Student

Art Student EXPELLED…You Won’t Believe The Reason

An art student retweeted a sexually graphic Japanese-style animation– called hentai– on their individual, pseudonymous Twitter account and was consequently investigated and expelled.

Ash Mikkelsen was an inbound student at Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) until another student complained about an image Mikkelsen retweeted (the image in question is not the very same one at the top of this short article). Mikkelsen didn’t tag the university or anybody from the university neighborhood in the tweet, and didn’t send it to anybody linked to the university– it was just a retweet.

A trainee who saw the retweet grumbled to KCAI administrators, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) reported, and the school opened an investigation, declaring Mikkelsen breached the Student Code of Conduct. Assistant Dean of Students Joe Timson sent out Mikkelsen a letter on June 15 wishing to discuss  “content on social media that has contributed to the development of a hostile environment and reflects potential Sexual Harassment.”

Mikkelsen met Timson that very same day to talk about the accusations. Simply 14 days later on, on June 29, Timson notified Mikkelsen they were being expelled. Mikkelsen, according to FIRE, was provided no significant opportunity to contest the accusations, however, was given five days to appeal. Mikkelsen looked for aid from FIRE’s legal defense fund in an effort to reverse the expulsion.

“This experience has left me feeling angry, but more importantly, disappointed,” Mikkelsen said in a statement posted by FIRE. “I’m fighting back to show that it’s not acceptable to punish students for what they say, do, or make — even if the administration doesn’t like what that protected activity encompasses.”

FIRE took note that KCAI expelled Mikkelsen for a non-Title IX hostile environment, unwanted sexual advances offense under its Student Code of Conduct, however, no definition of unwanted sexual advances exists within the code. Even more, the firm noted, Mikkelsen’s tweets do not satisfy the legal meaning of unwanted sexual advances, which states prejudiced conduct should be “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive, and that so undermines and detracts from the victims’ educational experience, that the victim-students are effectively denied equal access to an institution’s resources and opportunities.”

Retweeting hentai wouldn’t meet with that strict legal definition, FIRE insisted.

“Art history is full of censors, but today KCAI is the one holding the fig leaf,” FIRE Program Officer Sabrina Conza said in a statement. “Instead of protecting artistic expression — as it promises to do — the art institute pried into Ash’s personal life in order to find a reason to be offended and then concocted a scheme to expel them. People are offended by all sorts of artistic expression. But offense alone doesn’t justify censorship — especially by an art school.”

KCAI is a personal university, so it’s not bound by the exact same constitutional securities as a public university, however as FIRE kept in mind, the school is ethically and contractually needed to maintain its own policies.

“As a veteran and as an American, I’m protective of my rights — they are something my friends fought and died for,” said Mikkelsen, a Marine Corps veteran. “So for KCAI to so frivolously tread on them leaves me worried for the future of other artists like me.”

H/T The Daily Wire

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