Even the far-left liberal blog Wonkette says you don't get a free pass over art that bothers you

The University of Iowa has urged faculty members to let students miss or re-take tests if they were upset over some campus art that was SUPER RACIST (because it addressed racism). Apparently some students were so broken up over either the artwork itself — or the controversy surrounding its removal by the university — that they simply couldn’t get their schoolwork done. Letting students ignore their assignments because they had really strong feelings about a work of art strikes us as maybe a bad idea?

So, back in December, the University of Iowa had a bit of a freakout over an art installation depicting a 7-foot tall KKK figure made out of “robes” that, on closer inspection, were simulated newspapers featuring headlines about racial violence. After the statue appeared one morning on the university’s “Pentacrest” common area, the University initially issued statements calling it “deeply offensive” and assuring the community that the school had “no tolerance for racism.” The guy who made it, an assistant professor named Serhat Tanyolacar, came forward to say, no, it was an anti-racism piece, intended to condemn the Klan, not praise it. Even so, the piece was removed after about 4 hours, sparking an ongoing campus argument about race, censorship, art, and free speech. University officials say they removed the piece not because of its content, but because Tanyolacar hadn’t gotten the required permissions for putting up an art installation.

And in all the fuss, some students got so caught up in either condemning racism or censorship (not to mention protesting the other protestors) that they didn’t finish papers or study for tests:

“A very small number of students requested assistance with academic courses because the display impacted their ability to fully engage in classes at that time,” said Jeneane Beck, senior director of UI News Media Relations.

Chemistry professor Christopher Cheatum wasn’t inclined to grant a do-over requested by one of his students, and emailed administrators, saying that “being involved in a protest, however important or meaningful that protest may be, is not sanctioned by either the university or the college as a reason for missing an exam.”

Cheatum said one student missed a makeup exam at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 5 — about eight hours after the statue in question was dismantled and more than an hour after meeting with administrators on the topic. That student emailed a professor just before midnight Dec. 5 to report he had missed classes and “was not in my right mind to be able to think about chemistry concepts tonight.”

“This student, by his own admission, had 1.5 hours after the event(s) in question were over to gather himself and prepare for the exam,” Cheatum wrote in his email to administrators. “If we were to allow an exception in this case, we would then set a precedent that being involved in some protest or political action is a legitimate basis for missing an exam, which we might then have to accommodate for other protest situations, to which we would not be so sympathetic.”

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences guidelines on make-up work allows students to be granted extensions or to retake tests due to “illness, religious obligations, authorized university activities, or unavoidable circumstances. Such circumstances could include jury duty, family tragedy, or a car accident, according to the policy.” Faculty members have the discretion to grant the request or not. Ultimately, Cheatum decided to let the student re-take the test, after the Associate Dean for the college advised that faculty allow student requests for accommodations.

“I certainly wouldn’t want students to get the idea that this a mechanism to take a makeup exam — to protest something and get caught up in it,” he said. “But this was an unusual event on campus and, as faculty, we should be compassionate when we can be in response to things that come up.”

So yay for Doc Cheatum (who really sounds like a character in a Western) both for being nice and recognizing that This Sort Of Thing Could Get Out Of Hand. Yes, it was upsetting art (art often is!), and yes, the protests over censorship were also very intense, but come on, kids, you’re college students, too, and neither an upsetting art installation nor a protest about its removal is a car crash or a death in the family. For heavens sake, we couldn’t sleep after the finale of M*A*S*H in 1983, but we certainly didn’t try to duck out of any exams, even though it wasn’t a chicken, it WAS A BABY!

As for the Art Itself, we generally take a pro-free-speech view. We don’t think students should get to decide that a university should remove art that makes them uncomfortable — no, not even if it’s a realistic sculpture of a homely guy sleepwalking in his underpants, and that makes Wellesley students feel sad.

Art is sometimes upsetting! And sometimes it is oil pastels of children frolicking at the seashore! In this case, we’d say “KKK is bad” is not actually a sentiment that should ruin your whole day!

