Anyone who has ever set out to build something extraordinary knows
how long and arduous the road can be. Along with the expected
challenges are sure to come some unforeseen potholes.
Carter, president of Johnson C. Smith University, hit one of those
potholes this week when several dozen of his students took to the
street to protest the suspension or expulsion of 15 students following
a campus melee in the wee hours of January 18.
Although only a
small number of students were involved in the actual fight, the
university says a larger group was physically and verbally abusive when
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and campus security tried to control an
unruly crowd that gathered to watch.
Carrying placards and
shouting slogans of protest, the students on Monday accused Carter of
caring more about the school’s public image than about finding a just
In the glare of this unwanted publicity, one could
hardly blame Carter if he sought a quiet compromise. But backing down,
in this case, would send the wrong message.
Let us first concede the obvious:
one – least of all Ronald Carter — wants to see young, black students
expelled from college. Education, we all can agree, is too important.
- JCSU must ensure that no innocent students were caught in the disciplinary dragnet. If in doubt, keep the kid in school.
- The appeals process has taken too long. Some students complain that they’ve missed nearly two weeks of class work.
Still, at the end of the day, the university has too much at stake to allow
bad conduct to spoil what has taken so many so long to build.
and thuggery have no place at an HBCU. They are the antithesis, in
fact, of what our institutions of higher learning should stand for.
his arrival at Smith more than a year ago, Carter has shown
extraordinary vision in laying out a brighter future for the private
institution. Because of his efforts, government and business leaders
have taken note.
In early January, the Belk Foundation gave
$500,000 to enhance JCSU’s retail management program. And last October,
the Duke Endowment pledged $5.7 million to support new programs on the
west Charlotte campus.
Nothing will dry up donor support faster
than reports of campus brawls and lax administration. And at a time
when global employers can shop the world for top talent, JCSU students
can ill afford to devalue their own diplomas.
important, we as African Americans should expect more from our
children. We must stop making excuses and set the bar high. Our kids
will succeed if we collectively hold them accountable.
imagine, even in your wildest dreams, historical giants such as
Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King Jr., Fredrick Douglass or Barbara
Jordan “wilding” on a college campus?
Yeah, the very image is almost laughable.
individuals — and many, many others — understood the nature of our
struggles in America. They had no time for foolish disruptions; too
much was at stake, they knew.
Sad though it is to see any student
expelled, I cannot and will not defend what is inherently indefensible.
With rights come responsibilities, and actions carry consequences.
While some may criticize Carter’s decision to expel or suspend the rowdy few, I won’t be joining them.