Thursday, February 8, 2007

Muslim students upset over drawing nudes

Culture: As the highly irritating be tolerant defense comes out.

A recent decision by Western’s visual arts department has left some Muslim students torn between their love for drawing and painting and their devotion to Islam.

After making accommodations for students for several years, the visual arts department added a note to the bottom of nine course descriptions effective Sept. 1, 2005, indicating “some sessions may involve drawing from the nude (female or male) as a required component of the course.”

.....Due to the increasing frequency of student concerns and the faculty’s general discomfort with compromising the curriculum, the visual arts department added the note to the descriptions of several courses which may or may not include life drawing, depending on individual professors’ choices each year.

“By indicating to students that drawing from the nude is a required part of course work, the visual arts department is respectfully attempting to assist students in making choices for their education,” said Patrick Mahon, chair of the visual arts department, who is on sabbatical this year.

“The department offers a wide range of studio courses and if students do not choose to take drawing and painting — for whatever reason — they are not required to do so.”

But that is not good enough for some.

Hassan Ahmad, president of the Muslim Students’ Association, said he and the MSA would like to follow up the matter so Muslim students won’t have to deal with it in the future.

“The university shouldn’t make this black and white,” Ahmad said. “They should accept that they have a variety of people from a variety of different backgrounds. It’s not fair to just say, ‘this is how The West does things.’ You have to be tolerant of others’ traditions, because we have important traditions too.”

Milde and Mahon said the note wasn’t meant to attack anyone’s religious or personal freedom.

Milde said some professors felt the curriculum was being “detoured.”

Just because you have important traditions doesn't mean everyone else has to drop what they are doing to accomdate your wishes. The school shouldn't have allowed alternatives in the first place to wants of a handful of students. Now they have corrected the policy, you are going to hear cries of discrimination in the coming days. The school is saying this isn't Burger King where you can have it your way, deal with it.

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