And no, you can’t get an extension on your essay because you were overcome by the banality of it all. Or because the name “Pentacrest” makes you worry that the U of Iowa is satanic.

[Cedar Rapids Gazette / Photo by Mitchell Schmidt/The Gazette]

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  • BaldarTFlagass

    Oh, sure, like a chemistry geek gives a flying fuck about an art installation. More like three too many tequila shots.

  • BaldarTFlagass

    Oh, sure, like a chemistry geek gives a flying fuck about an art installation. More like three too many tequila shots.

  • thepoliticalcat

    Now they’ll have to make up illnesses, like Charley Horse of Writing Finger.

    • BaldarTFlagass

      A monarch butterfly broke wind in the Brazilian rain forest today. I’m calling in sick.

  • BaldarTFlagass

    “This student, by his own admission, had 1.5 hours after the event(s) in question were over to gather himself and prepare for the exam”
    So, what was he doing in the 24 hours before the event, besides not preparing for the exam?

    • RevZafod

      Precious snowflake abuse!

    • PubOption

      If he didn’t do any preparation until 24 hours before the exam, he would have to be either brilliant or stupid. I know which way I would bet.

      • BaldarTFlagass

        I know which way I was when it came to writing papers and taking exams, which was closer to stupid than brilliant, but fortunately muddled through somehow.

  • JohnBull
  • BaldarTFlagass

    Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ” upset me so much I switched from a medical degree with specialty in urology to geology.

    • Jon Sussex

      Any suggestions regarding kidney stones?

      • BaldarTFlagass

        Try to avoid eating any rocks with high calcium content in their mineral makeup, such as limestone, calcite, aragonite, chalk, and marble. These do not digest well and the calcium bio-concentrates in your kidneys.

        • david green

          This is why I come to Wonkette – not for the snark, but for the valuable knowledge.

  • PubOption

    Cheatum suspects students of cheating.

  • Alan Christensen

    This artwork doesn’t even strike me as offensive. Provocative, maybe. Which makes it even less of a justification for the poor babies missing their exams.

  • HogeyeGrex

    Well, college is all about preparing one for life. It’s not like every time you get your fee-fees hurt the world stops turning and you get a do over. It’s not like we live in a society where a “strong belief” in something entirely fictitious or verifiably false allows people to negate settled law, or anything. That would set up one hell of a moral hazard.

    Oh. Wait.


    • OctopiRage

      Wait, is this the “wussification” all those war dodging war morngers blather about on the radio?

  • Vienna Woods

    Isn’t that Prof the Car Talk’s lawyer?

    • willi0000000

      what do Dewey and Howe have to say about this controversy?

      [not that Dewey]

  • Shibusa

    My history teacher has one of those cheesy ‘Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light’ cottage paintings in his office. Do I have to take the midterm?

    • BaldarTFlagass

      Unfortunately yes, but you should go full “Bluto-with-the-folk-singer’s-guitar” on that “painting” next time you go in for consultation.

    • BaldarTFlagass

      Unfortunately yes, but you should go full “Bluto-with-the-folk-singer’s-guitar” on that “painting” next time you go in for consultation.

    • Beaumarchais?

      Yes. If it were a McNaughton, however, you could get a waiver for PTSD.

    • Bitter Scribe

      What did he do his thesis on…”Kitsch in American Life”?

  • cousin itt

    The Klan lynched my homework.

    • ArgieBargie

      KKK took by homework away.

  • Ilgattomorte

    I’m just proud that those poor students were able to eventually put that horrible experience behind them and return to their studies. I’m sure that next week’s planned installation of “Transgendered Black Jesus Eating an Asian Baby” will be a strong social statement and not an attempt to skip classes.

  • BaldarTFlagass

    Isn’t this the same University with the awful student newspaper? Well I don’t know, but at least they booed Karl Rove.

