President Kyle Marrero spoke at the Georgia Southern Armstrong campus Monday.

SAVANNAH Georgia Southern University President Kyle Marrero fielded questions regarding the book-burning that took place last Wednesday at an open forum event on the Armstrong campus Monday. 

Marrero said that the students that were involved in the burning of Jennine Capó Crucet’s novel “Make Your Home Among Strangers” outside a GS residence hall last week are not being being punished because they are protected by their first amendment rights according to administration.

“This is a campus of which we have to unite together and understand what we will tolerate what we will allow to happen on our campus’ and then how we will uphold First Amendment rights,” Marrero said. “These aren’t easy conversations.”

Marrero said that he sympathized with students, but that he has to protect student’s rights.

“Some of you would like to see more formal action taken on the students in the video and I can empathize–I can sympathize with your frustration and even your anger,” Marrero said. “My job is to protect the rights of all students.”

A student in the audience asked the question, “Why must minorities and persons of color rise above the blatant hate that people of caucasian descent show?”

Marrero responded that it is needed in order to continue to collaborate together. The president then spoke on his statement that he released Friday.

“I am not able to respond as quickly as you would like me to respond. I don’t respond at the speed of social media,” Marrero said. “It wasn’t until we had via investigation enough information for me to respond to campus. The approval for that statement was expedited via the legal and system process and sent to campus Friday afternoon.”

SGA will be holding another open forum Wednesday on the Statesboro campus. The forum is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the Russell Union Ballroom.  

Jason Chapman of The George-Anne Inkwell Edition contributed to this article

Nathan Woodruff, Managing News Editor,

(1) comment


I can appreciate the President's concern for protecting students' First Amendment Rights, but there is also a concern about protecting students' rights to a non-hostile environment, which the statement publically issued does not address. Many students on campus felt that to say that a book burning does not align with Georgia Southern value is to dismiss that there are any implications behind an act such as book burning. In safeguarding the students' rights to burn books the Administration is unintentionally sending a message that the white students' rights to express their anger is above the non-privileged students' sense of safety on campus. A simple change from "book burning does not align with GSU values" to "book-burning is antithetical to GSU values" would have been sufficient to send a strong message. In an institution of higher learning, it is important that we clarify that to burn books is not okay, no matter how upset you may have gotten over a guest speaker, and that burning books, particularly in that context, is an action that many are registering as hostile, as a threat, as an act of intimidation and silencing. Perhaps "punishing" the students is not something the President feels comfortable with, but I don't see why making a strong statement against book burning that comes from the University, not one department, not one student organization, is something that the President feels is too strong a reprimand on white privilege. I think it would not take much to show our diverse student populations that the Administration is truly committed to diversity and that it's not just a branding stunt, which is what many students feel it is right now.

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