Backlash after Virginia Wesleyan deletes comments from social media post on discrimination, prejudice

10 On Your Side

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The issue of race is bubbling up at Virginia Wesleyan University.

In the wake of the recent Black Lives Matter movement, the university posted on Facebook June 2 showing opposition to hate, prejudice, discrimination and violence.

Shortly after the post went up, staff began deleting comments by current African American students and alumni who were sharing their negative experiences with race while on campus.

“I will apologize on behalf of the institution for what was perceived in a negative way,” said Virginia Wesleyan President Dr. Scott Miller.

The comments just kept coming. Seeing what was taking place, Sydney Covey, who is part of the university’s Alumni Council, posted the school needed to do better. She tagged Miller.

“I was moved as a biracial member of the council to really speak about what had happened,” Covey said.

Covey was ultimately sent an email from the university telling her she was going to take a “pause” from the council. Her name was quickly taken off the website. It appeared to her as more of a removal.

“Being on the alumni council, I’m expected to act a certain way and talk a certain way,” Covey added. “I knew I was stepping out of that so I anticipated some kind of reaction.”

“That was difficult and that’s where I started to have some struggles with it all,” said Rob Kohler.

Kohler served as the council’s chairman. On Wednesday, he, along with the vice chair, resigned over the mix messages being sent by VWU.

“I think the university needs to read all those comments,” Kohler added. “175 comments and 62 shares and realize there might be something there that needs to be addressed.”

“I understand that, but I don’t fully agree with it,” Miller said.

Miller says his campus is always looking for new ways to promote diversity and inclusion. That includes financial support for underprivileged students, hiring a chief diversity officer and being the hub for Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities.

While Miller doesn’t think there is an issue of race, alumni aren’t so certain.

“I firmly believe that every single student that walks on this campus or any campus shouldn’t be faced with discrimination Black, white or indifferent,” Covey said.

There are no current plans to reinstate Covey back to the council, though she says she wouldn’t come back if it were offered. She is currently exploring her legal options against her former college.

Miller tells 10 On Your Side changes will be made when it comes to deleting comments off the Facebook page in the future.


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