T/S Golden Bear MURAL REMOVAL


#1

The following is an email we cadets at Cal Maritime received today. Virtually all the students are against the implemented plan to remove the wall paintings that encompass 30 years of our tradition due to a few SJW people.

There is a petition going around to stop it, although how much it will mean I’m not too optimistic: https://www.change.org/p/california-maritime-academy-stop-the-removal-if-murals-from-the-tsgb.

Word is, they will be hiring contractors to remove ALL the murals over spring break when everyone will be out and no one can protest. This is causing widespread anger among the student body.

I know it may be unlikely, but is there anyone here that can help stop this? If alumni called and threatened to stop donating to the foundation or something, perhaps we can pressure them not to cave into this suffocating political correctness.

Message from the President

February 21, 2019

Dear Cal Maritime Community,

Our academy has a rich history, and the experiences of our cadets are uniquely and intentionally different. One of the features of our curriculum is the learning that occurs aboard Training Ship GOLDEN BEAR (TSGB) each summer, as many of our faculty, staff and cadets ply the world’s oceans. This at-sea experience provides a window on the world — one that is exotic, new and exciting. This formative experience offers each cadet a snapshot of the adventure that lies ahead in a career as a Merchant Marine officer. The first time one goes to sea — I well remember the feelings of awe and wonder I felt that day — is special. It has inspired books, paintings and music for centuries. On TSGB, it resulted in artful expressions of these personal voyages of discovery by our cadets. I am sure that our alumni look back with fondness on their time aboard the ship, and in some cases, their own expressions of their pride in being part of a very special profession.

Over the last several years, there have been a number of faculty, staff, cadets and campus visitors who have offered comment to me regarding murals painted onboard TSGB. Some folks were proud, some were amused, some were concerned, some were troubled by certain drawings. Having viewed them myself, and trying to better understand all points of view, I can see how different people could view each of these murals with the diversity of opinion that has emerged.

The murals have also been a point of discussion – and contention – for a while with different members and groups within our broader campus community. They have been addressed to me by members of the Board of Trustees, Day on the Bay visitors, and faculty, staff and cadets. Recently, members of our faculty, staff and Corps of Cadets conveyed to our campus leadership that they found some of the content offensive and inappropriate. Serious concerns by all of these groups related to objectification, in particular, images that are vulgar, offensive and/or objectify women.

Additionally, over the last decade or more, several of the murals have been painted over or covered by cabinets or other ship modifications over the years with no attempts to save or archive the painting.

So, we have a situation where we want to encourage continued expression of the cadet experience at sea, create an environment of genuine teamwork that does not insult, belittle or objectify women, and still preserve the works of folk-art by our alumni.

With all of these factors in mind, I have determined that we need to take the following steps to meet the needs of everyone within our campus community:

First, we are going to immediately begin to carefully archive the current murals — all of them — rather than continue losing the murals permanently over time as more ship changes occur. I have directed the campus photographer to archive quality photograph the murals so that the art can be saved digitally, reproduced, displayed and shared with alumni and others.

Second, with the current murals archived, we’re going to create a fresh start — literally, a clean slate. The Commanding Officer of TSGB will develop a policy that allows us to keep the mural tradition alive. This will include direction on who can paint a mural and, with limited space, determine how long murals will remain before they are archived and then systematically painted over to make room for new ones.

Third, I am going to insist, and ensure, that whatever expressions of art that are sanctioned by the academy , such as these murals, reflect the level of professionalism that is expected by our profession. In doing so, I will also encourage our cadets to find ways to meaningfully integrate the timeless ethos of professional mariners into their expressions of art with our campus values: Dedication, Honor, Integrity, Respect, Responsibility, and Trust. Cal Maritime is a special place and we are committed to being a welcoming, inclusive campus, where every cadet who commits to our profession enjoys a sense of belonging.

As always, I look forward to your advice for the best ways to communicate this very recent decision to our extended campus community of alumni, parents, neighbors, faculty, staff, cadets, and industry partners.

In service, TC

Thomas A. Cropper

President

California State University Maritime Academy


#2

Oh dear how awful for you. The fact I had to google SJW I guess says more about me than you but the “suffocating political correctness” line is sad to read from someone presumably so young and desiring to enter a profession where getting along with people of much different backgrounds and world views is a major asset to survival and excelling at your chosen trade.

How far would you take this premise? Could they ever scrap this ship? Would the tax payers be stuck transporting it to an art museum and curating it forever to preserve your traditions. Have you spent more than 30 seconds pondering what those traditions are?

Obviously I have no connection to Cal Maritime other than having sailed with a great engineer from there but when I see this kind of reaction it seems a bit too pat, rehearsed and makes me wonder whose are the real snowflakes in this scenario.

Do something positive, take the photos and write a book, interview the artists, demonstrate their intentions were not demeaning or maybe they were.

Whatever, what do I know, I still use witch hazel for after shave.


