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Bare shoulders earn failing grade for BYU-Idaho student's art project

Published December 6, 2016 9:34 pm

Higher education • Humanities professor deems her project "inappropriate."
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A freshman student at Brigham Young University-Idaho said she was surprised to learn that a recent art project went too far by showing exposed female shoulders.

Oregon native Waverly Giles said she received a score of zero out of 100 on her photos for a lower-division humanities class.

The photos showed a female subject with colorful paint on her face and were cropped just beneath the woman's collarbone.

"My subject was not fully nude and she wasn't posing provocatively," Giles said. "But yes, the shoulders were against the [university] dress code and it did imply she was in the shower."

BYU-Idaho, like Brigham Young University in Provo, is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Both schools require students to comply with an Honor Code that includes dress and grooming standards. But the BYU-Idaho Honor Code goes further than its sister campus in Provo by prohibiting shorts, capri pants, flip flops and "other casual footwear."

Giles said she respects and appreciates the school's Honor Code. But her professor had included images of partially clothed or nude artwork — like Michaelangelo's David and Delacroix's "Liberty Leading the People" — during classroom presentations, which led her to believe art projects would be granted some flexibility from campus rules.

"It's art, it's beautiful and it's appreciating the human form," she said. "I was kind of expecting that same amnesty when it came to my project."

Giles said her assignment was due on Nov. 8, and she noticed over the school's Thanksgiving break that she had not earned any points for the project.

When she confronted her professor about the grade on Tuesday, she said she was told her photos were inappropriate and given a blank grading rubric.

On that rubric, which Giles posted on Twitter along with her photos, the professor indicated that the project did not meet the assignment criteria and added a commentary note.

"I have no idea what to do with these," it said. "They're artistic but ..."

Giles' professor declined an interview via email and directed questions to BYU-Idaho spokesman Brett Crandall, who also declined to comment.

"University policy prevents us from commenting on a student's academic performance," Crandall said.

The tweet showing Giles' work next to the professor's note gained considerable attention online, earning 305 likes and 148 retweets.

Giles said she felt validated by the response, most of which has been supportive of her work.

"I feel bad for the professor," she said. "I don't think he saw this coming."

She said she was given an opportunity to resubmit photos for the assignment, but she does not know if her latest attempt will be for full or partial credit.

Her latest project shows a woman, fully clothed, her hands covering her mouth and face.

"The new picture that I turned in was actually inspired by this situation," she said.


Twitter: @bjaminwood






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