University president greets Black students with collard greens and cotton stalks

Originally published on The Daily Dot

A university president issued a statement of apology last week after many students voiced their concerns over offensive material showcased at a welcome dinner in his personal home.

Randy Lowry, Lipscomb University president, invited African-American student leaders to his house for a dinner and discussion about their experiences on the predominately white college campus. The evening ended on a less than productive note, however, as attendees took to social media to speak out against the cotton stalk centerpieces and menu consisting of collard greens and cornbread. One student documented her evening in a viral Instagram post.

So I attend Lipscomb university and as most of you know that is a predominately white school. Tonight AFRICAN AMERICAN students were invited to have dinner with the president of the school. As we arrived to the president's home and proceeded to go in we seen cotton as the center pieces. We also stood and ate dinner, there were no seats to sit in and it felt very uncomfortable. We were very offended, and also the meals that were provided resembled many "black meals" they had mac n cheese, collard greens, corn bread etc. The night before Latinos also had dinner at his house and they had tacos. They also DIDN'T have the center piece that we HAD tonight. A couple of minutes went by, the president was coming around and asking for our names and what our major was. He finally got to our table and my friend @kay_cyann asked why there was cotton on the table as the center piece. His response was that he didn't know, he seen it before we did, he kind of thought it was " fallish", THEN he said " it ISNT INHERENTLY BAD IF WERE ALL WEARING IT " then walked off. Later on all of us that were there were invited into the home, and we had the impression that we were coming to speak about how us as Black people feel about Lipscomb. The whole entire time we were in their home they only talked about themselves( how they met, got married and ended up at lipscomb) & the ONLY question that we were asked was our transformation coming to lipscomb. A couple of women answered the question but they sugar coated it. They said any other questions that we may have can be emailed to the advocate for the Latinos and that a second meeting may be held. Also we don't have an advocate on campus, the only African American advocate we had, no longer works here. The only advocate available to us is the advocate for the Latinos. They claim to have funding for minorities, BUT you have to live up to the expectations of a typical Black family to even get the 1000$.There is NO FUNDING for just us black students. #share

A post shared by Nakayla Pinkston🦋🌻🥀 (@nakaylayvonne) on

Lowry has served as president to the university since 2005, stating that improving diversity to Lipscomb’s faith-based campus has been one of his top priorities since earning the title. According to university records, minority student enrollment increased by 346 percent under his tenure. Even still, these recent accounts give Lowry a less-than-stellar reputation to the African-American community.

The president told Nashville news station WLKN that looking back, he could have handled the situation differently.

“Cotton is rather neutral. God created it for all of us,” Lowry said. “The use of it there was offensive when one puts it in the context of the history they were thinking about. Because of that, I apologized the next day.”

Since the incident, Lowry has told students he is willing to meet with them and address any individual concerns.

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