Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) is offering a course on “White Racism” next semester. According to the course description for the class, it is meant to examine the “racist ideologies” which “maintain white racial domination.”
While the course doesn’t start until the spring semester, it is already creating controversy on campus. Flyers advertising the upcoming course read “WHITE RACISM” in bold print, and have upset many.
Dr. Ted Thornhill, an assistant professor of Sociology who is scheduled to teach the course, released a lengthy response to the controversy in FGCU’s school newspaper Eagle News. He says his course is “not anti-white; it is anti-white racism.” Thornhill explains “not all white people are racists” and even states that “some are even anti-racist.” However, Dr. Thornhill contends that “white racism, in its various manifestations, has been and remains a serious social problem.” Thornhill also accuses white people of living “in a bubble of unreality.”
“Too many Americans, especially whites, are cocooned in a ‘bubble of unreality’ as it concerns racial matters.”
Dr. Thornhill believes that the controversy surrounding the course is evidence of ignorance, malevolence, and racism.
“Any ‘controversy’ generated by the course title or description testifies to its urgency. Attempts to paint the course as anything other than that contained in the course description, which is self-explanatory, betrays gross ignorance and/or malevolent intent as well as a self-evident need to enroll in the course,” he says.
Florida Gulf Coast University’s Eagle News surveyed 30 students who overwhelmingly supported the course offering: out of 30 students, 23 students were in favor of FGCU offering the spring course, six disagreed and one was impartial.
According to NBC-2 students at FGCU “know the professor well for his topical course choices.”
"While there is definitely substance to Dr. Thornhill's class on the history of white supremacy, the description of the class doesn't offer any potential solution and rather promotes a more divisive and victimized mentality," FGCU student Alex Pilkington told the Washington Examiner. "It's not that the topic of white supremacy should be avoided, it's that the professor teaching it has a somewhat known history of being a race baiter so therefore it cannot be taught objectively," Pilkington continued.
The school also offers a Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program for FGCU Students and Employees. It’s touted as “a valuable addition to Faculty portfolios, resumes and College Portfolios for Students.”
In order to obtain the certificate, students must attend six designated presentations, trainings, or events throughout the academic year. One of the optional events that meets the requirement for this certificate is called “Race and Racism in the Trump Era” presented by none other than Dr.Thornhill. Another discussion that fulfills this certificate requirement is a talk called “Combating Islamophobia at FGCU.” An additional event is called “Race, Immigration, and White Supremacy in the Post-Obama Era.”
Dr. Thornhill did not respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment in time for publication.
Richard Raps is a Florida based journalist who previously worked in grassroots politics.