The president of George Washington University apologized in a statement on Sunday for his “racially insensitive” remarks that were captured in a video.
University President Thomas LeBlanc was approached by a female student while he was walking on the street on Saturday. The student asked LeBlanc some questions as she recorded the conversation on her cell phone’s camera.
When she gets to a question about the university’s fossil fuel investments, LeBlanc gives an unusual example, sparking public backlash with the surfacing of the video on Facebook.
“So, what if the majority of students were to agree?” she asks regarding the idea of shutting down the university’s Regulatory Studies Center that receives funding from a number of donors including ExxonMobil.
In response, LeBlanc says “Doesn’t matter. What if the majority of students agreed to shoot all the black people here? Do I say, ‘Oh, well, the majority voted?’ No.”
“In this country, we have rights. And one of the rights is free speech and academic freedom,” he continues.
It is not known if LeBlanc was aware that he was being filmed as his face is not seen in the video. However, a spokesperson for the university stated he was not.
The Student Association’s Black Senators’ Caucus condemned LeBlanc’s analogy in a statement, regarding it as “racially insensitive” and “thoughtless.”
It was followed by LeBlanc’s apology, where he said:
“Yesterday, in a conversation with a student, I attempted to emphasize a point and used an insensitive example that I realize could be hurtful to members of our community. I deeply apologize for using that example. The point I was making—that majority rule should never suppress the human rights of others—was obscured by the example I used. I regret my choice of words and any harm I unintentionally inflicted on a community I value greatly.”