A University of North Texas staffer is under fire after students say she suggested naming an under-construction dorm building after a woman or a person of color would be a form of so-called “reverse racism.”
Student leaders said they felt the tone of university spokeswoman Nancy Kolsti’s email was divisive rather than inclusive, local station Fox 4 reported. Student Misaki Collins launched a petition on social media calling for the new dorm to be named in honor of a female, or a person of color, but Kolsti wasn’t trying to hear it.
The spokeswoman reportedly emailed Collins arguing there were a number of longtime administrators who were more deserving of the honor. Many of those key administrators happen to be white males, however.
“Insisting UNT must have a residence hall named after another woman or a person of color … is imposing a quota system, and to me, that is a form of reverse racism,” Kolsti wrote in the email.
“UNT buildings should be named after individuals who are deserving of such an honor – not individuals who are chosen to fill a quota system that you think the university should have because you feel that it is important ‘to promote diversity in every aspect of the student experience,’ ” she added.
Collins, who’s a senator with the university’s Student Government Association, said she was alarmed by the spokeswoman’s response.
While UNT has a majority-minority student body, so far, the university has no plans to take action against Kolsti. In a statement, officials argued that Kolsti expressed her views as a private citizen — not as a UNT employee.
“Honoring diversity is one of our most important values,” the school said. “…UNT also supports free expression from all its community members, including employees. Public employees generally retain the right to free speech.”
Students plan to host a town hall meeting Wednesday, Feb. 21, to discuss the matter.