Before I begin, let me take the time to define “liberal arts.” “Liberal arts: the academic course of instruction at a college intended to provide the general knowledge and comprising the arts, humanities, natural science, and social science, as opposed to professional or technical subjects.” In short, by attending a liberal arts college or university such as Duke University, you’re signing yourself up for an education that broadens your horizons.
This year, a group of Duke University freshmen are protesting the graphic novel, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. The graphic novel depicts the author’s childhood relationship with her father, her coming out as a lesbian and her discovery that her father was gay.
The school’s newspaper, the Duke Chronicle, reported that some freshmen have decided to skip reading Fun Home. The issue began on the university’s “Class of 2019” Facebook page in late July. An incoming freshman, named Brian Grasso, wrote on the private page, “I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it.” Another freshman, Jeffrey Wubbenhorst, called the novel “pornographic” due to the graphic novel’s explicit drawings of events in the story. He wrote in an email that:
“The nature of ‘Fun Home’ means that content that I might have consented to read in print now violates my conscience due to its pornographic nature.”
So, what I’m getting is that Wubbenhorst is uncomfortable with the author’s own depictions of her own story, but would rather read and then imagine the events in his own head? Huh, that seems weird.
Grasso stated that Duke was being insensitive to conservatives when they chose Fun Home for the summer reading list. He said, “Duke did not seem to have people like me in mind…It was like Duke didn’t know we existed, which surprises me.”
Let me reiterate: you chose a liberal arts university. You chose to be exposed to various different kinds of thoughts and beliefs—you signed up for having your beliefs challenged and to be made uncomfortable. College is about growth and changing your beliefs—not exiting as you entered. Your education is not strict memorization and the regurgitation of facts, you’re being asked to think. Oh, the horror!
If this was not what you desired, then you should have gone to a Christian university or college. Hell, I go to a Catholic college and we’re far more open-minded than this.
[Lead image via]
[Liberal arts definition via]