April 2, 2018

Filmmaker Saul Levine Alleges Forced Removal from MassArt Teaching Post

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS—Experimental filmmaker and Massachusetts College of Art and Design professor Saul Levine alleged in a video posted to Facebook on March 29 that school administrators have forced him to resign following accusations of sexual harassment for screening his films Notes After Long Silence, in which he appears naked and having sex, and Big Stick/An Old Reel. Levine has been employed by MassArt for thirty-nine years. According to a report by Malcolm Gay for the Boston Globe, a spokeswoman for the school said that Levine is still employed and is expected to complete the semester.

In the Facebook video, titled “Free speech,” Levine recounts a February 8 meeting with interim MassArt provost Lyssa Palu-ay, Title IX administrator Courtney Wilson, and a faculty union representative in which he was informed of the anonymous sexual harassment complaint by a student or students from his fall 2017 post-production class. In Levine’s words, the 1989 film Notes After Long Silenceuses images from his intimate relationship with his partner “to speak about the complexity and representation of gender, war, imperialism, power, and the construction of dominant ideas about masculinity or femininity.” Describing the meeting as an “ambush,” Levine says that administrators in the meeting “agreed that he had committed sexual harassment by showing [his] class this film.”

Levine’s allegations follow the March 22 announcement of theabrupt retirement of photographer and MassArt professor Nicholas Nixon following accusations of sexually inappropriate behavior.

“The correct concerns about the abuse of authority on campus and the relationship to sexual harassment are not a bad thing—that’s a good thing,” Levine says in the video. “But all over this country, we are seeing a policing of the curricula. To put it in the jargon of the left, we’re seeing domestic neoliberalism, we’re seeing an attack on academic freedom, on the agency of the students. They are being infantilized, they are being told that only the least objectionable can be talked about or shown.”

Responding to Levine’s allegations, MassArt president David Nelson said in a statement “As an art and design college, academic freedom and creative expression are essential to MassArt’s mission. We believe that freedom and creativity thrive on a campus where students, faculty, and staff respect the dignity of one another and practice collegiality. When respect and collegiality are stifled, both freedom and creativity suffer.”

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