#3

The core function of mainstream PC is to stifle diversity of expression. How could you expect to get along with people of different backgrounds and world views without having your comfort zone pushed? Only by policing language down to the lowest common denominator would we get there, and what a dreadfully grey place it would be. Whether or not I get offended is my personal responsibility, but I don’t want to live in a world where the possibility never arises.

Of course ships get scrapped, murals get painted over and things are forgotten. However, to erase something for being “offensive” renders the world a poorer place. This is not about a ship or a mural, but about a war currently being won by the tyrannous minority.

Indeed, this thread needs pictures. Badly.

Also, the quoted letter is so vague as to make the core issue very hard to read, I suspect by design.


#4

Does anyone else remember when sailors were allowed to be sailors and things like bawdy tattooes or salty language were just taken as a matter of course? The reputation has never really been that sterling and a maritime academy should still remain a little “salty” in my opinion.

I’m sure some of these murals which were painted by 20 year olds, twenty some odd years ago are offensive to some. So what? Accept it for what it is and move on to the next thing that will offend you and consume your every waking thought. It sounds to me like it is a tradition that has given each class an identity or display that lives on after they have graduated. Why not have a vote from the alumni on what to do with them?


#5

Bringing up PC and/or SJW is just an attempt to muddy the waters.

The core issue is who runs the ship, the cadets or the school? I’m surprised this is even a question.

The owner and command run the ship. If they want a coat of fresh paint get some paint, rollers and roll it out.

If the crew wants to draw dirty pictures they can use the bathroom stalls at the bar across the street like everybody else.


#6

That’s not how I read it. Everyone seems well aware that the school may do as they please with their ship, and that things will almost certainly proceed on the course they have set. What’s being questioned is their motivation.

The aspect that disturbs me is how this particular little click of the great clockwork fits into the big picture.


#7

It’s not art school, it’s a training ship. Or it’s supposed to be at least.


#8

Sounds like a tempest in a tea pot.


#9

The T.S. Empire State has murals and drawings all over the place from previous classes and cruises. Some of it hidden quite well where it cannot be found, some a little more obvious. The one that got painted over was on a door leading to the electrician’s workshop which was a mural of the TSES sailing into a giant ass with the words “OP YOURS '99” written under it by the engineers of that graduating class.

No one said a thing about it… not a peep. No big deal, just a clean slate for future engineers to doodle on… and if nothing reappears there, then so be it, not the end of the world.


#10

Sometime in the last ice age when I went to Maritime, the assorted paintings were done each year by the first class. The stuff from the previous years was painted over. But, since I am now in my dotage and wont to scream at kids on my lawn, my reaction is “You want to paint something?” Go get a bucket of red lead and paint the deck on the focsle."


#11

Well yes… there is that.


#12

You still shave?


#13

Slacktivism
The practice of supporting a political or social cause by means such as social media or online petitions, characterized as involving very little effort or commitment.


#14

That tradition goes back a long ways. . . at least back to the mid 80’s. Seems I remember an awesome painting of a buxom (big word of the day) blonde mermaid holding a needle gun on the door to the forward deck locker of the training ship. That’d be around 88-89 or so . . .


#15

I guess I am too old to consider something started in the mid 80’s as a tradition. So the “tradition” started on the Golden Bear that CMA received in 1971. The current Golden Bear was transferred to CMA on May 4th, 1996. All the Mural artwork on the previous Golden Bear found a new (albeit temporary) home in Brownsville, TX.


#16

Not sure if you’rer talking about the Empire State, or CMA. If the TSES, it would be the TSES V. The current one wasn’t given to maritime until 1989. So here’s how well that “awesome painting” was preserved:
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There are more pics here.


#17

Even in that condition, I think she’s still a better training ship than the dinghy that TMA has now.


#18

Those are some great photos, but they also make me kind of sad in a way.

I have no doubt in my mind that when the VI is towed away for scrap I’ll feel a little piece of me towed away with her.


#19

#20

Yeah, this is what I was reacting to before the first coffee hit bottom.

I’m reluctant to wade into a Cal Maritime internal affair which is why it’d be nice to hear from Cal grad with a little more time on task to see just what this stuff is. I mean is this glorified graffiti or the Cave of Altamira here? I never sailed on a school ship but sure seems like normal activity to me. It also seems normal it would come and go naturally over the years. Isn’t it likely some have been painted over by other cadets?

Totally agree. But what’s bawdy, what’s in poor taste, what’s threatening. Which is why I can’t get too worked up about this drama. That’s Cal Maritimes problem. My point was if a reasonably priviledged young person first and foremost needs to express themselves with an expression like “suffocating political correctness” when lamenting the loss of student murals then maybe they need some perspective.

About once a week at sea, but on that day when I splash that stuff on my face there’s a spring in my step brother and I don’t smell like a French brothel. Only 5 shaves to go.