A small group of African-American students at a Nashville, Tennessee college, Lipscomb University, were invited to a dinner with the university’s President, Randy Lowry and were greeted with tasteless décor, broken promises and offensive gestures, leaving the students feeling full of anger and confusion.
This dinner was specifically organized for African-American students to have an opportunity for open dialogue with Lowry, but the choice of cotton stalks as centerpieces raised immediate questions.
According to one student’s Instagram account, when he was questioned about his disturbing choice of decoration, his response was less than desirable.
Randy Lowry said, “[Cotton] is not inherently bad, if we are all wearing it.”
His acknowledgement for her concern shows his conscious awareness for why she was addressing the distasteful embellishment, and it displays exactly why her social media outrage was validated.
Lowry offered a forced, unsympathetic apology. He blamed his “innocence” and lack of time for conversation as an excuse for why he offered the blunt explanation when questioned at the dinner.
As if his crude sense of style was not enough, he continued the night with nonengaging conversation concerning himself and the opportunities the university has allotted for African-American students, rather than the promised opportunity for questions and concerns from the students to be addressed.
The same student mentioned Lowry had a dinner for Hispanic students the previous night that did not include cotton, but did serve a stereotypical dinner of tacos. In his statement, he did not deny this outrageous behavior.
The typical argument that the students are just being sensitive could be valid if this form of decoration was typical for the president’s student dinners, but this is not the case. The night was specifically set up to cater to the invited guests, thus completely debunking that theory.
According to Lipscomb’s website, only about 20 percent of its population is made up of minorities. Seven percent of the student population is African-American. The meeting was intended to address these shockingly low numbers, but instead showed a potential reason for the lack of minorities at the university.
To make an entire race of students, who are already significantly misrepresented on campus due to the lack of population, feel uncomfortable and threatened, should require more than a press release apology.
Lowry is of high stature at Lipscomb University and should be held accountable for his lack of consideration. If this type of foolish behavior is made acceptable, it will be repeated.