Jewish student is now allowed to display Hillel-sponsored art

By Jessica Remitz
The Digital Collegian

Penn State President Graham Spanier said yesterday that Penn State student Josh Stulman could display his Portraits of Terror art exhibit as early as this semester.

“That exhibit is going to go up,” he said at the University Faculty Senate meeting. “The offer has been extended and may be displayed this spring or not until the fall.”

Stulman (senior-painting and anthropology) was not available for comment by press time last night regarding when the exhibit will go on display.

Stulman’s 10-piece exhibit, initially scheduled to begin Sunday, was canceled last Wednesday after he received an e-mail message from Charles Garoian, director and professor of the School of Visual Arts.

The exhibit depicted conflict in Palestinian territories and drew inspiration from images featured in newspapers and on television. Phone calls to the Muslim Student Association’s office were not returned by deadline.

Garoian said that after reviewing Penn State’s Policy AD42: Statement on Nondiscrimination and Harassment and Penn State’s Zero Tolerance Policy for Hate, he did not think the exhibit promoted “cultural diversity” or “opportunities for democratic dialogue,” and the exhibit was canceled.

Since Friday, Garoian has not responded to multiple phone calls and e-mail messages asking for further clarification.

However, Penn State spokesman Bill Mahon said in an e-mail message yesterday that the exhibit was canceled initially because Penn State Hillel sponsored it.

Garoian said in an e-mail message Friday that the School of Visual Art is reserved for work created by classes within the school, while having a sponsor moves the work into “the commercial realm.”

However, Stulman said Thursday that his exhibit Hodgepodge: Prints, Drawings, and Sketches, held this February, was sponsored by Hillel and displayed at the School of Visual Arts without conflict.

Tuvia Abramson, director of Penn State Hillel, said problems with the sponsorship were brought up only last week, after the exhibit was canceled.

Abramson added that Hillel donated about $75 to Stulman for food and advertising.

He also said Hillel plans to request a full apology from the university.

As a result of the interest generated by the cancellation of the exhibit, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Senate passed a resolution recommending that Stulman’s exhibit be reinstated in the fall.

The resolution, presented at the meeting last night, also called for Garoian and Vicky Triponey, vice president for Student Affairs, to provide Stulman with compensation for money lost in the advertisement and preparation of the opening.

Senate also recommended that the School of Visual Arts and university administration submit a public apology to Stulman on the grounds of a First Amendment rights violation.

“I expect some people to disagree [with the legislation], but the university seems to be moving in the direction I’d like to see,” USG Senate President Brock Coleman said.

USG executive branch has also sent a letter to the School of Visual Arts and other administrators defending Stulman’s right to display his work.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |