Faculty members, students, and others at Texas A&M University at College Station are pushing back against its president’s criticism of what a philosophy professor said were his remarks taken out of context by a conservative critic.
Several graduate students have started an online petition in which they denounce a statement by the president, Michael K. Young, as “incredibly irresponsible.” By Friday morning, roughly 300 people had signed the petition in support of Tommy Curry, an associate professor of philosophy.
“As members of the Texas A&M community, Aggies, and former students, particularly those of us who identify as Aggies of color, we are deeply alarmed and saddened by President Young’s decision to not support Dr. Curry in the face of these attacks,” the petition reads. “President Young’s response has not only exacerbated the situation but has legitimized dangerous and harmful rhetoric against a black professor at Texas A&M University.”
Earlier this week, in a column in The American Conservative titled “When Is It OK to Kill Whites?,” Rod Dreher described comments by Mr. Curry as “racist bilge.” On Wednesday, Mr. Young criticized remarks made by an unnamed professor — assumed to be Mr. Curry — whose comments on race and violence had recently resurfaced on social media.
“The interview features disturbing comments about race and violence that stand in stark contrast to Aggie core values — most notably, those of respect, excellence, leadership, and integrity — values that we hold true toward all of humanity,” Mr. Young said.
But Mr. Curry spoke as part of a wider discussion of interracial violence on a four-year-old podcast. The scholar has since refuted Mr. Dreher’s argument and told The Chronicle his remarks were not “an incitement to violence.” He also said he had received death threats and hate mail.
“Anyone who has listened to the podcast gets that. This is an attempt by the alt-right and conservatives to demonize a black professor,” Mr. Curry said.
Desirae Embree, a Ph.D. student in English, said that a mix of undergraduates, alumni, and other graduate students had organized the petition and that others had sent personal letters to Mr. Young.
“We wanted a way to indicate to the administration that Dr. Curry is a respected member of our community, and that graduate students were behind him in this issue,” Ms. Embree wrote in an email to The Chronicle.
Some faculty members also expressed their support for Mr. Curry to a local TV station.
“Nowhere in the comments is my colleague, Dr. Curry, calling for the killing of white people,” said Felipe Hinojosa, an associate professor of history and director of undergraduate studies.
The university’s administration didn’t immediately respond to The Chronicle’s request for comment.
Correction (5/12/2017, 2:55 p.m.): This post originally misstated the field in which a graduate student is seeking a degree. Desirae Embree is a Ph.D. student in English, not philosophy. The post has been updated to reflect this correction.