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April 5 2016

UVA Professor Invokes Title IX to Get Rid of a Campus...Mural

Charlotte Allen

You don't have to be an actual human professor to get into sexual-harassment hot water for partying with your female students.

You can be a purely imaginary professor depicted in a campus mural.

Yes it's true: There's an ongoing campaign at the University of Virginia to get rid of a series of  wall paintings completed in 2012 by artist Lincoln Perry that depict larger-than-life male and female students and their doctoral-gowned professors carousing, tippling wine, and, in various states of dress and undress, having a debauched good time that is supposed to represent the distractions of campus life. In one of the mural panels in UVA's Old Cabell Hall a possibly inebriated young blonde embraces one of the profs, who doesn't seem to mind. The exuberant figures reveling against painted backdrops of classical marble temples and colonnades, look like homage to Tiepolo, an obvious influence on Perry's work.

But at UVA, it's Tiepolo Schmiepolo to an activist professor who wants to get rid of the murals.

"I think it should go," said music professor Bonnie Gordon, who works in Old Cabell Hall and sees the mural every day. "It condones a certain kind of party culture in which women are depicted in ways that look problematic to me."

She says the most controversial panel depicts a professor and a student who "obviously have been doing something that would be a Title IX violation."...

Gordon says she's troubled when she sees prospective first-year students come through Old Cabell Hall with their parents.

"This is what they walk past," she said. "This is not the image that I want my son or daughter to associate with college."

Title IX, a federal law forbidding sex-discrimination by educational institutions receiving federal funding, is certainly being stretched to the limits to cover all kinds of alleged sexual harassment these days. But this is probably the first time it's been invoked in reference to a work of art.

Gordon is not the only objector to Perry's handiwork. In 2014, after a now-thoroughly discredited story in Rolling Stone narrated a lurid tale of a gang rape in a UVA fraternity house, the university formed a committee to decide what to do about the murals.

A year-and-a-half later, Gordon wonders why nothing has been done.

"Could we ask the artist if he'd be interested in redoing this panel," she asked. "Could we move the panels? Could we have a contest and put student art in this section?"

Or maybe the Obama administration's Education Department, ever-vigilant in extending the reach of Title IX, could get interested in what that professor and student are doing in that panel.

 

 

 

 

Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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