A statue of a man in his underwear has created a scandal at an all-female college in Massachusetts. More than 300 students at Wellesley College have signed a petition to have the statue, appropriately titled "Sleepwalker," removed from the campus.
"[T]his highly lifelike sculpture has, within just a few hours of its outdoor installation, become a source of apprehension, fear, and triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault for many members of our campus community," says the petition. "While it may appear humorous, or thought-provoking to some, it has already become a source of undue stress for many Wellesley College students, the majority of whom live, study, and work in this space."
According to the Boston Globe, the statue was installed in a busy area of the campus on Monday as part of an exhibit by sculptor Tony Matelli at the college's Davis Museum. The museum's director, Lisa Fischman, defended the statue and its placement on the Wellesley College website.
"We placed the Sleepwalker on the roadside just beyond the Davis to connect the exhibition — within the museum — to the campus world beyond," Fischman wrote. "I love the idea of art escaping the museum and muddling the line between what we expect to be inside (art) and what we expect to be outside (life)."
Junior Zoe Magid, who started the petition, found Fischman's statement unsatisfactory.
"We were really disappointed that she seemed to articulate that she was glad it was starting discussion, but didn't respond to the fact that it's making students on campus feel unsafe, which is not appropriate," Magid said. "We really feel that if a piece of art makes students feel unsafe, that steps over a line."
Most students interviewed by the Globe found the statue troublesome, but at least one member of the Wellesley community appreciated it.
"I find it disturbing, but in a good way," said Sarah Wall-Randell, an English professor at Wellesley. "I think it's meant to be off-putting – it's a schlumpy guy in underpants in an all-women environment."