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In response to Dunahoo request, Georgia universities and colleges cite no malicious intent in White privilege curriculum
Dunahoo Emory.JPG
Rep. Emory Dunahoo, R-Gillsville, talks about projections for the 2018 state budget during the Eggs and Issues breakfast in Gainesville. - photo by Nick Bowman

Last month, Rep. Emory Dunahoo, R-Gillsville, sent a legislative request to Georgia colleges and universities asking: "what are Georgia’s universities and colleges teaching its students about White privilege?”

The response? A 100-page document compiled with responses from 26 Georgia colleges and universities stating that curricula teaching White privilege does not “malign” students or people who are White, male, heterosexual or Christian.

Dunahoo’s Jan. 21 request to presidents and provosts of 53 of the state’s colleges and universities asked three questions:

  • Are any classes within the Georgia public school system or the University System of Georgia teaching students that possessing certain characteristics inherently designates them as either being “privileged” or “oppressed?”

  • Are any classes within the Georgia public school system or the University System of Georgia teaching students what constitutes “privilege” and “oppression?”

  • Are any classes within the Georgia public school system or the University System of Georgia teaching students who identify as White, male, heterosexual, or Christian are intrinsically privileged and oppressive, which is defined as “malicious or unjust” and “wrong?”

In its response, the University of North Georgia stated, “We do not teach that individuals are bad or wrong based on the group in which they are a part, nor do we teach that these individuals are inherently oppressive or malicious.”

According to the report, University of North Georgia instructors involve the topic of White privilege — considered a societal privilege that benefits White people over non-White people in some societies — in classes covering a spectrum of sociology, education and psychology courses.
According to UNG’s statement, the concept of White privilege is “a complex understanding of privilege and oppression.”

Dunahoo told the Times that he is still combing through the report and said there is no timeline or legislative action plans until he’s done gathering information from the report.

“I’m not in the interest of picking a fight with anyone and this request is done in the interest of my constituents,” said Dunahoo. “This process includes listening to the concerns of parents, having a productive conversation with professors, and most importantly, hearing from students.”

Dunhaoo said that his problem is not with curriculum teaching White privilege, but rather, “a few bad apples” who prevent students from providing alternative opinions during classroom discussions.

Matthew Boedy
Matthew Boedy

“We want professors to challenge our students and teach them skills that will make them into good people,” he said. “But how is it being done? Are they teaching the facts? Are we allowing students to raise opinions and challenge their instructors as well?”

Matthew Boedy, an associate professor of rhetoric and composition at University of North Georgia in Gainesville, hopes that the responses to Dunahoo’s request clarifies misconceptions and mistruths about White privilege.

“This packet shows across the USG that professors and others are not teaching the way the loaded questions from Rep. Dunahoo imply,” Boedy said. “If indeed he was asking in response to his constituents, I would hope he would report back to them that the fears founded in their questions are not based in fact.” 

Boedy clarified that curriculum addressing White privilege and other topics regarding oppression are not “anti-American” in its content.

“I hope (Dunahoo) assures those who inquired of him and the same who send their children to UNG that we are providing no indoctrination, no anti-American education, and no ideology hostile to democracy,” he said. “We are preparing leaders, workers and citizens.”