For immediate release

This week, the National Coalition Against Censorship sent a letter to the University of Central Oklahoma urging the University to adopt a statement affirming the value of free expression, as well as develop guidelines for the exhibition of student art, which would guarantee the viewpoint-neutral selection of artwork and establish a procedure for responding to challenges.

The letter comes in response to the removal of one student’s artwork from a student-curated exhibit. Concerned that the work might alienate potential sponsors, the Chair of the Art Department removed it from the exhibit without any prior discussion with the artist or exhibition curator. A work by another student was returned to the exhibit after a red tank top was pasted to it. As the letter states, "besides being educationally unsound," the removal of the work is, "quite likely, a violation of the First Amendment."

Svetlana Mintcheva, Arts Advocacy Project Coordinator at the National Coalition Against Censorship, said "Censoring one student’s work affects all students at UCO by sending the message that if the ideas you express are disagreeable to the administration or to a potential sponsor, these ideas will be suppressed. The National Coalition Against Censorship joins UCO students in their concern that other censorship incidents might well occur in the future and requests that the University puts in place a policy guaranteeing that this will not happen"

To view the letter, click here.

Update (posted May 8, 2003): There is a recent sign posted outside the photo lab at UCO saying: "NOTICE: All subject matter photographed in the UCO JOURNALISM PHOTO STUDIO MUST BE ‘G’ OR ‘FAMILY’ RATING. NO MALE OR FEMALE NUDITY IS ALLOWED (WHETHER FULL OR PARTIAL NUDITY) In addition, no objects or devices depicting nudity or having any sexual content can be photographed. Any students violating this department policy will lose Studio and Photo Lab privileges."

Further information:
Svetlana Mintcheva
Arts Advocacy Project Coordinator
National Coalition Against Censorship