Ethics Dunce: Friends University (Kansas), Or “Why Do Colleges Find That Free Speech Thingy So Complicated?”

Cutting to the metaphorical chase: Friends University in Wichita, Kansas, refused to allow a student recital honors project titled “The Shows They Don’t Want Us to Produce: A Study of Censorship Throughout the History of Musical Theatre,” to take place on campus. Yes, Caitlyn Fox’s show about censorship was censored.

Brilliant.

Some of the songs Fox would sing in her recital were “Aquarius” from “Hair,” “Maybe This Time” from “Cabaret,” “Gethsemane” from “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Schadenfreude” from “Avenue Q” and “My Unfortunate Erection” from “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” among others. The program had been approved, Fox had been assured that all was well, and then the university’s vice president of academic affairs and dean of the faculty sent Fox an email that kicked the recital off campus. He wrote in part:

“I’m writing to let you know that in the past few hours we have received significant complaints from staff members and donors regarding [your] Recital/Honors Project. People who have worked at and/or supported the university for a long time are considering withdrawing their support if we move forward with having the recital at Friends.”

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