Letter to the president of RPI

Dear President Jackson,

I am writing this in the hopes that you will reconsider your decision to close down the art exhibit of Wafaa Bilal. When we are confronted by something we don’t understand and don’t agree with we feel challenged and as adults in a free society we have a choice to create dialog and find understanding, or to remain ignorant of understanding and hide from what challenges us. A person in your position has a duty to act in everyones best interest in situations of conflict. Your actions should be balanced, honest and lawful. Silencing an artist and gagging their message breeds only contempt on all sides. By denying access to a new or conflicting idea you’re taking away a persons right to decide how they feel, you effectively end dialog.
Art can be a passive and nonviolent way to impart personal views and create a radical exchange of ideas. It’s true that it can be brutally offensive to our personal morals, but we are free to ask ourselves what is the exact offense and often it isn’t the art itself, but our personal interpretation of the message the art conveys.
Regardless of the content people are free to express their views and display their art and you are obligated to defend that freedom.
Please take my words to heart and allow Wafaa Bilal to share his art with us once more.

Cloe Ashton


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