Dozens of Coastal Carolina University (CCU) theatre students refused to attend classes on Monday in protest after their professor allegedly performed a “racially insensitive” act.
Dressed all in black, students gathered in the courtyard of the Fine Arts building instead of going to class after discovering that the names of non-white students were written on a board and categorized by race without an explanation.
Theatre student Kelis Herriot said that the incident made her and some of her classmates feel isolated. “We are telling ourselves that we have each other when they don’t have us. Until we are met with the same respect that we give our professors, we do not owe them that,” she told WPDE.
Other CCU students claim that they do not feel safe on campus as a result of the incident. They said the “racist” action was wrong because students need a community that supports and respects them.
Professor Issues Apology
CCU artist-in-residence Dr. Susan Finque shed light on her controversial action, saying she had a conversation with two Black students after class and she was listening to their frustration and isolation. She said one of her students started writing names on the board.
The professor also stated that the only mistake she made was to leave the classroom without having someone erase the writing on the board. This apparently made students think their peers were being singled out because of their race.
Despite providing an explanation, Finque apologized to her students. “I actually should have guided those students toward reaching toward their peers…” she told the South Carolina-based media outlet.
A spokesperson for the university issued a statement saying that school administrators are aware of the complaints and are now working to resolve the issue.
Another Issue Arises
Several students provided ABC15 with some screenshots of an email where another professor, Dr. Robert Earnest, responded that the incident was not a big deal. In the email, he wrote that he was sad because “people get their feelings hurt so easily.”
Students described his language as unacceptable. Herriot and her classmates are now calling for Earnest’s suspension.
In response, Earnest said his message was not directed to students. He also admitted to making an insensitive comment about moving on from the controversy. “I had no idea it would blow up like this,” he stated.