When they show their work publicly, art students have the experience of speaking to more than a group of art school insiders. It is here that they encounter people deeply affected by aesthetic provocations or hurt and angered by expressions they may well have misinterpreted.

Yet groups or individuals may attack work as offensive–and their offense may be fully justified. But the response to controversial art displayed on a college campus should be the same as the response to controversial ideas voiced in the classroom: discussion and debate, not censorship.

In 1990 the participants Wolf Trap Conference on Academic Freedom and Artistic Expression adopted a statement of four principles in support of artistic freedom on campus. The statement, intended to strengthen academic commitment to artistic freedom, was endorsed by the American Association of University Professors and has been endorsed or adapted by many individual colleges. It remains relevant today.

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