Auburn University Sets Example By Swift Action In The Face Of Racist Student Behavior

Kweisi Mfume, President and CEO of the National

Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP),

said swift moves by the president of Auburn University and

the Board of Trustees to deal with displays of student racism

should be a lesson for other universities recently hit with

racist student behavior.

Mfume said: “The move by Interim President William F. Walker

and the Board of Trustees to suspend 15 students who wore

Ku Klux Klan attire and blackface to a fraternity Halloween

party was a step in the right direction, but they should be

expelled. Racism is not a laughing matter.”

Mfume said, “By expanding course offerings on tolerance and

diversity and appointing a task force to consider establishing

a multicultural center on campus, Auburn officials have

shown an exceptional level of sensitivity to the need for

cultural diversity in higher education. I am also glad to see

that Walker has also solicited and received the assistance of

the Southern Poverty Law Center in providing tolerance

training to AU faculty, staff and students.”

The NAACP, Omega Psi Phi fraternity and a number of African

American Auburn students told AU officials the acts of hate

that were displayed by members of the Beta Theta Pi and

Delta Sigma Phi fraternities are symptoms of a larger problem

at the University and the surrounding community that stems

from the lack of strong policy against racist acts, few ethnic

studies and diversity courses and few African American

faculty members.

The NAACP, with other student and community organizations

called for Auburn University to: suspend the fraternity

members involved in the racist acts on October 25th and

October 27th and place them on summary suspension

pending request for an expulsion investigation; suspend the

fraternities involved in the acts for a minimum of four years

from the University; incorporate diversity education into

orientations; implement an aggressive minority recruitment

plan for students, faculty and staff with measurable

guidelines; convert the two fraternity houses into a

Multicultural Community Center; create a strong retention

program for students of color with student participation and

to adopt a Zero Tolerance for Racist Acts and Behavior Policy

that will include a committee with students of color

representation, who will assess, evaluate, and enforce the

policy.

In a statement released on November 15, 2001 by Auburn

University, Interim President William F. Walker has agreed to

begin implementing many of the concessions called for by the

NAACP and black students and concerned faculty members.

The University also announced Friday that it will ask the

university’s general counsel to request an investigation by

the Lee County District Attorney’s Office to determine if any

crimes were committed in association with the two fraternity

parties.

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