Various University departments and organizations have issued written statements in support of recent student protests and condemning racist behavior.
The Roberson Project on Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation
The Roberson Project on Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation at the University of the South condemns the racist behavior and language that some of our students directed at the players of Emmanuel College in the recent athletic event on our campus.
In the course of their examination of the University’s 150-plus years of history, the Roberson Project’s researchers have uncovered many words and racist incidents in our past that have much in common with the deplorable conduct of some of our undergraduate students at the lacrosse match on Saturday, March 13. Whether we are talking about the era of slavery when the University was founded, or the many decades after 1870 when the University’s staunchest patrons promoted the white supremacist “Lost Cause” of the Confederacy in word and deed, or the years after 1945 when many—though not all—in its administration and student population resisted efforts to break the “color line” at Sewanee, many at this University have taken positions and acted in ways that denied the full and equal humanity of African Americans in Sewanee and across this nation.
The robust public demonstrations this past week by hundreds of students, joined by others in this community, mark the ways in which the Sewanee of the present differs from the Sewanee of the past, when official and unofficial responses to racist attacks on Black students and others in this community often were muted and shielded from public awareness. The Roberson Project applauds this historical break with past practices and joins with the many others on this campus and in its alumni community in recognizing that we cannot be quiet in the face of such events or dismiss them as isolated incidents. That is why the Project supports the most recent student demonstrations, which openly denounced the racist attacks on the students of color on Emmanuel College’s lacrosse team. We also stand with our students, alumni, staff, and faculty of color who heard in the racist epithets shouted at Emmanuel’s players a direct expression of hostility against them.
The Roberson Project pledges to continue to follow its core mission: to tell a more complete history of Sewanee by bringing Sewanee’s history with slavery and its legacies fully into the open and to work tirelessly to make known the contributions of African Americans to the life of this university and community. Publishing such truths is an act of overdue justice, and one that is essential if we are to build a more just and inclusive Sewanee.
The Department of History
The History Department at the University of the South categorically condemns the use of racist language at a recent athletic event and joins the vice-chancellor in apologizing to the athletes and coaches of Emmanuel College. We also reject the misappropriation of the Black Lives Matter slogan of "No Justice, No Peace," and the puerile invocation of Nazi oppression by students in order to protest the University's COVID-19 restrictions. As the University's Roberson Project makes clear, Sewanee has long had a problem with racism and privilege, leading the University to frequently turn a blind eye to incidents of hate; it is past time for all of us to confront this history, take an active stance against racism, and work to create a better Sewanee.
The Department of French and French Studies
Dear Students of French,
We, the faculty members in the Department of French and French Studies, would like to thank you for your activism in response to the racist actions of members of our community. You used your collective voice to decry racism and protect, comfort, and support your classmates who regularly face race-based discrimination and hatred. You revealed your belief that racism, being inimical to our safety and peace, has no place within our community. Additionally, you reminded us all that anti-racism requires action.
By this letter, we would like to reaffirm our support of anti-racist movements and anti-racist education. We stand with you and will continue to do our part to acknowledge and address racism wherever and whenever it is found. If you would like to speak with any of us, please do feel free to contact us via email. Otherwise, you may want to send an anonymous message using this link.
Aymeric Glacet, Ph.D.
Julian Ledford. Ph.D.
Kathryn Mills, Ph.D.
Don Rung, Ph.D.
The Department of Women's and Gender Studies
Women’s and Gender Studies at Sewanee unequivocally condemns the recent racist attacks on the student-athletes and coaches of Emmanuel College and joins the vice-chancellor in apologizing to them. We also denounce a recent incident in which some Sewanee students misappropriated the Black Lives Matter slogan “No Justice, No Peace,” intentionally distorting it in a glib and superficial way. This is not only offensive, but as Alicia Garza reminds us, erases the specific context of state violence in which “Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.” (Alicia Garza, “A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement,” The Feminist Wire, Oct. 7, 2014) Further, the disrespectful remarks towards Vice-Chancellor Brigety posted by some students in the chat during a recent Zoom meeting to discuss violations related to Shake Day, along with previously reported attacks on his family’s residence, strongly suggest the need for additional anti-racist curriculum and pedagogy at Sewanee. We call on our fellow faculty to join us in implementing these and all other changes necessary to dismantle the system of White supremacy in all of its manifestations on this campus.
Department of Spanish and Italian
As professors in the Department of Spanish and Italian, we wish to express our commitment to the fight against racist intolerance on campus. Over the past week, we have been inspired by your swift organization of a walkout and an athletes’ march against hateful speech and racism, which sent an important message about your dedication to building a community in which all students will feel safe and welcome. Please know that you can count on us for future efforts and actions aimed at fostering a positive campus culture at Sewanee.
