Denying the request of upset students and alumni, administrators at the University of Dayton have refused to remove controversial post-Election artwork, citing their commitment to free speech.
Two days after the Election, an unnamed artist hung a burnt American flag on a wall on campus, alongside a plaque that states, “We will move forward.”
Since the burnt flag went up, some have begun to hang responses alongside it. Others, including alumni, complained to administration, calling for the art installation to be removed altogether.
One student told the local ABC affiliate she had “never been this upset in my entire life,” while others said it was disrespectful and “almost embarrassing.”
Provost Paul Benson, who has said the art installation is a legitimate expression of free speech, was in meetings all day and could not be reached for comment.
In a statement released last night, University of Dayton administrators emphasized the importance of First Amendment rights: “Although we understand that some will disagree or be offended by an art installation involving the flag, courts have long held that, when the flag is used to convey an idea, such usage is protected by the exercise of free speech, a principle essential to American Democracy and civic life. One of our country’s most cherished freedoms is that right to free speech, which as special value in artistic contexts.”
The University has also tweeted its statement against social-media users who have opposed the burnt flag art installation.
— University of Dayton (@univofdayton) November 16, 2016
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.