Prof: 'Exclusion' is part of America's DNA

Ferris State University held a virtual town hall on the campus racial climate after a professor’s comments offended members of the FSU community.

One professor claimed that “exclusion has been part of the DNA of this country.”

During a virtual town hall at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, in which participants discussed the university’s racial climate, an assistant professor claimed that racism is part of our country’s DNA. 

Ferris State Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion David Pilgrim began the town hall by asking attendees “How would you describe the racial climate that exists now on our campus?” FSU Assistant Professor Antionette Epps said in response that “exclusion has been part of the DNA of this county,” adding that the United States is “founded” and “absolutely engrained” in racism and “exclusion of certain persons.” 

”Until we accept that and agree that we can and we want to do something about it, I think the conversations on race are not going to get very far” she added. “I think a lot of people just don’t accept that the country was founded on exclusion and that continues to today.”

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As a former healthcare administrator, Epps says an example of exclusion is that “the leaders of our healthcare institutions are overwhelmingly White,” she called a “huge problem.” 

In a statement to Campus Reform, Epps said, “I believe I was clear in my comments regarding how an organization’s values regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) can be determined by examining the whether such DEI objectives and other metrics are used for executive goal setting and performance evaluation.”

Epps’ comments came after several other students and faculty members expressed their opinions and concerns regarding the racial climate at FSU. 

Associate Professor Rita Walters described Ferris State University as a “toxic working and learning environment in respect to racial climate.”

Ferris State University conducted the town hall after recent incidents on campus made some students feel “mocked and marginalized.”

Several participants of the town hall referenced Professor Thomas Brennan who, according to the Torch student newspaper, was put on leave by the university after he called COVID-19 a “leftist stunt” and who made “racist, homophobic, and antisemitic language” on his Twitter account. 

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According to a public statement by Ferris State University President, David L. Eisler, Brennan was disciplined because he “expressed via video and chat that COVID-19 death rates in the United States were exaggerated, and the pandemic and rioting were leftist stunts,” comments that “surprised and offended those attending the meeting.”

Brennan denied claims that he is a “science denier, racist and antisemite” in a personal statement he recently published. 

Pilgrim, Walters, and Brennan did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment.