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Wentworth responds to letter supporting administration over library controversy

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Chris Wentworth, president of Doane’s American Association of University Professors chapter, has refuted the letter supporting the administration in the censorship of the blackface exhibit.

In a letter to the editors of Doane Student Media, which can be read below, Wentworth says that many of the points brought up in the letter supporting the administration are incorrect.

The letter supporting the administration, see below, has been signed by members of the Doane faculty, staff and administration. In addition to other criticisms of the AAUP’s condemnation of the administration's actions, the letter claims that no context was given to the display of the photos.

Wentworth says this is not true.

Using the vocabulary of professional curators, the photographs had context: they were part of a collection of photos, ephemera, and text of student life in Doane’s history,” Wenworth says in his letter. “The majority of the content was from student scrapbooks dating from the late 1800s - 1930s. The content was related to the social lives of Doane students. The exhibit had a title and the photographs had captions.”

Wentworth also notes that Library Director Melissa Gomis, who is on administrative leave because of the display, took the student’s concern seriously when there was a complaint about the photos.

In his letter, Wentworth notes an incident in September 2017. Posters with homophobic phrases and no context were posted across campus by SPB. LGBTQ members of the Doane Community complained about the posters, and they were removed. Shortly after, a campus-wide email was sent from Chief Diversity Officer Luis Sotelo, Carrie Petr, vice president for Student Affairs and Director of Multicultural Support Services Wilma Jackson apologizing for the incident, Wentworth said.

“Unlike the library display case, these posters were not solely in an academic setting, but rather widely distributed,” Wentworth said. “To my knowledge, none of the three Doane staff members involved were escorted from campus, suspended pending an investigation, or had their alleged crime announced by the president in a university-wide email that assumed malicious intent.”