“please restore free speech and expression at RPI”

Dear President Jackson,

I’m writing in protest of RPI’s decision to suspend the work of respected artist and Professor Wafaa Bilal. This decision shocked and saddened me, as it represents an inexcusable violation of our Constitutionally-guaranteed right to freedom of speech and expression—something which RPI as an institution of higher education should defend, not hinder.

It is particularly surprising and sad that, even after the FBI explained that Professor Bilal was “not a person of interest,” RPI administrators still bowed to the pressure of the College Republicans and Republican alumni. In doing so, you allowed demagoguery and intimidation to win the day instead of reason and our democratic institutions.

RPI should have embraced the decisions and good judgment of the art department, which is seeking to spark dialog about important issues. It should have stood its ground against the outrageous allegations and anti-democratic intimidation of the College Republicans, and insisted that an art exhibit in no way implies that RPI as an institution supports the opinions of all presenters.

Please restore the good name of RPI, and freedom of speech and inquiry, by re-opening Professor Bilal’s exhibition.


Lucia Sommer
Buffalo, NY


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