Georgia Southern department responds to book burning after author visits campus

Georgia Southern department responds to book burning after author visits campus
Georgia Southern University's logo. (Source: Georgia Southern/Facebook)

STATESBORO, Ga. (WTOC) - A department at Georgia Southern University says it is “dismayed and disappointed” by some students’ behavior this week.

Videos posted to social media show students burning a book after the author visited the campus.

Author Jennine Crucet visited Georgia Southern’s Statesboro Campus Wednesday night for a lecture. Students read her book for a first-year course.

Dr. Russell Willerton, the Chair of the Writing and Linguistics Department at Georgia Southern, says the discussion “devolved into accusations of Crucet demonstrating racism against white people.”

Dr. Willerton asked students to “remain civil in disagreement, even on difficult issues.”

Dr. Russell Willerton's statement.
Dr. Russell Willerton's statement. (Source: Dr. Russell Willerton)

Crucet responded on Twitter, saying "This is where we are, America."

She added that she met “amazing, brilliant students” and that she was happy to know them.

Crucet was supposed to have another discussion at Georgia Southern’s Armstrong Campus Thursday night. A flyer was posted saying it was canceled due to “unforeseen circumstances.”

Even though the incident happened in Statesboro, students at Georgia Southern’s Savannah campus reacted too, as well as Georgia Southern’s President Dr. Kyle Marrero.

“I am shocked, appalled, and gravely disappointed in the actions of a small group of students in burning Ms. Crucet’s book. I can respect Ms. Crucet’s feelings to want to cancel and I apologize on behalf of Georgia Southern University for the behavior of a very small subset of our students,” said Dr. Marrero in a released statement.

Student leaders from Georgia Southern’s Armstrong and Statesboro campuses say this incident should prompt dialogue for people to see other’s perspectives.

“We want to make sure the university understands how students feel about it. And when they get student input, we can actually make real change,” said Taylor Tyack, Student Government Association.

Students and university officials opened the Student Government Association’s regular meeting on Monday with a forum on diversity at Georgia Southern’s Armstrong campus. Another opportunity for discussion will be at the SGA meeting on Wednesday evening at the Statesboro campus at 6:30 p.m.

Student leaders hope these two meetings bring dialogue and bring people together.

Another part of the university’s response is to educate students on the history of book burning. On Tuesday, Oct. 15, the History Department will host a teach-in on “book-burning, censorship and free speech in historical perspective” on Georgia Southern’s Statesboro campus. It’s happening at 5:30 p.m. in the Inter-disciplinary Academic Building.

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