At first glance of the ‘Officer damages Westphal poster’ article on The Triangle’s front page, I was appalled by the imagery depicted in the Polish cartoon. From my interpretation of the poster, it appears to me that an adult, perhaps a teacher, is educating younger children in a jubilant manner that African Americans should be hung. I am sure others besides me have had a similar interpretation of the poster and have had a similar reaction to it. Should someone of African descent view this poster, I would be surprised if they weren’t extremely offended by what this poster seems to suggest. Having said that, I completely understand the actions that the three African American Public Safety officials took when they decided to remove the poster to prevent the general public from seeing it.
After viewing the English translation of the Polish caption underneath the poster, I understand that the poster is not as offensive as it appears to be, and that it merely attempts to poke fun at American civil rights, which was relevant when the poster was made about 50 years ago. The mistake made with hanging this poster in an exhibition was not adding the English translation of the Polish caption. Even though the poster resided in a Polish collection of works, how many people in Drexel’s community are able to read Polish? The majority of the people who passed this poster were probably offended by what it seemed to suggest looking at the picture only, unable to read the dialogue that explains what the poster is truly trying to say. Had someone taken a few minutes to add an English caption beneath the poster, this whole incident could have probably been avoided, and the poster would not have been damaged.
Sophomore, Biological Sciences
Upon first viewing the ‘Officer damages Westphal poster’ article prior to reading it, I was personally offended by the poster and what I saw on the poster — a black man being hung by a noose. After reading the article though, I came to understand the poster and what it stood for. Therefore, I was no longer offended. I do however, understand the viewpoint and actions of the Public Safety officer who tore down the poster. From his standpoint, the poster was offensive and he felt like it should be removed. Although I don’t condone his actions (the situation could have been handled differently), in his defense, there were no captions or additional historical background to the poster as to explain the significance, so there was no way for the officer to know what it meant. Although it was explained that no captions were placed because the posters were displayed as part of a private tour in which each would be discussed, I feel as if that is no excuse. In a building like Nesbitt, although not available for just any student to waltz into, it is still a public place, and like all public places, you have to assume that people are going to view it and act accordingly. This being said, although the officer’s actions were inappropriate, I don’t believe that his actions were enough basis for his dismissal.
In response to Sandy Stewart’s comment that “the idea of censorship in an institution of higher learning is not an acceptable action” in regards to not putting the poster or any other offensive poster up, I completely agree. It is necessary and important to know and understand your history as to not repeat it. In that sense, the poster should be viewed from a historical and educational viewpoint, and not merely as offensive.
Freshman, Interior Design
There is the saying that time heals all wounds, but in the case of the Westphal poster removal, it was too soon. In the past hundred years, African Americans have withstood many struggles. And to this day, some of those struggles remain. The officer who removed the Polish poster did not think logically at the time; his emotions took control of him. I do not condone his actions, but I also do not agree with how the poster was presented. When I opened The Triangle, without reading a word, the picture quickly grabbed my attention. The poster offended me and offered no explanation since the words were in another language. This was my first impression. After reading the article and caption I realized what the poster meant and took no offense.
Unlike the article, the poster on display offered no explanation. I cannot imagine how offended the officer was when he first saw the poster himself. Miscommunication was the cause of this fiasco. The faculty of Westphal should have understood that it might be offensive to others. People really should look into decisions from many points of view besides their own. After reading the article, I went to see the poster, and there it was with the information beside it. The faculty should have done this in the first place, and the original poster wouldn’t have been damaged.
Freshman, Business Administration: Accounting