UNION, NJ – In the aftermath of the threats against Kean University and black students there by way of Twitter messages Tuesday night, a coalition of black ministers today called for the immediate resignation of Kean University President Dawood Farahi.
"The deplorable death threat against black students on the campus of Kean University did not happen in a vacuum, but arose from a climate of racial intolerance that has been allowed to fester for years under this president's watch," said the Rev. Ronald Slaughter, the senior pastor of Saint James AME Church in Newark.
The tweets appeared shortly after about 100 university students participated in a peaceful rally on campus Tuesday night in which they joined students across the nation to raise awareness about recent racial unrest at other colleges. The tweets, which threatened the black community at Kean, came from an anonymous Twitter account. There was also a bomb threat against the campus.
"President Farahi's meeting today with students and his statement of support for their right to express themselves is too little, too late," Slaughter said. "This president has not done enough to stop the culture of racism on campus. What happened Tuesday evening is a high profile example, but certainly not the first incident of discrimination at Kean."
The coalition pointed out that the “NAACP is investigating Kean University for firing a large number of African-American women on suspicious grounds. The university has been hit with numerous lawsuits alleging racial discrimination, many of which were quietly settled.”
"While we should all be shocked about the threat that was made against black students, those of us who are familiar with the atmosphere at Kean and who have talked with faculty and students are not surprised this happened," said Bishop Jethro James, president of the Newark/North Jersey Committee of Black Churchmen. "Just as the case at the University of Missouri, President Farahi has been tone deaf on the issue of race."
The minister's coalition also claims that President Farahi has not called for an increased public safety presence on campus and appeared to dismiss the seriousness of the threat by urging students to "continue in your normal routines" today. The ministers are calling on for an increased public safety presence on campus.
"Telling black and brown students to continue your normal routines after a death threat clearly demonstrates a lack of racial sensitivity," said the Rev. Joe Carter, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church. "Kean students have real reason to be concerned. Rather than telling them to act is if nothing happened, he should have made them feel safe."
In addition to Slaughter, James and Carter, the minister's coalition consists of Steffi Bartley, pastor of New Hope Memorial Baptist Church in Elizabeth, a national board member of the National Action Network and a member of the Union County Ministerial Alliance; George Britt, pastor of Greater Mount Teamnam AME Church and a member of the Union County Ministerial Alliance; Joseph Hooper, pastor of St. Luke AME Church in Newark; Jerome Stembridge, pastor of Saint Paul AME Church in East Orange; and Lanel Guyton, pastor of Saint Matt
Kean officials did not respond to a request for comments on the coalition's statements.