  • elviouslyqueer

    >allows students to be granted extensions or to retake tests due to
    “illness, religious obligations, authorized university activities, or
    unavoidable circumstances< Wow. I wasn't aware that "clutching pearls too tightly and having the vapors" constituted an "unavoidable circumstance." Bless their hearts.

    • OctopiRage

      Works for Congress.

    • Blank Ron

      Is there a Young Republicans chapter on campus?

      • Dudleydidwrong

        The Best Party on Campus!

        The University of Iowa College Republicans exist to promote conservative and Republican ideals, foster strong student leadership, develop life-long friendships, and most importantly: TO HAVE FUN!!! All Republicans or politically interested students are welcome to attend our meetings, join the club, participate in our many social events, help further the agenda and goals of the party and club, and elect candidates that will promote our positive message. Check out our calendar to see what we have coming up!

        Motto: Iowa City is liberal, but you don’t have to be.

        “Hawkeye gop” says it all.

  • Monsieur_Grumpe

    The art ate my homework excuse never worked for me.

  • deanbooth

    Stop Global Whining!

  • I don’t know who the actual wimps are: the students who claimed they missed exams because they were distraught over a freakin’ statue, or the faculty members who bought that garbage.

    • willi0000000


  • Whollyholeyholy

    Reminds me of when we had to stop reading Jonathan Swift in my rural Texas high school because of all the baby eating. True story.

    • Mehmeisterjr

      Because they was fer or agin’?

      • BaldarTFlagass

        In Texas, you can eat all the babies you want. It’s the fetuses they don’t want you noshing on.

  • deanbooth

    Kids these days! When I was an undergrad, we had a visiting artist show his movies — one was of a nude lady dancing with a live swan; at some point she cut off its head and fucked herself with the neck! Freeeedum is sometimes, um, messy.

    • Mehmeisterjr

      Wait, wait, I’ve heard of this story. “The Ugly Fuckling.”

      • Dudleydidwrong

        Win! Now I’ve got to clean the coffee out of the keyboard!

    • BaldarTFlagass

      It would have been cooler if she’d done it live.

    • JustPixelz

      Let’s be fair. You probably just had to sit in some classroom to see that. But nowadays kids have to type over 20 characters to see nudity.

    • Toomush_Infer

      Well….Zeus couldn’t have liked that….and think about poor Yeats trying to write it down in Ireland….not good at all….

    • Jerry

      I will defend to the death your right to say those things, but, pray tell, how would you recommend I get that image out of my head?

      • deanbooth

        i’ve tried. It’s been in my head for forty years.

    • Blank Ron

      Pics or GTFO!

  • OctopiRage

    Oddly, U of Iowa snowflakes ok with actual KKK.

  • JoeChristmas

    I call bullshit. The millennials don’t read newspapers!

  • MaxUdargo

    Cheatum? Pentacrest? What about Serhat Tanyolacar? Now that’s a fucking name!

    • Guest

      It’s gotta be an anagram.

  • ThePuckStopsHere

    If I’d have gotten a pass because I wasn’t in my right mind to study _____ (fill in the blank) I’d have a goddamn doctorate by now, just like Dr. Zoom.

    • Dr.Zoidberg


  • JustPixelz

    “[I] was not in my right mind to be able to think about chemistry concepts tonight.”

    Cool! Usually it’s chemistry that causes someone to not be in their right mind. This time their mind caused them to not be in chemistry.

  • JoeChristmas

    This post has disturbed me so that I am not in my right mind to be able to comment in a snarky, hilarious manner.

    • Reddishrabbit

      I’m also deeply affected, I think I have to tell my boss I need to go home and may miss tomorrow too.

    • Blank Ron

      That’s okay, you can make snarky comments tomorrow.

    • jmk

      That would probably be more of a problem if comments were allowed.

  • Zippy

    Too bad Doc Cheatum’s first name isn’t Dewey

    (no, not that Dewey)

    • say wha

      And Howe!

  • Zippy

    Kids these days…

    In my day, we had to call in bomb threats to postpone a test we weren’t ready to take

    • Blank Ron

      Threats? We had to detonate actual bombs!

