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Shakespeare portrait torn down by Ivy League students over lack of diversity — but a new image is up

William Shakespeare (AP Photo)

You'd think that University of Pennsylvania students ripping down a long-standing portrait of William Shakespeare in the English department and delivering it to the chair's office — saying the image of the world's most famous playwright doesn't reflect enough diversity — would be enough of a shock.

Oh, but there's more incredulity to come.

When the students brought the portrait to department Chair Jed Esty's office after a Dec. 1 department town hall discussing the election, Etsy apparently didn't blow his top. In fact, according to a statement he released to the Daily Pennsylvanian, he seemed downright supportive.

“Students removed the Shakespeare portrait and delivered it to my office as a way of affirming their commitment to a more inclusive mission for the English department,” Esty's statement read.

That's not all.

Students replaced the Shakespeare portrait with a photo of Audre Lorde, a female writer who once described herself as “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” Etsy noted that the photo of Lorde will remain until the department decides what to do with the mostly empty spot Shakespeare once took up.

Junior Mike Benz, an English major, told the Daily Pennsylvanian that the students taking matters into their own hands was a bold, positive move: “It is a cool example of culture jamming."

Sophomore Katherine Kvellestad, also an English major, agreed.

“I think it’s cool that Penn students stepped up and decided to get the ball rolling,” Kvellestad told the paper, adding that students have more leeway to make a radical stand and “get the job done.”

(H/T: Campus Reform)

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