Dear President Jackson,
As a graduate student in the Arts department at RPI, I am angry, sad, and
shocked by all of this. I am horrified at such blatant censorship, in
principle alone, but my upset is heightened by the fact that all of my
encounters with Wafaa Bilal have shown him to be a kind, moving,
inspiring and humanitarian artist.
I do not know what could breach this divide now — between the arts
department and the college republicans, between the arts department and
the administration — but isn’t there a way that this conflict, as a
microcosm of larger ones, could be used as an opportunity for all parties
to together create a new possibility? Try out different ways of relating?
“Virtual Jihadi” has served brilliantly to provoke revealing dialogue —
is there a chance that we can do something with this? Instead of myself
remaining angry and righteous, and the administration protecting itself
from attack and the fear of controversy, couldn’t we experiment with some
kind of other alternatives?
Please consider what you can do. RPI is now in the spotlight. Whether
you are aware of it or not, people all over the world are paying
attention to you and how you respond to this. You have a powerful
opportunity to model something new.