Letters to the Editors
I enjoyed the question about controversial student artwork in the February issue. Most of the responses were well reasoned, though I especially liked the ones that weren't. I find it enlightening to see how the student body and the administrators and the instructors have such different things to say about the same subject.
I found it objectionable that the two most virulent responses were anonymous. I think that these respondents should have taken their opinions public. They should have signed their work and stood by their words. It is easy to give grief to students and the administration while your name is unknown. It is harder and more lasting to stand up for your beliefs. Isn't that the issue in the first place? If artists must stand by their work if it is to be at all meaningful, then so should letter writers.
- Marcy Neth
Reader Services Librarian
John M. Flaxman Library
Thank you for your coverage of the events in 4D class & Extravaganza. The events raised two thoughts that I would like to share with you and your readers.
After WWII, there was a lot of research to try to understand how the Nazis were able to involve so many everyday Germans in active participation in atrocities. In one study, students were recruited to help in research projects. Once involved, they were assigned to operate equipment that shocked people whose pain tolerance was measured. In reality, the students assigned to operate the equipment were the true research subjects and those to be shocked were actors who did not experience pain.
What this study showed was that while many people would attempt to mitigate the pain inflicted by delay or by surreptitiously administering lesser shocks than directed, only 10 percent flatly refused to participate in inflicting pain. This 10 percent is close to the number of students in the 4D class who declined to participate.
I do not intend to identify good guys and bad guys in this situation. It is quite possible that I would have been fascinated enough by the presentation to participate. However, it is good to see that there is enough diversity of reaction for some of our fellow students to decline to participate in projects about which people can disagree.
The second thought was whether Kerry Weber came to SAIC with his unhappiness with capitalism. I doubt it. I am older than the typical SAIC student and have attended several institutions of higher education. I have never experienced anything resembling the political indoctrination that is part of the SAIC experience. The last time I was in undergraduate school, students were constantly challenging the ideas of faculty and administration. Here, it seems that an accepted set of political ideas is a constant part of the education and that students take it in without question. I knew I would experience some strange stuff at art school, but I never imaged a constant barrage of political artspeak. It is a distraction for me. I hope to make a living as an artist, not as a political radical.
- Stewart Walker