Fwd: Message from President Cohon

May 15, 2013


———- Forwarded message ———-
From: "Carnegie Mellon University" <tseidel@andrew.cmu.edu>
Date: May 10, 2013 1:22 PM
Subject: Message from President Cohon
To: "simonstudio.com@gmail.com" <simonstudio.com@gmail.com>

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To the Carnegie Mellon Community:

Last week, I wrote to you about the university's process for dealing with the incidents of student nudity during the College of Fine Arts' Anti-Gravity Downhill Derby on Carnival Weekend. I promised to write to you once the internal process had been completed. In this message I describe how the matter has been resolved and the rationale for the outcome.

Let me begin by quoting the university's freedom of expression policy which can be found in its entirety at http://www.cmu.edu/policies/documents/FreeSpeech.html:

"Carnegie Mellon University values the freedoms of speech, thought, expression and assembly—in themselves and as part of our core educational and intellectual mission. The university must be a place where all ideas may be expressed freely and where no alternative is withheld from consideration. The only limits on these freedoms are those dictated by law and those necessary to protect the rights of other members of the university community and to ensure the normal functioning of the university."

Our policy makes it clear that Carnegie Mellon is committed to the rights of its students to express controversial views, while recognizing some key restrictions on that expression—including those dictated by law. This policy was revised six years ago in a widely consultative process with input from all parts of campus including faculty, students, staff, the administrative leadership and the Board of Trustees.

We relied on this policy to frame our decision making in this matter. In this situation, the issue is public nudity by two students, one woman and one man, at an open event which members of the public historically have attended, without warning to or protection of anyone who might unwittingly be witness to that exposure. This is a violation of Pennsylvania law.

Carnegie Mellon's Campus Police, who are commissioned by the state to enforce the law, have filed misdemeanor charges for indecent exposure against the two students. Final disposition of these charges will occur through the Allegheny County justice system, not through university channels. There will be no separate disciplinary action pursued through the university's internal process.

The students took part in a campus art event and, in the case of the student who portrayed herself as the Pope, made an artistic statement which proved to be controversial. While I recognize that many found the students' activities deeply offensive, the university upholds their right to create works of art and express their ideas. But, public nudity is a violation of the law and subject to appropriate action.

I understand that this resolution may not be supported by those who believe that there can be no limits on the freedom of artistic expression. Others who were particularly offended by the incident may be distressed that more severe action is not being taken.

There are competing values at issue here: Carnegie Mellon aims to be a place where ideas can be expressed and debated openly, but also where people of all backgrounds, faiths, and beliefs feel welcomed and supported. Unavoidably, the expression of some views will offend some people; that is the price of this freedom. However, if in the expression of these views, people in our community come to feel that the campus is intolerant, then the other of our cherished values is challenged. In such a situation, the institution may find it necessary to reassure those offended of its commitment to tolerance and inclusion. In doing so, I do not believe that the institution is compromising freedom of expression. Similarly, it is reasonable to expect individuals to consider the impact on others in expressing their views and how they choose to express them. This is responsibility, not censorship, and something that our students, especially, should learn while they are members of our community.

It is our practice in controversial situations such as this one to provide opportunities for discussion, where all sides have a chance to express their views. This has already begun on the campus. Members of our community are asking themselves the difficult questions about what happened here, and embracing their responsibility to create a context in which events like these can continue to be held in a manner which is consistent with the full range of our values. These values include, certainly, freedom of expression, but also the cultivation of an inclusive, mutually respectful environment, and respect for the law. Being aware of and acting on those values is my responsibility as your President, and, in this circumstance, the School of Art, the College of Fine Arts, and the Office of Student Affairs.

Our students, and the faculty who advise them, must have a clear understanding of the complexity of these issues. Our investigation of this incident revealed that our freedom of expression policy is not as well understood today as it was when it was adopted six years ago—especially by students, faculty, and staff who have come to the university since then. We will do a better job of making all members of our community aware of their rights to free speech and their responsibilities to the community.

I hope that, in that spirit, this incident will inspire thoughtful discussions at Carnegie Mellon and beyond, and affirm our beliefs in the freedom and the responsibility that are essential to the life of the university.

