Response to Claims of Censorship

Dear Campus Community,

My decision leading to the cancellation of the NWC performance at the Carpenter Center this year came after much deliberation and feedback from faculty, students, and community members.

Last year I welcomed the same performance to the Carpenter Center. My thoughts then were that it would generate thought-provoking conversations about race relations. The university and ASI subsidized students so that many were able to attend for free. I personally visited with many of our student cultural organizations to prepare them to use the performance as a prompt for meaningful discussions. Faculty members and student services staff members supported special activities before and after the performance.

Following the performance I evaluated whether or not it achieved that goal. Involved faculty and staff members and students shared feedback that the performance did not lead to the desired conversations. They further expressed a desire to find another performance vehicle to generate deep and much needed discussions about race and ethnicity.

When approached again to support NWC as a centerpiece of campus conversations, I indicated that while the performance could certainly go on as planned, I would not replicate the financial campus support I’d made available last year and did not have faculty or staff interested in doing curriculum planning around the performance.

I did not intend my decision as a form of censorship. As an academic, my decision was based on my evaluation of the academic value of the performance for our students. The Carpenter Center could have hosted the show without additional involvement from the University, but chose not to.

A critical part of our university mission is to expand educational opportunities for people from all backgrounds in a climate that promotes robust discussions of controversial issues. Creating meaningful exchanges about race relations is more important than ever. I’m sure our shared goal is to foster those conversations on our campus. Let’s find innovative approaches to make this happen.