      • Zippy

        I did work study in our library- we got them phoned in every mid term. We just started ignoring them

        • Blank Ron

          Hmm… just out of curiousity, was Bill O’Reilly working there at the time?

  • Toomush_Infer

    Mrs. Toomush got her MFA from the University of Iowa – do you know how little there is to be upset about in Iowa City? This is huge!!…..

  • docterry6973

    I vaguely recall my Alma Mater suspending classes for a day of peaceful discussion of the Kent State killings. Of course, that was less disturbing than this papier-mache project.

  • say wha

    “People might look at you a bit funny, but it’s okay. Artists are allowed to be a bit different.” Bob Ross (RIP)

  • Bitter Scribe

    If someone really wanted to be offensive, they would spray-paint that thing white.

    • Blank Ron

      Youngsters there days. Gettin’ upset over practic’ly anything. Now in *my* day…

  • Toomush_Infer

    I want to know if Congress gets to take the next two days off after listening to Yahoo….

    • swattz101

      No, they are already taking it off due to the expected 4″ of snow.

  • JohnBull

    In my day we’d just hit the bars. Too bad this campus voted AGAINST allowing themselves (under 21 years old anyway) access to bars after 10 pm. Twice.

    • chazmanr

      Blame Reagan for that. The drinking in age in Iowa was 19 until Reagan held federal highway funds hostage unless states raised the age to 21. So while you have to register for the draft at 18 and theoretically could be sent off to war if the draft were instituted, you can’t have drink after you go kill some brown people that we have decided need to die.

      (I was attending a different college in Iowa when they raised the age)

      • mrpuma2u

        As an Iowa grad, I must say that I am shocked that Iowa students actually paid any attention at all to art, let alone discuss it.

    • OGIS

      Weed is much less poisonous.

  • PatDolan53

    Not one comment from one of the students of color–and that’s who they were, by and large–who found the statue offensive and distressing. Indeed, the Gazette article didn’t interview any of the students directly.

    Iowa City projects an image of a liberal bubble, but the lived experience of African Americans, Latinos and others in this town is very different. Lots of students got caught up in the protest and the ensuing discussions (which were intense) and it doesn’t surprise me that, being young, they didn’t protect themselves. The professor had discretion. He used it appropriately, in my opinion.

    About a week later, one of these students prompted an impassioned discussion in my writing class about the incident, and later he wrote a superb advocacy paper about it. This is one of the students you’re making fun of here.

    Y’all are opining about stuff you don’t know about. It would be useful if you would imagine yourself in the shoes of someone regularly harassed by the police department as the statue gradually came into focus. It’s easy to say “n@$$%r” is just a word, when people aren’t calling you that every day.

    • So educate me. No snark or confrontation intended. Please explain how the students of color who found the statue offensive and distressing came about to have that reaction. Did they read the print on the artwork, or did they see it from a distance and make up their minds to be offended without further investigation? Here is an opportunity for those very same students to offer a viewpoint to this forum you believe the contributors are missing. The fact that it sparked intense discussion is, in my opinion, wonderful. I understand where the decision came from. I would love to have a chance to read the students paper you reference. Actually, upon further introspection, I think the university seized an opportunity for an important conversation for the exact reason you state in your last paragraph. Hope you can keep this a teachable ongoing conversation on your campus.

  • D G

    Suck it up kiddos, the world’s a lot harsher than campus. Also- Boo hoo, grow up.

  • Paperless Tiger

    Hey, that’s a nice piece! It sort of transcends the well-worn ‘bad klan’ meme, because it’s made of headlines, and the coat-rack stand is pure genius.

  • Phil B.

    Boy these little snowflakes are in for a rude awakening when they go out into the real world.

  • DahBoner

    If I lived in Iowa, i would never go to class because…

  • Joseph

    University of Iowa. Indeed. You expected some rational thought and cognitive skills? Very funny!