Professors Ángela Jordan
The Business Minor Program
In a letter from its director, “the Business Minor Program decries racism, bigotry, and hate in all their blatant and insidious forms, whether by word, by action, or by non-responsiveness. Only through respect, understanding, compassion, and appreciation of and toward all, without prejudice and intolerance, can we, as a university and as a community, move forward and achieve higher heights.”
The Department of Politics
The Politics Department condemns the racist acts recently occurring on campus. Racism has no place in democracy, which is predicated on the equality of all members of the community. We stand in solidarity with all who have been hurt by these acts. We recommit our department as a place to affirm anti-racism in our curriculum, to value all students equally, and to create a broadly inclusive community in the shaping and sharing of knowledge.
The Sewanee Integrated Program in the Environment, the Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability, and the Sewanee Environmental Justice Working Group
A healthy, sustainable, and regenerative environment is free of racism, discrimination, and hate. It supports diversity, equity, and inclusion, and fosters dignity, respect, and opportunity for all.
The Sewanee Integrated Program in the Environment, the Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability, and the Sewanee Environmental Justice Working Group strongly condemn the use of racist language, acts of violence and vandalism, and microaggressions against people of color on our campus and in our community. We pledge to use our offices to advocate for, support, center, and elevate people of color.
There can be no environmental justice without racial justice.
The Department of International and Global Studies
We, the Program Committee of International and Global Studies at Sewanee, want to add our strong support and voices to those standing up against racism on our campus. We join our community in outrage and humility in the face of the many events of this past week. We are dedicated to teaching and researching the global processes of hierarchy and supremacy that have long pervaded our worlds; we use our classrooms to understand how these systems are replicated and upheld. We reaffirm that we are equally dedicated to knowing and dismantling systems of oppression at home. Today and always, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our students in fighting the long history of racism at Sewanee. We invite and encourage you to offer us ideas and suggestions for how we can move forward; we are committed to working together.
The Department of German and German Studies
We, the faculty of the German department, are writing to you today about the recent incidents on campus: vandalism, violent threats, and, horrifically, racist epithets directed at visiting BIPOC students at an athletic event this weekend.
We condemn these actions.
But it is not enough to say that we condemn these actions, we must commit to antiracism as a department and as a learning community.
As a department, we have made significant changes to our curriculum, our pedagogy, and our approach to the classroom, striving for inclusive classrooms that center the multiplicity of voices and identities living in Germany and German-speaking Europe and that support and welcome all learners. We also know that we have much more work to do.
You can help us. We invite all of you to join us in creating a learning environment that includes rather than marginalizes. Antiracism and inclusive classrooms require more than just education, they require sustained, active support by each and every one of us.
Accordingly, we welcome any thoughts or suggestions you might have for the department and for our learning community: curricular changes, inclusive pedagogies, co-curricular events, and the living and learning community of the German House. In particular, we ask all of you to reflect on how to support BIPOC students and ensure that we do not subject minoritized students to further trauma.
If you have been subject to or witnessed harassment on campus, we encourage you to report it using this form. We also invite you to speak with us personally about your suggestions and or concerns for German and German Studies or, if you prefer, you can submit those anonymously using this GRMN Suggestions and Feedback form.
Letter to members from the president of the Order of the Gown
By now you have read the vice-chancellor's email, detailing what happened at yesterday's men's lacrosse game against the team from Emmanuel College.
This news, coming barely a week after a slew of disrespectful comments on Wednesday's Zoom call on gathering limits, lays bare where we are as an institution. We are only as good as the worst of us. EQB in its highest form cannot be held by some of us and blatantly and brazenly ridiculed by others.
I hope you will hold each other accountable. If you were involved in these incidents, I hope you will come forward. After everything that has happened this semester, this behavior is unacceptable. The OG Executive Committee will not and will never condone it.
This incident has emphasized the necessity of the OG resolution. With only a few hours until midnight, I urge you to vote, if you haven't already.
In the past few days, I have heard many things from students, faculty, and staff. We're fractured. Continuing to navigate our lives in the midst of a global pandemic has taken a toll on all of us. But the exhaustion we feel at this can never be an excuse for hate speech or harassment in any shape or form. And if we cannot come together to take a stand against racism, we will not come together for anything.
As we try to move forward, I want to say a few words to the students on campus who aren't feeling safe: I'm right there with you. I'm feeling as disheartened and angry as I imagine you're feeling. So in the coming days, please take care of yourselves. Check in with each other. Do what you need to do.
These past few weeks have shown us where we are and where we need to go. I hope you will reflect on what it means to be “of Sewanee,” right now—and what it could mean in the near future.
Mandy Moe Pwint Tu
President, Order of the Gown