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SBCC campus to discuss emotions surrounding controversial teepee art project

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A controversial art display at Santa Barbara City College last month will be the topic of a campus discussion on cultural sensitivity. It's scheduled for Tuesday, April 7.

Native American students were offended by a wooden teepee, constructed on campus by art students.

Representatives from the various sides met last month, resulting in the dismantling of the teepee a couple of days ahead of schedule.  SBCC President Dr. Lori Gaskin said that decision was made entirely by the students. 

"I would have backed the students no matter what they decided, and that's really important," said Gaskin. "There's no better way to empower students learning than to allow them the opportunity to hear, listen, be heard and to make a decision in consultation with their professor."

Svetlana Mintcheva is with the National Coalition Against Censorship in New York and said she's happy there will be a dialog on the issue, but doesn't believe the teepee should have come down early.

"That already distorts the conversation," said Mintcheva. "You have a conversation that starts after a certain admission of guilt."

Those against the teepee said the display was insensitive to Native American heritage and was a misappropriation of a cultural symbol.