Academic Calls On Colleagues to Repudiate 'White Supremacist' University

Petition calls on profs to join students campaigning for police divestment

The University of Cincinnati / Screenshot from Twitter
July 14, 2020

The University of Cincinnati was founded on "white supremacist values" that can only be combated by signing a petition, according to an email distributed to university faculty members by a white academic.

Megan Lamkin, the director of undergraduate research at the taxpayer-funded university, sent an email to faculty asking them to sign her "Pledge to Dismantle White Supremacy Within Ourselves and Our Institutions." The pledge claims that "white supremacist values" served as the foundation of the school's 1819 creation in a city that played a key role in the underground railroad.

"The University of Cincinnati is an institution founded on white supremacist values in a country founded on the same," the email reads. "We have been socially conditioned to fear black men, doubt black women, make assumptions about black students, and otherwise devalue black Americans."

A UC faculty member—who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution—told the Washington Free Beacon that the pledge was disseminated through a university-wide email that can only be accessed through the approval of an administration moderator. According to the faculty member, only a dean or assistant dean can send an email to the school's staff list.

Lamkin denied that she was given special access to the email list, but said she will continue to disseminate her pledge to allow all faculty and staff to participate.

"I do not have approval from an administrator or the university (zero endorsements)," Lamkin said. "It's a grassroots effort that has been discussed in various spaces, providing the opportunity to faculty [and] staff both for [and] against the pledge to provide feedback." The university did not respond to requests for comment.

The stated goal of the pledge is to create a faculty-staff coalition that works alongside the university student government (USG) and advocates for a list of demands released by student legislators. Some of the demands include removing slave trader Charles McMicken's name from all UC property, recognizing and suspending classes on Election Day and Juneteenth, and divesting from the Cincinnati Police Department.

"Failure of the University of Cincinnati to commit its unwavering dedication to its black students, faculty, and staff by these deadlines will result in any and all actions necessary for ineluctable change," the USG list of demands reads. Neither the list authors nor a USG spokesman responded to requests for comment.

While the student government has threatened mass protest if their demands are not met, Lamkin said she is taking a different approach to those who don't sign the pledge. The program director said she will not ostracize anyone who does not sign the pledge.

"Anyone at UC who receives access to the pledge can sign it or not at their discretion," Lamkin said. "I understand that it's not for everyone."

Faculty members who sign Lamkin's pledge are scheduled to meet on September 22.