STATESBORO — President Kyle Marrero sent an email to all Georgia Southern University faculty members Friday afternoon to address the FYE book burning incident from Wednesday night. The email was later sent to GS students.
“I know many of you are concerned and disappointed about the incidents that have been reported over the past two days following a visiting professor’s talk on our Statesboro campus,” Marrero said in the email. “From what we have been able to determine, the night's events were another example of freedom of expression and a continuing debate of differing ideas, which are tenets of our ongoing efforts to align with our values and initiatives encompassing inclusive excellence. Specific to the reported events of that evening, while it’s within the students’ First Amendment rights, book burning does not align with Georgia Southern’s values nor does it encourage the civil discourse and debate of ideas.”
Marrero commended Student Government President Juwan Smith’s open letter and spoke highly of Thursday night’s “Protect the Nest” event. He then challenged the GS community to lift each other up.
“I continue to encourage each of us to remember to care for each other, including our university guests, and lift each person on our campuses up as one community, remembering that it is our common goal to provide the best environment for our students to learn, grow and succeed,” he said. “We can, and should, work together.”
Marrero’s full email can be viewed below.
At the “Protect the Nest” event Thursday, The George-Anne asked Marrero for comment on the issue to which he said that he would not comment further than the statement provided by the University.
Jalon Ross, a Diversity Peer Leader and a member of M.O.V.E., also spoke with Marrero at Thursday’s event.
“He seemed to listen and not really give me any generic responses, which I appreciated because I was coming with a purpose and I was generally looking for answers,” Ross said. “He told me there wouldn’t be any consequence for the students due to the fact that they placed the books inside of the grill and due to freedom of speech. If they would have burned the fire on the ground or something, then they could’ve been sanctioned by the school.”
Ross expressed to Marrero the importance of not pushing these issues under the table and asked to have conversations about these important events.
He applauded Jennine Capó Crucet for coming and talking about her book and the issues.
“I’m going to continue to get my voice out there and be heard,” Ross said. “Georgia Southern says that one of the pillars they promote is inclusion and diversity. This does not reflect inclusion or diversity, so I’m going to make sure that my voice continues to be heard.”
McClain Baxley, The George-Anne Editor-in-Chief, firstname.lastname@example.org