'White History' Flier Stirs Mercer Campus

7:27 PM, Oct 17, 2012   |    comments
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Anonymous fliers posted around Mercer University campus late Monday have sparked debate in classrooms and on social media.

The flier calls for a celebration of "White History Months" in November and December, saying: "Since there is too much white history to squeeze into one month, we will settle for two."

In an email sent early Tuesday to students and faculty, Mercer president Bill Underwood wrote that the fliers "demeaned efforts to promote education about people of diverse races and cultures and their contributions to our society."

MERCER PROFESSOR: Fliers Show People 'Stuck on Stupid'

Vice President Larry Brumley said that as an institution of learning Mercer urges students to "probe relevant issues of the day," but says the flier "wasn't the right way to do it."

He said the administration doesn't plan to investigate.

Now that Underwood has addressed the flier, Brumley said the university plans to move on to avoid giving more attention to the people responsible.

"Attention is probably what they want," Brumley said.

The flier's first paragraph concludes: "How much will you bet that there will be controversy over this?"

Students organized a rally Tuesday night to show their support for Mercer's diverse culture. Around forty students showed up to the event.

Mercer senior Melissa Plyler said, "We decided we wanted to put this together so we could be proud to go to a campus that had a positive and immediate reaction to something like this, instead of ashamed to go to a campus that just rolled over and watched something like  this happen."

During Tuesday's rally, sophomore Lindsey Hancock said, "At the end of the day we are all Mercerians, and there are only two colors that matter here because we all bleed black and orange."

Patrick Hobbs, a junior from Mississippi, said he plans to be at the rally as a part of the effort to "unite as a student body against the message of the flier."

He described the flier as "a satire in poor taste," and said he worries it will hurt recruitment of minority students at Mercer. He hopes the rally will show that the flier doesn't represent the prevailing attitudes at Mercer.

Hobbs said he first became aware of the flier from comments circulating on Facebook.

13WMAZ found several dissenting comments online.

One student called the fliers "clearly satirical" while another said it is a "cowardly campaign."

Noah Maier said the fliers became the topic of conversation Tuesday in his Race, Gender and Media class. He said people in class advocated for and against the idea of a "White History Month."

Here is the full text of the email from Mercer President Bill Underwood

Members of the Mercer community:

Last evening, a flyer was anonymously posted in several of our residence halls that demeaned efforts to promote education about people of diverse races and cultures and their contributions to our society. The ignorance reflected in the poster is a reminder of the imperative of these efforts.

As a community committed to intellectual freedom, we seek to enrich the mind and spirit by promoting and facilitating an open and rigorous search for understanding. Thoughtful people of good will frequently disagree on how best to move beyond centuries of legal, institutional, and cultural racism in America. In this community, these disagreements should be expressed through respectful dialogue. We should always endeavor to rise above the thoughtless rancor that characterizes so much of our public dialogue today.

Gratefully, I have found that respectful engagement and discourse is the norm in this community. Let us all redouble our efforts to ensure that being a community of respect remains more than simply an ideal at Mercer.

Bill Underwood

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