“Ricanstructions” is an art exhibit by Juan Sanchez that is currently being sponsored and hosted by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Included in the exhibit is a display called “Shackles of the AIDS Virus,” a 1996 work by the artist that features such devotional items as scapulars and images of the Virgin Mary arranged in a circle. Another display shows naked female torsos arranged in the shape of a cross; it is labeled “Crucifixion No. 2.” And there is a display of torn up images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Many students have expressed their objections to university officials, including the school’s dean, Anne-Marie Slaughter. She defends the exhibit by claiming that it was shown at a Catholic school, St. Bonaventure University. While she is sorry that the exhibit has “caused pain for some of our students and faculty,” she maintains that it is proper to allow works that “have educational value.”
Catholic League president William Donohue commented as follows:
“We were contacted today by three Princeton students—one Catholic, one Protestant and one Jewish. They wrote a sober yet impassioned letter registering their outrage. They deserve a serious response and it should come from Princeton President Shirley Tilghman.
“From what we have learned, the offensive display that Princeton is hosting was not part of the St. Bonaventure exhibit. ‘Ricanstructions’ is the generic name of the artist’s work; the displays under that name vary widely. More important is Dean Slaughter’s comment that ‘some’ students and faculty have experienced pain at the display and that it is nonetheless of ‘educational value.’ I would like to have her explain to me, in a public forum on the campus, whether she considers it problematic that only some students and faculty are offended. Are there some who take delight in it? If so, what is she prepared to do about it? Also, it would be instructive for her to educate me on the educational value of hate speech. I have put my request in writing to her.”