Fresh Artistic Controversy Hits Yale U.

July 11, 2008

Yale University’s School of Art is in the news again, this time for expelling a student who says she plans to sue the university for age discrimination and seek reinstatement.

The student, Annabel Osberg, was admitted to the school’s M.F.A. program in painting last year as an 18-year-old after being home-schooled through high school and enrolling as an undergraduate in California at 14. In interviews with the IvyGate blog and a local TV station in New Haven, Conn., she acknowledged that professors at Yale had criticized her work and even had given her a midterm warning. Ms. Osberg said she had then changed her style.

But recently, Yale officials told her she was too immature to continue in the program — even though, she said, they knew she was several years younger than most M.F.A. students when they admitted her.

“It cost a lot of money,” Ms. Osberg told WTNH-TV in an interview. She said Yale’s decision had caused “a lot of heartache and hopes that were shattered.”

Now she wants a court to force Yale to readmit her and is poised to file a lawsuit. Yale officials declined to comment, citing the privacy of student records.

Ms. Osberg’s drama follows another controversy surrounding an art student at Yale last spring. The university refused to display a controversial project by an undergraduate art major, Aliza Shvarts, who said she had induced her own abortions and wanted to put images of them on display as part of her senior art project. The project caused a media uproar, and Yale declined to display the work because, it said, Ms. Shvarts had refused to acknowledge that the abortions were faked. —Robin Wilson