FGCU campus. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A Florida professor is facing backlash after his first week of teaching class called White Racism at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU). The class has caused so much concern that campus police officers have been assigned to areas near the building for precautionary reasons.

Professor Ted Thornhill, an assistant professor of sociology at FGCU says he’s been hit with a barrage of disturbing emails and voicemails about the class. Many people have criticized the name of the course, while others chose to send him racist emails and voicemails.

According to CNN, Thornhill shared 46 pages of emails about the course. Some of the emails were from parents of FGCU students threatening to pull their tuition, while others criticized the title of the course, White Racism. Some people called him the n-word in emails.

"Cancer(Stage 4) is what you and your family deserve for spreading hate, lies, & intolerance," read one email according to CNN.  

 

According to Thornhill. the course is about a “search for truth.”

"My White Racism course is not anti-white; it is anti-white racism," Thornhill wrote in a statement to CNN. "Clearly, not all white people are racists; some are even anti-racist. However, all people racialized as white derive, in some measure, material and psychological benefits by virtue of being racialized as white," he added.

FGCU White Racism course description

According to the White Racism course description, the course will “interrogate the concept of race; examine the racist ideologies, laws, policies, and practices that have operated for hundreds of years to maintain white racial domination over those racialized as non-white; and discuss ways to challenge White Racism and white supremacy toward promoting an anti-racist society where whiteness is not tied to greater life chances.”

The class has a capacity of 50 students. 

Mike Martin, President of FGCU sent a letter to faculty, students and staff expressing his thoughts about the White Racism course. In the letter, Martin said the course covers a “contemporary topic being explored and debated at universities around the country in class, symposia, by panels and in the academic setting under various titles.” 

“As our students have done, reviewing the course content is much more instructive than passing judgment based on a two-word title,” Martin adds.

"IT'S OKAY TO BE WHITE" signs found on FGCU campus

According to News-Press, one student went around campus recently posting “IT’S OKAY TO BE WHITE” signs, in an attempt to send a message to Thornhill. News-Press reports the signs were found in the same two buildings where Thornhill teaches the course and where his office is located. FGCU police officers sent a campus-wide email with a photo of who they believe to be the suspect. According to News-Press, the student was not arrested but may face disciplinary actions if they determine he violated a school rule. 

Florida Gulf Coast University is a public university located in Fort Myers, Florida. According to College Factual’s ethnic diversity report, FGCU is 79.7 percent white and 6.5 percent black. 

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