A Tennessee university president is under fire after the decor and menu selections at a dinner held exclusively for Black students went viral.
The event, hosted by Lipscomb University President Randy Lowry on September 14, was only open to Black students in an effort to foster communication between the school’s officials and minority students.
Everything was brought to light after an Instagram user named Nakaylavonne posted a video with a caption detailing her discomfort.
“As we arrived to the president’s home and proceeded to go in we seen cotton as the center pieces,” she wrote. “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,” she wrote.
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
She also mentions that Latino students were invited to have dinner the night prior and were served tacos.
But she went on to say that aside from the menu selection and decorations, Black students were looking forward to sharing their thoughts on diversity, inclusion and funding for minority students, but the moment never came.
Lowry wrote an email apologizing for the insensitivity after multiple students voiced their concerns. His full statement was later shared in a Facebook post.
“The content of the centerpieces was offensive, and I could have handled the situation with more sensitivity. I sincerely apologize for the discomfort, anger or disappointment we caused and solicit your forgiveness,” he wrote. Lowry also said he welcomes continued conversation on the subject.
Lipscomb University is a majority white institution where white students account for more than 76 percent of the undergraduate population. Black students make up 7 percent, Hispanic students make up less than 7 percent and Asian student less than 3 percent, according to CollegeFactual.com.