Posted on June 11, 2019

After Defending Punishment of Librarian for Blackface Exhibit, University Claims It Can’t Talk

Greg Piper, College Fix, June 10, 2019


In her two-century exhibit on “Parties from the Past,” [Melissa] Gomis included two photos of Doane students in blackface at official campus functions in the 1920s. While she removed the photos voluntarily after a student complained, several days later Provost Paul Savory ordered the entire display removed.

The same day, the university put Gomis on administrative leave, and she was escorted off campus. She was investigated for “discriminatory harassment” but soon cleared.

The administration gave extensive justifications for its actions to the media, as FIRE notes in a Monday blog post on the university’s curt response to its concerns:

During the investigation, Doane President Jacque Carter sent a campus-wide email discussing the matter in detail, and Doane administrators commented extensively to both the Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha World-Herald about the university’s position that the display lacked “appropriate educational context.”

The law firm’s response ignored the university’s past practice of speaking freely on the controversy. Cline Williams simply said: “This correspondence is to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated May 17, 2019. Doane University does not and will not comment on internal employee issues.”

FIRE and NCAC had not asked the university for any information about Gomis, however. They simply called on Doane to “rescind any punishment related to this matter and clarify its commitment to academic and expressive freedom” – a policy conversation that does not require discussion of employee issues.

Doane didn’t even respond to their offer to send administrators a physical copy of NCAC’s guidelines for curating “sensitive” content, Smart Tactics. {snip}