The University of Maryland-Baltimore County’s president has apologized for the decision to move an undergraduate’s research poster, which featured a large image of the female reproductive anatomy, during an annual symposium.
The controversy arose during an event known as the Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day, a showcase for student-led research projects. Near the entrance to the event was a student’s poster portraying “an artistic rendering of the female anatomy,” said Lisa Akchin, a university spokeswoman. Campus officials decided to relocate the poster because they worried it might not be appropriate for the middle-school students who were expected to attend.
— Michael_Lane (@Michael_Lane) April 27, 2016
A letter signed by members of the university’s faculty and staff stated that the poster had been moved “to an alternate location and surrounded by several signs warning of content that might be inappropriate for viewers under 17.” The letter said that the presentation had been “sidelined by an NC-17 rating,” and urged the university’s president, Freeman A. Hrabowski III, to apologize. He did so in an email to the campus.
“On behalf of the university, I apologize to the student researchers and their mentors,” he wrote. “I will also be meeting with the student researchers to express the university’s support for their scholarly work and our deep regret about the circumstances.”
“The institution feels strongly that academic freedom, especially in the context of a research symposium, is an overarching value,” said Ms. Akchin. “People acted with the best of intentions to the middle-school students.”
The university agreed to give the students whose poster had been moved a chance to present their research again, in early May. The presentation will be followed by a discussion of academic freedom and its importance at the university.