WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An elite University of Georgia professor said students should stand up for diversity on campus, calling for a cultural shift and an end to white supremacy and racism.
University of Georgia President Kent Fuchs has made waves for his outspoken support of a new racial justice curriculum at the school, which includes more diverse classrooms.
But he also has a history of divisive statements, including a call last year for a “black death march” to protest police brutality against black men in the United States.UGA has seen some of the largest protests against President Donald Trump in years in the wake of a series of police killings of unarmed black men.
The school has also faced criticism for hiring white, conservative administrators who have clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters.
“I think it’s time to say ‘enough is enough’ and to not make it harder for these students to be who they are and to be able to learn and to excel,” Professor Robert M. Tisch said at an April 10 commencement ceremony in Washington, D.C. “They are being punished.
They are being discriminated against.
And they are being targeted.
So, we are going to make a cultural change.”
The professor also said the country needs to stop demonizing the media and start teaching about racism, violence and discrimination against minorities.
“And that includes not just the media, but the media in general,” he said.
“You know, this has been going on for decades, so we are just going to go forward, and it will not be the same.
So we have to be really bold and start talking about how we can start to move toward change.”
President Fuchs did not address students’ concerns during his address.
He said that he spoke at length with students about the proposed curriculum and offered his support for the students.
“It’s not about me or the university or what we can do.
It’s about the students and how we are as a campus community to address the issue of race and how this has impacted our students and our university and how it has impacted people on this campus,” he told the audience.
“And I think the best way to address that is to start teaching more about racism and racism, and that is what the students are demanding.”
He said he was speaking from the perspective of his own experiences.
“But this is my experience,” he added.
“This is my first time in public speaking, and I have seen the reaction of some of my colleagues.
And I am just really saddened and I think that we need to be very careful and very mindful about the words we use, the tone we use.””
We need to say it out loud,” he continued.
“We need us to be real about what we are talking about.”
The new racial diversity curriculum has sparked protests in the past.
In 2015, several students at Stony Brook University, a historically black university in New York, staged a walkout to protest the creation of the curriculum, which they said would be “more white, more male, more conservative.”
“I am angry,” said student Jordan Wylie, who is black.
“This is an attempt to whitewash the past and to try to erase it from history.”
Fuchs has said he supports the diversity agenda and plans to hire a black professor at the university, but declined to specify a person or name.
“Our goal is to create a climate that is welcoming, inclusive and tolerant,” Fuchs said in a statement.
“We want to ensure that students are able to do their best work, and we do not want to impede their ability to do so.”
“The president said it best: ‘We are here to do what we believe is right.
That includes being able to have a conversation about race, gender, sexuality, and the need for change.’
We are all here to make sure that happens,” he explained.