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UNG catalog cover raises furor, viral debate over diversity
University alters cover image on website after reaction
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This original catalog cover featured a stock image that raised a furor over diversity issues.

Two white men in black suits happily cross a finish line, while a woman in a pantsuit falls behind and a black man in a shirt and tie stumbles in last place.

An unfortunate choice of stock images made the cover of a University of North Georgia catalog, and critics are calling it discriminatory.

The university’s Professional and Continuing Education course catalog for spring 2015 features the photo with the tagline “Why follow when you can lead!” The cover is now being talked about across the country, with varied reactions.

Kate Maine, director of university relations, said the university is aware of reaction to the image.

“The cover of a recent catalog published by our Office of Professional and Continuing Education featured a stock photography image that was not representative of the university’s commitment to diversity,” Maine said. “When made aware of this concern, we removed the image from the department’s website and social media pages. Additionally, the catalog will be reprinted before further distribution.”

The photo itself is a bit of a Web sensation. After the story broke Thursday on the online tabloid publication rawstory.com, other media outlets picked it up including “New York Magazine,” which tweeted an image of the cover along with “University catalogue cover accidentally becomes the perfect metaphor for America.”

Twitter responses include, “Missing: unnecessary hurdles in the two left lanes” and “A picture speaks a thousand words.”

Some disagreed, though. When asked about the cover, one UNG student said she didn’t see a problem with it but chose not to provide her name or be quoted.

A Google image search shows the full stock image used in multiple publications across the nation. That full image includes another white man and woman in the middle of the pack of runners on the far right side.

Photos inside the catalog show a wide variety of men and women of various ethnicities in various roles. Foot races were a theme of the catalog, and men and women dressed in business attire at a start line are depicted in more images inside.

The publication is now available on the Division of Professional and Continuing Education website with a new cover of a compass and an “Inside this Edition” list.

Maine said the university will ensure cover art of future publications is a better reflection of UNG.

“We have concluded that this was an isolated incident that will serve as an opportunity for increased dialogue across the university about diversity issues, which will better inform our processes and publications,” Maine said. “We have already taken steps to provide for broader review of publications like this to ensure they fully meet institutional expectations and reflect our community and our values.” 

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