By Martin Loftin
Fisticuffs broke out at the end of a tension filled press conference between the university president and the student who led the movement that sought his resignation.
The president of Debra Stephens University announced his resignation on Saturday morning, effective November 27, in response to growing protests from students due to racial problems on campus.
President Jayre McClellan got into a scuffle with Parker Westin, president of Concerned Student 1738, a student advocacy group that called for McClellan’s resignation for his involvement in a house party that they found racist.
Booker T. Crenshaw, the communications director of the university, was saying his closing statements when the two began pushing and grabbing each other.
“That’s assault,” Westin said.
“I’ll show you assault!” said McClellan. “I’m gonna get that ass!”
Crenshaw and Jym Jahnson, head coach of the football team, pulled the two apart and the conference came to a close.
Although McClellan has resigned, Westin said that this is only the start.
McClellan said that this was the worst day of his life and that he wished he had never set foot on campus, Westin said that this made it the best day of his life.
Now that McClellan would be gone, Westin said that now things would really start to change.
The fraternity Beta Gamma Alpha held a “Pimps and Hoes” party that included guests in racist costumes and blackface. Students claimed they saw a noose hung outside the house.
“I don’t see what the big deal was,” said McClellan. “It was just a party.”
Westin and two other students demanded the resignation of the president for letting this event to take place and attending it in person, but also allowing a racist atmosphere to exist at the school at all. Since Westin and Concerned Student 1738 began protesting for McClellan’s resignation the group has grown to over forty members.
Concerned Student 1738 participated in a hunger strike, a sit in and convinced the school football team to boycott their next game all in an effort to oust McClellan.
Jahnson said that he fully supports the decisions of his athletes.
McClellan said this boycott would have lost the school million, to which Jahnson replied, “When you stand by your principles you can’t be bought.”
Cortez Jackson, a first year sociology major, shared his experience with racism on campus. Jackson said that students were racially insensitive and random people would come up to him and try to touch his hair.
“All that matters is money, power and respect, young man,” McClellan said. Throughout the conference, the former president would interrupt speakers with hostile comments, and eventually individuals from the crowd began to chant and shout out McClellan.
“Hey hey! Ho ho! [McClellan] has got to go!” the two protestors sang.
“I want to help the school to heal and move on,” said McClellan, but his lingering anger over the situation was apparent during the conference.
The school has said that it plans to hire a president that will represent their diverse students equally.