ROCK HILL, S.C.
The student who wrote a controversial column about race for Winthrop University’s student newspaper has left the school.
Christine Byington, 20, said last week she filed paperwork to leave after considering her options at her family’s Greenville home.
She told The (Rock Hill) Herald by phone that her leaving “had more to do with how my whole semester was going” than the severe reaction to her column published recently in The Johnsonian, the student-led weekly newspaper.
In that column, Byington, who is biracial, criticized minority scholarships and organizations devoted to Blacks. She said equal treatment should be given to all races.
The university, which held a forum so students could discuss the column, urged Byington to reconsider her decision.
“Winthrop University is strongly committed to being a campus where troubling issues can be discussed openly from all perspectives,” the school said in a statement. “We hope Ms. Byington will reconsider and rejoin this community and that conversation.”
Johnsonian editor-in-chief Rebekah Woodson said Byington will be missed.
“I admire her on a peer level,” Woodson said. “She’s an extremely intelligent woman. … I hurt for her, from one student to another. If I were her, I would question going to school here as well.”
Byington said she might come back to Winthrop next semester or next year. She said she had a tough class schedule this semester and the demands of the newspaper and two campus organizations had been distracting.
“Then this happened with the column, and I couldn’t handle it anymore,” Byington said. “I couldn’t focus at all.”
Senior Christina Alexander said she disagreed with Byington’s column, but respected her for writing it.
“I still admire Christine for what she did,” she said. “I just wish she’d employ some of that same courage by staying on campus.”
— Associated Press
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