Kansas City Art Institute expels student for sexual art RT

Ash Mikkelsen (right) is fighting to protect their artistic expression and academic future after retweeting Japanese-style sex cartoons of nudity and sex, known as hentai, on their personal, pseudonymous Twitter account.

from FIRE

July 6, 2022

  • The posts include drawings of characters engaged in sexual acts
  • Expelled student: Shocking passing ‘makes me worry about the future of other artists like me’
  • College creates rules to expel student for artistic expression, claims of sexual harassment and a hostile learning environment
  • ZJARR: ‘The history of art is full of censorship, but today KCAI is the one holding the fig leaf’

KANSAS CITY, Mo., July 6, 2022 – Somebody buy a bra for Venus de Milo, because the Puritan Kansas City Art Institute is getting ripped.

Incoming student Ash Mikkelsen (they/them) is fighting to protect their artistic expression and academic future after repurposing sexually explicit Japanese-style nudity and sex cartoons, known as hentai, into their personal pen name. Twitter account. The art institute investigated Mikkelsen, alleging the images could constitute sexual harassment and contribute to a hostile learning environment. Although Mikkelsen did not tag anyone from the university community in their posts or message anyone about the account, KCAI banished Mikkelsen for their artistic expression – and permanently banned them from ever re-enrolling in the school.

Today, the Foundation for Rights and Individual Expression has sent a letter to KCAI demanding that the school immediately rescind the outrageous expulsion.

“This experience has left me feeling angry, but more importantly, disappointed,” Mikkelsen said. “I’m fighting to show that it’s not acceptable to punish students for what they say, do or do — even if the administration doesn’t like what that protected activity entails.”

After a student allegedly found the account and complained to administrators, KCAI tried to justify the investigation and then expelling Mikkelsen for sexual harassment in a non-Title IX hostile environment under the Student Code of Conduct. However, the KCAI does not define sexual harassment under that code. It is clearly unfair and illegal to punish students according to unpublished disciplinary standards. Additionally, Mikkelsen’s retweets don’t even come close to dating legal definition of sexual harassment.

“The history of art is full of censorship, but today KCAI is the one holding the fig leaf,” said FIRE program officer Sabrina Conza. “Instead of protecting artistic expression – as it promises to do – the art institute pryed into Ash’s personal life in order to find a reason to be offended and then concocted a scheme to expel them. People are offended by all kinds of artistic expression. But offense alone does not justify censorship — especially from an art school.”

As a private university, KCAI is not bound by the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. But KCAI policieswhich it is morally and contractually required to uphold, declare that the school “is committed to freedom of expression,” “supports the rights of the campus community to engage in free speech and open assembly,” and values ​​”intellectual curiosity and artistic along with critical and creative inquiry.”

School first Mikkelsen announced about the investigation on their Twitter account on June 15 and discussed the allegations that same day. On June 29, Assistant Dean of Students Joe Timson told Mikkelsen that they would be expelled — without any meaningful chance to contest the charges — for violating the Student Code of Conduct.

KCAI gave Mikkelsen five working days to appeal the finding, which they are doing today. ZJARR connects Mikkelsen with one FIRE Legal Network attorney.

“As a veteran and as an American, I’m a defender of my rights — they’re something my friends fought and died for,” said Mikkelsen, who served in the Marines. “So for KCAI to trample over them so worthlessly makes me worry about the future of other artistes like myself.

Foundation for Rights and Individual Expression (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and upholding the individual rights of all Americans to free speech and free thought—the most essential qualities of freedom. FIRE recognizes that colleges and universities play a vital role in maintaining free thought within a free society. To that end, we place a special emphasis on protecting the individual rights of students and faculty members on our nation’s campuses, including freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process of law, equality before the law, religious freedom, and sanctity of conscience.

CONTACT:

Daniel Burnett, Director of Communications, FIRE: 215-717-3473; [email protected]

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