LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -McNeese State University has removed a statement from its Facebook page that had drawn fire from alumni and concerned citizens.
Universities are supposed to be places that encourage freedom of ideas and expression. But some were critical of the statement which suggested a professor was feeling the heat of being outspoken.
That professor, Dr. Janet Allured, has been an advocate for removing the confederate statue at the courthouse and said she’d support an economic boycott against ten police jurors who voted to leave it where it is.
Now, some are outraged about the statement published by McNeese State. It never mentioned Allured by name and acknowledged her freedom of speech, but it did criticize the boycott. It was taken down sometime Wednesday afternoon. It had 391 comments and 195 shares after being published for 21 hours.
McNeese spokesperson Candace Townsend says they just wanted to make it clear the university does not support the boycott.
“It was truly just a way for us to ensure that people understood that these were personal comments and not an official position from McNeese. Because after all, McNeese is really about promoting and building and supporting all of the economy in Southwest Louisiana.”
Former McNeese student body president Davante Lewis says historically, boycotts have been critical in bringing about change.
“Economic boycotts of the bus system that started in Baton Rouge and New Orleans and made its way to Montgomery, and Birmingham, where Rosa Parks finally sat down on a bus, was economic boycott. It was a system of people standing up and saying, ‘Until certain people and individuals do right by society, we are not going to spend our dollars there,‘” he said.
Lewis says the university should better encourage open and honest dialogue about race.
“The statement, to me, was just a dereliction of duty of understanding of academic freedom and the conversation of economic boycotts,” he said.
Allured was not available for an interview but sent a statement saying:
“A boycott is a time-honored method of bending the moral arc of the universe toward justice when elected officials refuse to do the right thing and take positions against racism.”
She adds, “When people feel dis-empowered, they use direct action techniques like protests and boycotts.”
Says Allured, “That is what the good citizens of Lake Charles have decided to do in light of the police jury’s ‘no’ vote against removing a racist statue that continues to stand in the public square.”
Allured says she endorses that effort only as a private citizen and does not represent her employer.
Although the statement was removed from the University Facebook page, here is what it said:
Recently, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury held a special meeting to solicit public input regarding the South’s Defenders Memorial Monument.
During the public meeting, a McNeese faculty member, as a good and honorable citizen of our community, expressed a personal opinion about the future status of the monument, as did many others commenting on all sides of the issue. This faculty member had every right to express their opinions and concerns before a duly elected public body.
However, in social media discussions after the meeting, references were made to boycotting businesses, employers and even houses of worship with some of the police jurors.
McNeese State University does not support or endorse these types of tactics and attacks. Our elected officials are also good and honorable individuals who care about serving the citizens they represent to the best of their ability.
Disagreements are not uncommon. However, McNeese does not believe that the path to being heard is found in malicious comments or attempts to hurt businesses or the livelihood of any participant in the discussion. We encourage conversations and dialogue that has the power to change hearts and minds and will serve as a catalyst to improve the well being of our community.