One of my first initiatives as chair of the English Department was the dedication of a large bulletin board by the main office to the achievements of our faculty and students. Publications, posters, and media mentions adorn the board, yielding to any visitor ample evidence of how accomplished a department we are.
Unfortunately over the past few weeks we’ve had repeated episodes of vandalism that appear to be someone’s attempt to censor some of its contents.
Gina Welch is a much admired teacher of creative writing in the department. Every time we hang an image of the cover of her forthcoming book In the Land of Believers: An Outsider’s Extraordinary Journey into the Heart of the Evangelical Church, someone rips the page from the board. I can’t tell if the crosses on the cover or the contents or both are what is annoying someone enough to tear the paper from the bulletin board repeatedly (three times so far that I know of).
Julia McCrossin is an accomplished teacher in the department as well as a PhD student here. Her work was recently featured in the New Yorker and The Hatchet. We posted a copy of the Hatchet story, as well as the cover of The Fat Studies Reader, a book to which she contributed an essay. Someone ripped both from the board recently.
These petty acts of destruction bother me even more than the recent theft of our computer projector from our seminar room. It is annoying and costly to have to replace technology. But removing and destroying materials on our bulletin board gives evidence of darker, more hateful motives. A university that treasures the free exchange of ideas has no place for such crimes.
As chair of the English Department, I wish to express my strong support for Gina Welch and Julia McCrossin. The removal of their materials from our board in no way diminishes the pride we feel in having them as members of our department.