GW president pressured to resign after 'racist remarks'

More than 100 faculty members at George Washington University have signed a petition circulated by the GWU Faculty Association demanding that the university’s president, Thomas LeBlanc, resign immediately. 

Disapproval and frustration expressed by faculty and students had already been growing; however, in early February, after a first-year student asked LeBlanc whether the school would divest from fossil fuels if most students favored doing so. “Doesn’t matter,” LeBlanc responded. “What if the majority of the students agreed to shoot all the black people here? Do I say, ‘Ah, well, the majority voted?’ No.”

This sparked outrage among students and faculty, prompting calls for his resignation. 

The petition goes on to list other reasons for demanding LeBlanc’s resignation. 

[RELATED: Georgetown has dropped all fossil fuel investments]

“We understand LeBlanc’s comment to be just the latest evidence of his disregard for both diversity and democracy at GW,” the petition states. It goes on to list several items dating back to the beginning of his administration, one of which would reduce undergraduate enrollment by 20 percent while increasing the percentage of students in STEM programs by 30 percent. The frustrations expressed by the faculty stressed the decrease in diversity and harm to the humanities departments along with the lack of transparency between the president and the faculty.

The Editorial Board for GW’s student newspaper, The GW Hatchet, even weighed in on the calls for LeBlanc’s resignation in an editorial titled, “LeBlanc was never the right fit for the University”. The first line of the piece states, “More than 100 faculty members want University President Thomas LeBlanc to resign. We agree.” It also goes on to address the “laundry list of reasons” for the president to resign.

The petition began circulating in early March and in an update on April 1, the GWUFA opened the petition to students and alumni gathering another 174 signatures.

[RELATED: Harvard faculty vote to divest from fossil fuels]

A student at GWU, commenting on the condition of anonymity, told Campus Reform, “indeed, many of the voices in favor of his resignation are fairly uncompromising, student and faculty alike.” The student added, “Sure, his critics will also cite his economic mismanagement and administrative bungling, but his most outspoken opponents lead with the whole ‘LeBlanc is a racist dictator’  schtick.”

The student offered their own criticisms of LeBlanc saying, “As for my thoughts, I’m not thrilled with his reallocations of funds between schools, slashing some departments’ budget[s] and enriching others based on his personal whims.” They added, “He treats running a university like a zero-sum game, when the reality is much more complex than that. That said, he’s far from my least favorite person.”

The GWU Faculty Association, LeBlanc’s Office, and the GW Hatchet editorial board did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AlexTokie