May 23, 2005

Respecting Art and Others

This past weekend concluded the annual Festival of the Arts (FOTA). Our campus experienced a tornado of art exhibits—25 physical displays and 25 performances—presented to the University community in numerous locations, indoors and out. While most of those exhibits enjoyed a week of respectful attention, a handful were vandalized and destroyed.

FOTA is a unique event that transforms our campus and, for some, marks the true beginning of the U of C spring. Much of its uniqueness lies in the fact that art is installed all over campus, such that when walking from class to class, every turn seems to bring a new artists' display. FOTA, then, would not be FOTA if its artwork was confined to a few rooms.

Those who chose to disrespect their peers endangered the future of FOTA. If this type of behavior continues, what artist will want to dedicate the time and energy that is required of a FOTA project that could very easily be torn down while on display? FOTA projects, and the great effort put in by our peers, must be respected so that it continues, year after year.

Worse than just the unfortunate projects of a few student artists, these incidents highlight larger issues of disrespect of our academic environment, one that should be based on intellectual freedom. Just as the recent defamation of Chicago Friends of Israel flyers signifies a stifling of academic debate, so do these most recent incidents of vandalism threaten to smother the expression of ideas.