Witt, SCLC president discuss race issues

Katherine Martin

University of Alabama President Robert Witt met with officers of the Tuscaloosa chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference on Feb. 11 to discuss the organization’s concerns about the racial slur incident that occurred on campus on Feb. 4, said Cathy Andreen, director of media relations.

Both Witt and SCLC President the Rev. Roy Ferguson said the meeting was productive.

“I appreciate the opportunity to personally reiterate to Rev. Ferguson and Rev. Sanders that individuals who live, work, teach and study within the UA community are expected to contribute positively to the environment, and to refrain from behaviors that threaten the respect that every member of our community deserves,” Witt said in a press release.

Ferguson said the SCLC approached Witt to see that policies and procedures were being put in to place to handle the situation.

“Given the gravity of the incident, we wanted to offer our support to the University in its efforts to move forward on this issue,” Ferguson said. “These students are here to get an education and, as members of the larger community, we feel a responsibility to work together to positively resolve the situation.”

Ferguson said he and the Rev. Paul Sanders would like to see the penalties the University has in place carried out to their fullest extent and see the University continue to strive to make sure justice and equality is served, not just for blacks, but for all people.

Any time there is an incident like this, Ferguson said, it reopens old wounds.

“We want to make sure the healing process begins,” Ferguson said.

If incidents like this occur in the future, Ferguson said, he would like to be sure that they would have access to Witt and sit down and reason together.

The conclusion of the meeting, Ferguson said, was that the investigation was in progress and Witt reassured the SCLC that the University would do and was doing all they could to bring the case to justice.

Ferguson said the University would also do all they could to try to prevent future incidents from happening, realizing that one person does not represent the University and its actions as a whole.

“Many people act out of their own will,” Ferguson said. “But it does not include the sentiments of the whole University.”

Ferguson said the officers of the SCLC would like to meet with Witt again and appreciate the open-door policy he has with the community.

“I’m sure that we will be talking again as the investigation goes on and we will be meeting back with him again,” Ferguson said.