Louisville President Increasing Security After Klan Activity on Campus
University of Louisville President James Ramsey told a closed-door campus meeting earlier this month about efforts to increase safety in the wake of Ku Klux Klan flier distributions.
While Ramsey admitted he does not want the Klan on campus, he said his understanding of the U.S. Constitution and court rulings prevents him from barring the group altogether.
“I am one of the people who does not want the Klan on campus,” Ramsey said in an official statement. “I feel very strongly about this. They promote hate and separation; they have a terrible history that inspires fear, and they go against my personal values as well as those of this institution.”
But the university has the right to determine when and where the Klan can distribute literature, Ramsey said.
“We are not welcoming this group to campus,” he said, adding that the university has denied requests for paid speeches.
Student groups had called on Ramsey to ban the Klan from campus and to sever the university’s broadcasting contract with WHAS-AM. Student critics say a WHAS talk-show host helped lay the groundwork for the Klan’s presence on campus by comparing the racial views of African American rapper Sister Souljah to the Klan’s.
Souljah gave a diversity lecture on campus, and a Klan group has demanded that the university allow its leader to speak to students and get paid the same amount as Souljah, $11,000.
The WHAS talk-show host in question, Francene Cucinello, has said her comparison between Souljah and the Klan was a fair one.
“I said hate speech is hate speech,” she said.
Ramsey said earlier this month that he and the provost would meet with WHAS representatives about the station’s future relationship with the university.
“This is because many believe, and I agree, that it has contributed to campus tensions by misrepresenting our intentions and distorting facts,” he said. “Our first step is to work to see if we can repair this relationship (and) hold the station accountable for accuracy.”
Furthermore, Ramsey outlined increased security efforts, including: additional public safety personnel, promotion of the 24-hour escort service, creation of a telephone line for reporting hate incidents and installation of video cameras in marked campus police vehicles. Ramsey has also instructed the Department of Public Safety to provide updates on investigations of hate incidents to campus groups upon request.
Ramsey promised a series of future programs and meetings to encourage diversity and unity.
— Associated Press
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