A University of North Georgia professor has apologized for insensitive remarks made in reference to a student who is soon being deployed to the United States-Mexico border.
“UNG administrators have received a complaint from a student concerned that a professor’s comments made during a class (on Thursday, April 26) were racist and offensive,” university spokeswoman Sylvia Carson told The Times in an email, referencing an incident at the Dahlonega campus.
Professor William Black, interim head of the accounting department, told the student in front of others that he should ask those crossing the border some accounting questions. If they answer correctly, the professor said, they should be allowed in. If they don’t, they should be shot, Black reportedly added, according to students present who shared the information with The Times.
In a written apology obtained by The Times, Black wrote, “I want and need to apologize to all of you for some insensitive remarks I made before class when speaking with a student about impending deployment. My comments were made in jest but were or could have been hurtful to you, and I do apologize for that unfortunate statement. I resolve to be more aware in future, and am looking for appropriate sensitivity training to make myself more aware of the impact of my statements on those around me. I am sorry for any distress this caused and ask for your patience as I work to make sure such incidents do not recur.”
Black could not be reached for comment.
Carson said UNG remains “committed to values of respect and inclusivity and is examining the situation thoroughly to determine appropriate actions. The professor has issued an apology to the class acknowledging that the remarks were insensitive and inappropriate and his intention to ensure such incidents do not reoccur.”
Several students spoke to The Times about the incident and how they’d like the university to respond.
“Unfortunately, this is not the first time an incident of this sort has occured at the University of North Georgia,” said Nataly Morales Villa, student adviser in the UNG Multicultural Student Affairs Office. “It is crucial the university acts accordingly to create a safe environment free of discrimination. Racist comments from faculty and staff should not be dismissed.”
Brittney Yancy, president of the Black Student Union at UNG, said the professor’s comments were “hurtful and inexcusable.”
“People we look to for higher education should be sensitive to the diverse students entering their classrooms,” she added. “I want action of termination for this professor.”