Kennesaw State University student Alexa Vaca, speaking into the bullhorn, addresses supporters and bystanders at a rally on the Kennesaw campus on Thursday demanding administrators do more to prevent racist acts on campus.
Photo: ERIC STIRGUS / ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM.
Photo: ERIC STIRGUS / ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM.

Demonstrators want KSU to create anti-racism center on campus

Kennesaw State University is one of the most racially diverse campuses in Georgia, but some students and community activists gathered there Thursday to say administrators aren’t doing enough to prevent racist acts and punish those who commit them.

Seven speakers led a midday rally on the university’s Kennesaw campus that at one point drew about 60 supporters and onlookers. One of the main demands is that KSU open an anti-racism center on campus, which speakers said was promised by a former university president a decade ago.

“Students, faculty and staff have been waiting for years for change. We are tired of waiting,” said Alexa Vaca, a KSU senior political science major and leader of KSUnited, a student group focused on campus diversity issues.

Vaca’s group and some civil rights organizations have been vocal on such issues recently after a social media thread emerged of an African-American student photographed without his knowledge with the caption: “Need to call the Klan to solve this issue.”

KSU officials announced an investigation, and the university’s new president, Pamela Whitten, wrote to students and staff in February saying, in part, “Discrimination in any form is unacceptable.”

The university confirmed that one student believed to have been involved in the social media post is no longer enrolled at KSU. Officials have declined interviews, saying the case is under investigation.

Some documents that The Atlanta Journal-Constitution received Tuesday through the Georgia Open Records Act were heavily redacted. Other documents, KSU’s chief legal affairs officer said, were exempt from disclosure. On Thursday, KSU cited state statutes regarding privacy guidelines for the redactions and exemptions.

KSU has about 35,000 students, the third-largest enrollment of any public college or university in the state. About 45 percent of its students are non-white, state data shows. About 20 percent of its students are African-American.

Whitten, hired in June, is scheduled to meet with a handful of students about their concerns next week, Vaca said.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

X