Another school postpones 'American Sniper' screening

  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute postponed its showing of 'American Sniper' after receiving a request from the school’s Muslim Students Association.
  • The film will now be held alongside an "educational forum."

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York postponed its screening of American Sniper, scheduled to show April 10, after receiving a request from the school’s Muslim Students Association (MSA) to cancel the screening.

According to a post on the Union Programs and Activities Committee Cinema’s (UPAC) Facebook page, “RPI has long upheld the values of respect and coexistence, thus it is only our highest concern that this screening would not create any tensions or hatred among students at RPI.”

"If they actually believe that students would do something violent because of the movie. I just think it’s completely crazy."   

UPAC is RPI’s student-run movie theater sponsored by the Student Union.

American Sniper will not air tonight and will instead be postponed to a later date in the semester and held alongside an “educational forum.” In its place, UPAC will be airing The Theory of Everything.

UPAC’s website is currently under maintenance, but correspondence about the controversy can be found on its Facebook page and the updated schedule, excluding American Sniper, can be found in a post by its Reddit account.

An RPI student quickly created a petition to demand that the movie be shown, blasting UPAC for “direct suppression of a viewpoint in a [sic] issue that will shape the world for generations to come.”

So far, the petition has over 250 signatures.

The cinema has responded to accusations of censorship and explains that the postponement is meant to allow greater discussion about the film.

“We have seen numerous emails and even a petition suggesting that the cancellation is censorship,” UPAC explained on its Facebook page. “However this is not the case. Censorship is an attempt to bring a subject out of focus; our action is an attempt to bring strong issues into greater focus. We want to hold an educational event that invites members from MSA, the Student Veterans of America, and any other organizations that could take interest in this film to lead a discussion open to all RPI students and faculty members. This will be coupled with the showing of American Sniper later this semester or early next semester.”

A Redditor with the username AnthonyCBishop claims to have created the petition. He appears to have withdrawn his original concerns.

AnthonyCBishop did not respond to a request for comment from Campus Reform in time for publication. 

“I think the whole reason for pulling the movie is just a negative statement about students on our campus as a whole,” an RPI student who wished to remain anonymous explained to Campus Reform. “If they actually believe that students would do something violent because of the movie, I just think it’s completely crazy.”

The student also noted the cinema has shown graphic and violent movies in the past such as The Wolf of Wall Street and Selma.

A similar situation happened earlier this week at the University of Michigan when the school's Middle Eastern and North Africa (MENA) and Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) condemned the movie as offensive and asked that it not be shown. Since the controversy, the university has reinstated the showing of the film along with a discussion, actions similar to the one RPI is taking.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @y_mdbailey

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