Flyers advertising a new course to be introduced next semester has caused conversation controversy to emerge among students.
The course in question, titled “White Racism” (SYA 3930) will be offered as a special topics course to all students beginning next spring.
Dr. Ted Thornhill, Assistant Professor of Sociology, will be teaching the course in what is described as the interrogation of the concept of race ideologies and policies that “have operated for hundreds of years to maintain white racial domination over those racialized as non-white.”
The course and title has caused controversy among students around campus, with some arguing that the class should be renamed.
Marketing and Economics major Max Ortengren said he understands what the class covers, and understands that the class is important to some students’ degrees, but thinks the issue lies in the name.
“It brings a biased implication that only white people tend to be racist,” Ortengren said. “That’s not the fact.” Ortengren originally posted about the course on a Facebook post that garnered about 99 comments, with mixed reception.
“I have no problem with the class. In fact, I understand how important that class is,” Ortengren said. “We do need to look into history, because how can we avoid things from happening in the future if we don’t look at what happened in the past? I’m just saying what if we renamed the class?
In a poll of about 30 students, 23 students were in favor of FGCU offering the spring course, six disagreed and one was impartial.
Of the 23 students who agreed with the course, 10 believed the name of the course should be changed.
Suggestions like “racism” or “institutional racism” were among the name change proposals.
“Racism is based on the individual aspect and it’s not just white people that are capable of it. African- Americans, Latinos – we’re all capable of it,” Ortengren said. “So, I think by just the labeling ‘white racism’ has an inherent bias viewpoint to it.”
Click here to view Thornhill’s full statement