Palestinian Mural Hits Brick Wall
August 27, 2006 8:57 PM
The Palestinian-themed mural planned for the Cesar Chavez Student Center has encountered perhaps its most formidable obstacle.
On July 13, the Student Center Governing Board approved the mural in a 6-4 vote. But within hours of the vote, board members received a letter from SF State President Robert Corrigan expressing his displeasure with the action and placing an immediate moratorium on all new murals at the student center, in effect vetoing the board’s decision, said Mirishae McDonald, chairwoman of the project.
In a previous statement, just a week before the vote, Corrigan told board members the mural is “conflict-centered” and “its focus is on international issues, not on pride in one’s heritage.”
“In short, it is at odds with the most fundamental values to which San Francisco State University is committed,” Corrigan said.
The planned mural, primarily sponsored by the General Union of Palestinian Students, has been in the making for more than a year and would be what is believed to be the first Palestinian mural at a U.S. university.
It would appear next to the Filipino mural outside the SFSU Bookstore and honor the late Dr. Edward Said, a scholar, writer and activist for the Palestinian people and culture.
Both Associated Students, Inc. and the Student Center Governing Board set aside funding for the project in their budgets this year, McDonald said.
The student groups International Socialist Organization and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, or Chicano Student Movement, also support the mural.
What exactly about the mural is “conflict-centered” is unclear, though GUPS President Ramsey El-Qare said there appear to be issues on certain aspects within the mural itself.
“It was something that came out immediately,” El-Qare said about the letter from Corrigan following the board’s approval.
ASI President Maire Fowler said they are drafting a collective resolution on Corrigan’s stance and plan on presenting it at their Sept. 6 meeting.
“The administration is acting very funny about the mural,” Fowler said.
According to the letter from Corrigan, he also rebutted the board’s approval of the mural because the Student Center Governing Board has not adequately adopted a policy to allocate the center’s limited amount of space and what standards and criteria any future mural for the Student Center should have.
Corrigan said the moratorium would not be lifted until the board creates such a policy.
In addition to the Palestinian mural, a Native-American themed mural is planned for the Student Center.
“The proposed mural runs counter to values that we hope have taken deep root at San Francisco State, among them, pride in one’s own culture expressed without hostility or denigration of another,” Corrigan wrote.
But McDonald disagrees, saying the Palestinian mural aims to break negative stereotypes not just about Palestinians, but also Arab-Americans.
“It’s about Palestinians and their culture,” McDonald said. “This mural is potentially one of the most important murals in the post 9/11 world.”
On the same day ASI will meet and present its resolution, McDonald, along with other project committee members and some board members, will personally meet with Corrigan.
“It’s still very vague right now,” McDonald said.
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