STATESBORO, Ga. (WTOC) - It’s an incident that caught national attention. Georgia Southern University students burning the book of a visiting author a week ago.
A Georgia Southern staff member says the lecture devolved into accusations of the author demonstrating racism against white people.
A student-organized discussion was already held this week at Georgia Southern’s Armstrong Campus in Savannah, now it’s time for the Statesboro campus students to weigh in.
It’s not just students taking a deep dive into this issue though. Faculty members at both campuses organized an event called a read-in, where passages from literary works were read aloud, books that changed the way they look at the world and understand others.
Georgia Southern University’s President, Kyle Marrero, re-iterated points made in a written statement he issued late last week regarding the book burning, acknowledging many in the room may think his stance wasn't harsh enough on the students in question.
Some in the audience still pressed the president on the issue during the question and answer portion of the forum.
One student asked, “Does the University believe it to be racist?”
Marrero replied, “I wish there was an answer because I don’t know the intent of the actions other than ignorance, other than foolishness, other than not having an idea of what in essence that they were doing. But I don’t know them, I don’t know their heart, I don’t know if they are. But the actions themselves are repulsive, and symbolic of historic reflection of intolerance, and yes, of racism. Those actions, yes.”
President Marrero said during his opening statement that while he can empathize with the anger many in the room felt toward the book burning action, that it’s his job to protect the rights of all students, even if he personally disagrees with what they’re doing.
“We have to, each one of us, stand up and say I understand people feel differently than I do, and that’s OK. But have that conversation in a way that’s meaningful and open and vulnerable so we can get to something that’s better than we are. And that’s the case for every university all the time, we always want to improve. We want our students to grow past where they started. Sometimes it takes a moment of a real trauma to do that,” Associate Professor Dustin Anderson said.
Anderson went on to say that the faculty, the teachers are equipped to do that, help students through this time.