The University issued a statement to The Plainsman Friday after an event hosted by the Honors College this week sparked controversy on campus.
On Monday, the Honors College invited the president of the Auburn White Student Union to speak before a nighttime film screening of a documentary discussing white nationalism and white supremacy.
The event was intended to foster a discussion about the origins of white nationalist thought but instead led to a backlash among some faculty and students who said the College was normalizing racism by inviting the president speak.
A letter signed by more than 60 faculty members, staff and students criticized the College for providing the group a platform on which to speak and called on the University to take a stronger stance in disavowing the group.
The University released the following statement in response to the criticisms:
"Auburn University is committed to creating an inclusive campus environment where all students are welcome and encouraged to engage and thrive. We promote academic freedom and the open exchange of ideas as essential elements of a vibrant university. As a research institution, robust exchanges within the marketplace of ideas should be fueled by critical thinking and tempered with respect for the individual and for diverse views. Often at Auburn, our values of free speech and the divisiveness of dissenting perspectives are in conflict. The result of this conflict can sometimes create an unwelcoming environment for members of the Auburn Family.
This week, members of our campus community voiced their concerns following an academic event sponsored by the Honors College. The content of that event left some with concerns over its impact on our campus. We do not support the beliefs expressed by members of the White Student Union, a group that is not affiliated with the university, nor do we support our campus becoming a platform for the advancement of them. Auburn University will continue to rise to the challenge of learning and demonstrating the merits of productive civil discourse.
As a campus community that values both free speech and human dignity, it is our responsibility to approach intellectual exchanges of opposing viewpoints in ways that reflect our support for a diverse learning environment and the educational benefits such an environment affords every student.
Constructive approaches to intellectually diverse exchanges have been modeled on our campus throughout this academic year. We remain committed to creating a campus environment where diverse viewpoints and civil discourse can coexist. As part of this commitment, we are investing in developmental opportunities that will better equip our campus to more skillfully engage and facilitate these important conversations in a constructive manner befitting a great, public,
institution. In the coming days, members of the university’s administration will be meeting with student groups on campus to listen and continue fostering this important dialogue." land grant
The White Student Union, which has been labeled a Hate Group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, launched in April 2017 and has been responsible for dropping racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim fliers across campus that call for a separate white society.