Carnegie Mellon University chief apologizes for papal parody
A Carnegie Mellon University coed's semi-nude papal parody in a spring carnival parade was “highly offensive,” university President Jared Cohon said on Wednesday.
“We have procedures for a reason: to protect both the university's interests and those accused of violating our community standards or policies. We will take the time necessary to discharge our responsibility to treat those involved fairly,” Cohon wrote in a campus email.
Before Cohon's statement, Carnegie Mellon's only response was that officials were reviewing the April 18 incident to determine whether community standards or laws were violated.
Cohon said he intended to remain silent until the review was complete.
“But in light of comments I have heard from people on and off campus, I have decided that an update is in order,” he wrote.
“I regret that this occurred and I apologize to all who were offended by this, for religious or other reasons, and especially to those who witnessed this behavior.”
The College of Fine Arts sponsored the parade, its fourth annual Anti-Gravity Downhill Derby.
Bishop David Zubik of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh contacted the university last week after receiving photos from the parade. He asked university officials to address what happened.
A young woman, wearing mock papal robes from the waist up but naked from the waist down, handed out condoms. Her pubic hair was shaved in the shape of a cross. Another student parodied an altar boy.
The First Amendment could be a defense if someone tried to press criminal charges against the unidentified student, said Vic Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.
“One of the things that are troubling about this is the calls for punishment because she offended the leader of a religious group,” Walczak said. “Free speech means nobody is above criticism, from the president to the pope.”
Carnegie Mellon has not identified the woman in the photos. She did not respond to repeated attempts to contact her.
A spokesman for the diocese did not return a call seeking comment about Cohon's statement.
Debra Erdley is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7996 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: Mitchell to miss beginning of training camp
- Rossi: Roethlisberger staging big comeback
- Steelers won’t negotiate Roethlisberger extension until after season
- After year off, Steelers’ Pouncey ‘ready to go’
- Rockies’ 7-run 7th-inning dooms Pirates in 8-1 loss
- Megan’s Law offender in Greensburg arrested when girl, 13, found hiding in shower
- Tri-state Tea Party group aims to broaden its appeal to conservatives
- Pirates notebook: Cole to make rehab start at Indianapolis on Monday
- Report blames pilot for 2011 Hawaii crash that killed Pittsburgh couple
- Perry: Guardsmen needed at Mexican border to handle criminals
- Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board suspends in-store tastings