Kennesaw State prepares to celebrate Olens amid planned protests to support cheerleaders

Kennesaw State University officials are scheduled to have reception on its Campus Green Thursday after a ceremony officially installing Sam Olens as its president, but he may be greeted by some students and others planning a sit-in at the same spot.

The sit-in is intended to show support primarily for five cheerleaders who took a knee when the national anthem was played during the football team’s Sept. 30 game in a silent protest against police misconduct and racial inequality.

Cheerleaders are no longer on the field during the anthem, a change KSU officials made after the Sept. 30 game that they say has nothing to do with the kneel down. Georgia Board of Regents announced Wednesday it’s conducting a review of how KSU responded to the cheerleaders’ protest.

Kennesaw State University students took a knee during the national anthem at the officially installing of Sam Olens as university president. (Eric Stirgus/AJC)

Olens said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon he regrets how the situation was handled.

Some faculty members have told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution they will not attend the 10 a.m. ceremony, known as an investiture, because they do not feel Olens has been transparent nor embraced the concept of social justice. Olens removed the phrase “social justice” from some faculty job descriptions, worried it “could be construed as requiring applicants to pass a political litmus test or adhere to a particular political philosophy.”

Amy Donahue, an associate professor of philosophy, said she is boycotting the ceremony.

“I cannot in good conscience support the appointment of a person as university president who disregards student autonomy, institutional due processes, and truth,” Donahue said, stressing she’s speaking as a private citizen.