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Rice University student group demands 'Black House,' statue demolition

A student group at Rice University in Houston, Texas, is “demanding” the administration fund a “non-residential Black House” on campus, as well as the removal of a prominent statue of the university’s founder — and student officials are deleting some comments disagreeing with those positions, Fox News has learned this week.

The extraordinary demand, and apparent censorship, came amid rising left-wing sentiment on campuses across the nation after the in-custody death of George Floyd. In recent weeks, a UCLA lecturer was suspended for pointedly refusing to cancel his exam for black students; a Cornell Law School faculty member was threatened with termination for criticizing Black Lives Matter, before the school dean intervened on his behalf; and a top University of Chicago economist was demoted for questioning the wisdom of defunding all police.

The call for a “Black House” was made in a public Facebook post on Rice’s official Graduate Student Association (GSA) page, written by Rice graduate research assistant Dani Perdue. “Here are what black undergraduate students have demanded from Rice Universuty [sic] administration,” Perdue wrote. “I hope they are listening! #NoMoreLipService #blacklivesmatter.”

The post also sought the “removal” of an iconic statue of university founder William Marsh Rice; the hiring of “more black professors, faculty, well-being counselors and therapists”; the inclusion of “hate speech” in Rice’s code of conduct; and an increase in the number of black students accepted to Rice.

An Instagram account representing the Rice Black Student Association (BSA) has published a longer list of demands, including that “If a Black new student requests to have a Black roommate [during orientation week], that request be honored.”

READ THE STUDENTS’ FULL DEMANDS

The students also seek “better lighting for ID photos,” noting that “many Black students have had significant issues with the photographs that are displayed on our student IDs. … We deserve to be photographed and represented properly without having to make modifications and adjustments.”

The Black House, according to the BSA’s Instagram page, should have all the “features of a residential college” but be “specifically made for Black students and Black organizations to congregate and hold events. … It would be best to have a central, safe space that Black students can meet and hangout in anytime of the day.”

BSA representatives Milkessa Gaga and Kendall Vining did not immediately respond to Fox News’ requests for comment.

After some Rice students on the Facebook page started questioning whether the demand for a “Black House” amounted to a call for on-campus segregation, the vice president of community engagement at the GSA, Alison Farish, deleted some of the students’ objections, according to messages reviewed by Fox News.

Farish did not respond when asked by Fox News why she had deleted the comments. Eventually, the entire demand list vanished from the Facebook page.

Rice University's campus is located in Houston, Texas.

Rice University’s campus is located in Houston, Texas.
(Google Maps)

Allen Porter, a Rice Ph.D. student, told Fox News he was “confused” when commenting was suddenly disabled because “the vast majority of the activity in the comments that I saw was civil discourse among Rice-affiliated persons (graduate students, alumni, etc.). Moreover, when commenting was disabled, I believe the only ongoing activity was in my comment thread.”

“I didn’t and don’t want to jump to any conclusions, but many of the comments — again, mostly quite civil and mostly from persons affiliated with Rice — expressed a critical or dissenting view of the poster/infographic relative to the implicit endorsement of it expressed in Dani Perdue’s original post,” Porter continued. “I don’t want to speculate on Alison’s intentions or motivations. All I can say is that I did not see sufficient disrespect in the comments to warrant erasing the much greater amount of respectful discourse that was recorded under the post.”

Porter urged the “GSA to err on the side of permissiveness when it comes to regulating the comments on those posts.”

“Intersectional ‘progress’ is going great.”

— Author James Lindsay

Perdue and Rice University declined Fox News’ requests for comment concerning the demands. Although Rice is a private university, it accepts federal funds that prevent it from officially endorsing racial discrimination.

Although the university wouldn’t comment on whether a Black House would be funded, the school has put out several statements concerning racial inequality in the wake of Floyd’s death. For example, Rice President David W. Leebron told students that the school would be paying “increased attention to issues of diversity, equity and inclusion at Rice and in our broader society.”

Commentators, however, pointed to the episode as another instance of left-wing campus culture running amok.

“Intersectional ‘progress’ is going great,” author James Lindsay remarked.

INSIDE AN EFFORT TO DEPLATFORM ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’ CRITIC AT UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

Radio host Jesse Kelly wrote, sarcastically: “As they should. William M. Rice said Rice should be ‘for whites only’. There’s still a statue of him on campus. That statue MUST come down and @RiceUniversity should be for black people only from now on. It’s the only way to make this right. #CancelRice.”

Kelly has led ironic efforts to have all major universities “canceled,” noting that all of them historically were linked to slavery in some way.

Black Lives Matter has advocated for a “collective ownership” economic model, reparations and the “immediate release” of people convicted of drug offenses, in addition to defunding police forces and other left-wing agenda items.

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Earlier this month, a California college professor reportedly was being investigated for discrimination and under police protection after refusing a request to exempt black students from final exams in the wake of Floyd’s death.

UCLA suspended Gordon Klein, an accounting professor in the Anderson School of Business where he’s been teaching for 39 years, for three weeks beginning on June 25 after he declined a student’s request to delay a final exam in light of Floyd’s death, the Free Beacon reported. Anderson School of Management Dean Antonio Bernardo sent an email to students calling Klein’s behavior “troubling” and reportedly extended the time students have to complete exams given the “difficult circumstances.”

Fox News’ Caleb Parke contributed to this report.



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