Despite Failure to Deal With Racism, South Carolina Technical College Officials Won’t Fire President
Greenville Technical College officials say they have no plans to fire the school’s president, despite claims by three organizations that Tom Barton has failed to deal with racism on campus.
Sam Clayton, chairman of the Greenville Tech area commission, said last week the school has contracted with an independent consultant to address differences on campus, but that he thinks “accusations of racial discrimination are unfounded.”
Clayton asked if any faculty, staff or students had personal incidents of racial discrimination at the school that they address the concerns to him in writing.
“I will assure that it will be investigated,” Clayton said in a statement. “I will also assure them that the board will protect them from retribution from the staff or administration of the college.”
At least one former faculty member has claimed that her effort to maintain a part-time teaching position after she resigned her full-time job was rejected as retaliation for her starting a faculty association for minorities.
Barton, who refused to comment, denied those allegations. “The lady walked in and resigned on her own, now they’re hollering retaliation,” said Barton, who has been the college’s only president since it was built in 1962.
After a closed-door meeting last week, the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Concerned Citizens for Equal Justice and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement for Self-Determination called for Barton’s resignation.
The groups say the racial problems on campus were highlighted this fall when a former associate vice president resigned under pressure after referring to Hurricane Katrina evacuees as “yard apes.” Renee Holcombe said she didn’t mean the term as a racial slur and is suing to get her job back.
Greenville NAACP president Paul Guy said the moves announced by Clayton last week are insufficient and his group will discuss possible protests or legal action against the school.
— Associated Press
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