Jared L. Cohon
Carnegie Mellon University


Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
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Egypt’s Naked Blogger Is a Bomb Aimed at the Patriarchs in Our Minds

November 18, 2011
( Aliaa Mahdy h/t UKGuardian and Libra Bunda) Put on trial the artists’ models who posed nude for art schools until the early 70s, hide the art books and destroy the nude statues of antiquity, then undress and stand before a mirror and burn your bodies that you despise to forever rid yourselves of your sexual hangups before you direct your humiliation and chauvinism and dare to try to deny me my freedom of expression”.

If they only knew at the Guardian what kind of reverse situation we have in the West. Men are denied their freedom to express themselves in the name of feminism… but BRAVO to those who understand proportion and moderation

It was in Egypt, after all, that the ruling military junta stripped women of both headscarves (detained female activists were made to strip) and hymens when it subjected them to “virginity tests” last March, by which a soldier inserted two fingers into their vaginal opening. What are the military’s “virginity tests“, but a cheap tactic to humiliate and silence? When sexual assault parades as a test of the “honour” of virginity, then posing in your parents’ home in nothing but stockings, red shoes and a red hair clip is an attack towards all patriarchs out there.

I’m not drawing a pure direct parallel. Obviously the situation in the West is reactionary; intending to protect women,.. (though at times is downright racist and a means to further power when there are few male heirs in a culture because of low birth rate in the West).

Fury Over Young Activist Publishing Nude Self-portrait

November 16, 2011
(Libra Bunda) AL-MASRY AL-YOUM: In an unprecedented move, a young Egyptian female on Sunday dared to publish a nude self-portrait, along with other nude photos, on her blog as an expression of personal freedom. Aliaa Magda Elmahdy said on Twitter that she posted the photo under her real name. She added that she took the photo by herself in her parents’ home. Her blog, which has only one entry so far, has received nearly 30,000 hits. Under the title “fan a’ry” (nude art), Elmahdy posted eight pictures, two of herself and one showing a nude man holding a guitar, in addition to other photos. In one photo, yellow rectangles cover parts of her body. “The yellow rectangles on my eyes, mouth and sex organ resemble the censoring of our knowledge, expression and sexuality,” Elmahdy said. » | EE staff | Sunday, November 13, 2011 – THE WASHINGTON POST: Egyptian activist’s nude self-portrait causes online fury » | Maura Judkis | Monday, November 14, 2011 – NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Muslim artist defies Islamic prudes by baring all on the web: Strips despite her country’s conservative culture » | Corky Siemaszko | Tuesday, November 15, 2011 – 1 Lien en relation avec ce sujet »

ICANN has .xxx domain names? Yes!

March 20, 2011

The controversial step to approve .xxx domain names has today been taken by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, paving the way for a whole slew of new addresses suffixed by the famous triplicate x. Funnily enough, before the decision was made today, opposition to it was proffered by both conservative groups opposed to pornography and adult entertainment companies fearing they’d be more easily compartmentalized and potentially blocked by overzealous governments. Moreover, every popular adult website at present will pretty much be forced to buy its .xxx version, which, for an industry famous for its frugality, will be an understandably tough pill to swallow. We are surprised not to see the people of Amsterdam consulted, however — their city’s emblem features three Xs too, shouldn’t they have a say in this?
A further meeting is scheduled by ICANN for June 20th to discuss opening up all possible domain name suffixes to registration, pending the validation of a set of guidelines for approval. That’s looking quite likely to be passed too, as the AFP sagely notes that there’s a celebratory party scheduled for two days after the event. URLs are about to get a lot more varied, it seems; they’re certainly going to feature a lot more of the (English) alphabet’s 24th letter, whatever the case.


Protest Iran

November 16, 2010

Femen went topless at an event at the Iranian embassy to protest the sentence of death by stoning that Iran meted out to Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani. Few things attract attention like a group of topless women. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was tortured for two days before she agreed to confess on TV, Her lawyer said. Feminists should be at the barricades over this issue….but they are not, the Femen stepped in. via avideditor.wordpress.com