Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Students Have Spoken

The Merrill Moat, a long concrete retaining wall, faces the A and B Dorms in Merrill. Thankfully the college decided long ago to decorate the Moat with student art, letting students paint murals on it. The content is eclectic to say the least, and not all of it is well done, but it's an enjoyable addition to the campus. Every year the current residents of Merrill College vote on the murals, selecting 10 of them to be painted over and replaced with new art. Noting the somewhat dubious quality of some of the art, and the occasionally out-dated themes, this is quite a good system. This year, 10 murals were voted to be removed. Nine of them were painted over by the Merrill Maintenance staff yesterday, clean white paint obliterating the work of years past, a new canvas for some artist. But what of the tenth? It remains, spared the fate that so many had voted for. William Pool, the head of the Maintenance staff for Merrill spared that mural based on his opinion that it is the best mural. Mr. Pool is of course entitled to his opinion; however what he is not entitled to is forcing that opinion of the rest of the college. Yet, that mural still stands, and he has posted an email all over Merrill, explaining his position, and asking students to sign a petition he started in an attempt to save the mural. I would back his position, which seems to be that some of the murals are terrible and should be removed, and that the good ones should be protected, except for the fact that he seems to think that he is an arbiter of what is or isn't good art. If this was his own home, he can preserve what ever art he wanted to within its walls, but this was a decision made by the student body on a public piece of art, and in this instance they are the ones who have been given governance over that art.

I hope that the Merrill administration will uphold the students' decision. It would be unfair to both the students who already voted for the removal, as well as the artists who's murals were already removed, to overturn the decision. If this was a major issue for Mr. Pool then none of the murals should have been painted over, thus giving everyone a chance to view the works in question and vote again and allow for further debate.

I have included the letter that Bill posted; as it was posted publicly, I believe this is fair use. Personally, I am disappointed that Bill took this opportunity to both hold up one piece of art as good, and to dismiss the rest of the paintings as "crap". His position would have been better served by listing the merits of the mural in question, rather than taking jabs at the decision making process, which he should have been aware of, and at "American democracy", which is frankly irrelevant to the discussion.

I hope that any students who feel the need to petition for the preservation of the mural consider their signing carefully; in the context that Mr. Pool has placed this argument, it is an unfortunate coincidence that supporting the mural also supports the usurping of students choice.

1 comment:

Ryan said...

I completely agree. Just cause it's HIS favorite, or truly the best, who is to decide that.

You like computers and men; I like women, everyone has their own tastes....don't hate.