The Down Right Horrible

Letter: Stockton University Director Calls Non-Black Greek Students Racists

On June 24th, 2020, Joseph Thompson, the Assistant Director of Student Development at Stockton University in Galloway, NJ sent an email out to all students that are part of Fraternity and Sorority Life at Stockton University. Within the email he voiced his opinion on everything going on in the country. He talked about how we are very separated and that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) are at a disadvantage and that we should all come together for change.

To start, he said we should petition to change the name of the University. You see, Richard Stockton, who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence (who later recanted his signature, but that’s a story for a different time) was a slave owner. “Most of us can never understand what it means to wake up everyday and go to classes on a campus named after a man who didn’t view us as human,” Thompson says. In 2017, there was controversy about a bust of Stockton in the library that is now removed for the same reason. 12 out of 45 presidents were slave owners. I am not saying that is a good thing or something to be proud of, but should we erase them from history too? Should we not care about everything else they did?

Thompson then goes on about how we need to hire more BIPOC staff and faculty. We should hire people based off of the color of their skin? Isn’t that racist? People should be hired based off of their education and experience, not the color of their skin. The icing on the cake was the end of the email, “Lastly, this is directly toward our members who are not Black or People of Color—stop being racist.” This makes me sick to my stomach. Someone who is supposed to be a “leader” and someone we “look up to” in higher education, calling out every single non-colored member of the Greek community and calling all of them racists. This is sickening. This email is racist in itself. It is one thing to send out an email saying that Stockton and Student Development do not stand for or condone racism. But, to send a mass email out under your school email as staff of the school and accusing every single person that is not a person of color a racist is unprofessional, distasteful, and heart breaking.

Thompson should be fired or resign because of this. I thought I made the right choice choosing Stockton for higher education but now I do not feel welcomed anymore because I am judged based off the color of my skin….

**The story photo is of Joesph Thompson taken from his instagram @jbthompsonpmd**

***Below is the transcript of the email***

SUBJECT: A CALL TO ACTION

Good Afternoon All,

This message is going out to all members of our fraternity and sorority community, including those who just graduated—I included you because I think alumni need to hear this as well. You have great influence on your undergraduate members and I just also want you to hear this.

I write to you today for multiple reasons. First and foremost, I am sorry for not writing sooner. I struggled to say anything of meaning without coming off as some social justice warrior white savior. Some of you may think that about me already as I wear my heart on my sleeve. I have been thinking about all the reactions and social media posts going out from schools and organizations and companies and thought about doing one for Fraternity & Sorority Life, but did not want it to come off as obligatory or opportunistic. While you have known me I have always been a champion for our underrepresented communities, but I was not always that way. I grew into that person, but that is not to say I am not still growing. To be honest I am not sure I have always supported our communities in the best way. I want to think I have done my best for our NPHC and UCGC organizations, and our BIPOC students in IFC and NPC organizations, but in my heart I know I am still learning and can always do better. I have spent a lot of time over the past six weeks reading and listening, attending protests and vigils, talking to my Black friends and colleagues, even former students. I want to do better. I can do better. That is why I am making a personal commitment to do so, and I will be using my voice and influence at Stockton to do so.

I challenge all of you to do the same. Support and demand a name change to our University. Richard Stockton may have been a signer of the Declaration of Independence, but he also was a slave owner. Most of us can never understand what it means to wake up everyday and go to classes on a campus named after a man who didn’t view us as human. Support and demand the creation on office and staff at the University that focuses on social justice, anti-racism, and multiculturalism. We are the only major college in the state without one. How can we tell BIPOC students they are a priority when we put little resources into supporting them? Or teaching students social justice and antiracism when clearly a lot of our students need a lot of education in this area. This work is all of our jobs, but the impact has to match the intent, and it is just not enough. Support and demand the hiring of more faculty and staff of color. Representation matters. It makes our University a very white space. New Jersey is the most diverse state in the U.S. Our University would make you think otherwise. The very little staff and faculty of color carry an invisible workload of supporting and mentoring students of color. They are not paid more for this work. As a white man, I do not carry this workload. This is unjust. Your voices matter. Be loud. Be heard. Do not let this be the responsibility of our BIPOC students. This is all of our responsibility. Let’s scream until our throats hurt. How many of our organization’s values or rituals speak of justice? If so, how have you earned your letters today?

Lastly, this is directly toward our members who are not Black or People of Color—stop being racist. Again, I take this as my own fault for not opening my eyes more, but after reading so many of the posts on Instagram this week by @blackatstockton, I am going to throw up. Seriously. Obviously, this includes all Stockton students, and not just members of the Greek community, but we need to do better. I spoke to several Black alumni (IFC, UCGC, NPHC, and NPC) who all shared events with me that occurred while they were undergraduates in our community—from racist “jokes” to confederate flags hanging in a fraternity house, to sing a longs at fraternity parties where songs used “the word” and no one batted an eye. Really? REALLY??? If you think I am calling you out, I AM. When this happens in our organizations, how are we not holding people accountable? If we having mixers with other orgs where this is an issue, WHY??? That’s called being complicit. How are we not kicking people of our chapters when they do these things? I don’t care how many social media posts you make about Black Lives Matter or how many protests you have participated in the past month if your chapter is actively allowing this garbage to happen. You are gaslighting folks. You are lying. You are actively contributing to white supremacy in our society, at Stockton, and in the fraternity and sorority community by not taking action. DO BETTER. I know many of us did not join our organizations because of their values, but you did join a values-based organization…and how we act and what we do or don’t do shows others what those values truly are. Heck, some of our organizations were founded by slave owning racists. Own it.

This is not just an anti-racist rant. This is a call to action.

I will be focusing a lot of my energy moving forward in finding ways to help our community get educated and take action. In the meantime, I hope and suggest we call take time to reflect and educate ourselves.

Black Lives Matter.

Fraternally,

Joe Thompson
Assistant Director of Student Development
Stockton University
101 Vera King Farris Drive
Galloway, NJ 08205-9441
(609) 652-4211 | Joseph.Thompson@stockton.edu
www.stockton.edu
He/Him/His
BLACK LIVES MATTER

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