    • OGIS

      Indeed. I bet they were even stereotyping and generalizing!

    • carl

      Iowa stands for Idiots out wandering around…..

    • shocktreatment

      Wrestlers, that is what most expect out of U of Iowa

  • Bobo Yeats Druid-Jones VIII

    And then the artist-professor revealed to faculty that this was all an elaborate behavioral science experiment to test biases in teacher-student bargaining situations…

  • DC Madman

    Isn’t that special, conservative fledglings learning poutrage.

  • arrrghle

    Can I get an extension on my essay because people arguing about a piece of art made me need to buy a really sweet bag of weed and spend the week I was supposed to be writing it getting high and eating pizza instead?

    I think that might actually be one I never tried. Maybe those kids ARE getting an education in Iowa.

    • William_C_Diaz

      If you cant smoke weed, eat pizza, have casual sex and still pull a ‘B’ in ‘hard science’ classes, you dont belong at university, lol.

      Have a great day!

  • Celtic_Gnome

    The display impacted their ability to fully engage in classes? They cancelled classes at Kent State, but they fucking shot people!

  • OGIS

    As I recall, exactly the same thing happened at Cal State Northridge back in 1970 or 1971, and for the same kind of stupid reasons. And, yes, the poor dears got to take makeups, or even got full credit for the course after they missed the final exam.

  • Tim Saylors

    Nope, “F” for the course. We cannot permit the pussification of America to proceed unhindered.

  • gullywompr

    You know who else was a shitty artist, made bold statements about racism, and upset a lot of people?

    • Kathleenicorn

      that dbag from

      oh nm they changed it now

  • Cryndalae

    “we couldn’t sleep after the finale of M*A*S*H in 1983”

    I was at Drake University running lights for the tech rehearsal of ‘The Three Cuckold’s’ (no lie) that night. The actors kept missing cue after cue because they were in the greenroom watching the finale. Heads rolled!

    We almost lost our M*A*S*H finale viewing party that Doc was hosting for the cast… he’d recorded it on his BetaMax for us. :)

  • Kathleenicorn

    “was not in my right mind to be able to think about chemistry concepts tonight.”
    because of a stupid protest over some art? and he had time to gather himself after? i hope this guy isn’t going into a career in chemistry that is time sensitive to something important cause he’s really not cut out for it. for anything really.
    he may have done ok on his exam since being given a second chance (who knows?) but for working well under pressure? FAIL

    • Haribo Lector

      You weren’t there, man.

  • NorthStarSpanx

    No wonder conservative legislatures are revising history, for the children.

    • Sulla Felix


  • Sulla Felix

    God, what a bunch of pantywaists. Let’s hope America doesn’t have to fight a major war anytime soon, these pansies will surrender before it even starts.

  • I dunno. The leniency matches what they will experience in the “real world.” Just today I called my boss to say I couldn’t come in to work because I was so upset about what Giuliana Rancic said about Zendaya’s dreadlocks on Fashion Police.

  • AJ

    These students are probably friends with the ones at Berkeley that were terribly frightened and panicky over the sound of military aircraft. Time to teach these kids a nice real-world applicable lesson called “you missed it, tough s**t.” The other lesson in this is “Actions have consequences.”

  • Guest

    Rather than discuss it, debate it, maybe have a forum where ideas and opinions are exchanged… The children in college couldn’t handle being upset, so the piece was taken down. Yeah, some college educated folks out there could point out my poor grammar and sentence structure, but at least i can handle art. -College Dropout

    • Ryan Denniston

      I find that really disturbing. Now I can’t go to school until Monday.

      THANK YOU!!!

  • Proteios

    colleges aren’t really preparing kids to think. the free exchange of ideas is really nothing of the sort. Look at all the commencement speakers people protest. This is representative of the mindset now held common at universities: if I don’t like what you might say, you wont be allowed to say it. In effect, do NOT challenge my (usually leftist) preconceived notions. The left as created a bunch of anti-intellectual whiners.

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