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President of Emory University James W. Wagner has received untold criticism for a column in Emory magazine citing the three-fifths compromise in the U.S. Constitution as a positive example of opposing sides reaching successful compromise.
Wagner has answered the public outcry apologetically, referring to his actions as clumsy and regrettable, the New York Times reported. In response to reader criticism, he sent in clarification of his earlier column to the magazine, in which he states “Certainly, I do not consider slavery anything but heinous, repulsive, repugnant, and inhuman.”
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution following the column’s publication, faculty members censured Wagner, going almost so far as to propose a vote of no confidence, which would be the first step in the process of removing him from the presidency.
Students too were highly offended by Wagner’s remarks. Last Friday, at the reception for a campus exhibition ironically titled “And the Struggle Continues: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Fight for Social Change,” about 45 students showed up to protest, waving signs that said, “This is 5/5 outrageous,” and “Shame on James.” Others marched silently through campus.
This unfortunate incident comes in the wake of a very difficult year for the university, not to mention several occurrences of racial insensitive. In one case a fraternity flew a confederate flag and in another an anthropology professor used a racial slur in class.
“We’ve had several wounds this year,” said Wagner. “This one [the magazine column] is a particularly painful wound for me because it was self-inflicted.”