“There are competing values at issue here: Carnegie Mellon aims to be a place where ideas can be expressed and debated openly, but also where people of all backgrounds, faiths, and beliefs feel welcomed and supported. Unavoidably, the expression of some views will offend some people; that is the price of this freedom. However, if in the expression of these views, people in our community come to feel that the campus is intolerant, then the other of our cherished values is challenged. In such a situation, the institution may find it necessary to reassure those offended of its commitment to tolerance and inclusion. In doing so, I do not believe that the institution is compromising freedom of expression. Similarly, it is reasonable to expect individuals to consider the impact on others in expressing their views and how they choose to express them. This is responsibility, not censorship, and something that our students, especially, should learn while they are members of our community.”
Following the incident, Cohon released apology for the actions of the student, which outraged the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Following today’s developments of charges being filed, Pittsburgh Diocese Bishop David Zubik issued this statement:
“The Catholic Church of Pittsburgh acknowledges the fact that Carnegie Mellon University has taken the time to treat this unfortunate incident in a serious manner.
The reaction on campus is mixed.
“I feel that oppression of ideas is far criminal than nudity, and to be offended by nudity and to make this a crime– that’s the crime,” says student Marissa Hughes.
“I don’t think it was art. I think it was someone who had an idea and wanted to get attention,” student Tim Reid says.
“Once again, and as I have said over these last few weeks, this is an opportunity for all of us to be reminded that freedom of speech and freedom of expression do not constitute a freedom to dismiss or disrespect the beauty of anyone’s race, the sacredness of anyone’s religious belief or the uniqueness of anyone’s nationality.
“Dialogue, disagreements and even demonstrations must be conducted in an atmosphere of decency, self-respect, and esteem for the community in which we live and those who live in it. I hope that all of us – including the students involved – can learn and grow from this very important lesson in living.”
The National Catholic League called for an immediate suspension of the student, noting that CMU recently suspended fraternity members for taking sexual pictures inside the frat and emailing them to other members.
CMU Parade Controversy Over Naked Woman, Dressed As Pope (4/29/13)
CMU President Apologizes After Student Dresses As Naked Pope (5/1/13)
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