University Fosters 'Hostile Environment' Toward White Men

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

( - Comments by the vice president of university relations at the University of Iowa that white men are "the root of most evil" reflect an ingrained "hostile environment" toward white men and European-oriented culture on campus, a California-based civil rights group has alleged.

Two incidents of allegedly racially motivated hate crimes against African-American students in April prompted comments from Ann Rhodes, vice president of university relations, who said, "I figured it was going to be a white guy between 25 and 55 because they're the root of most evil."

Police arrested a black female student at the university's college of dentistry in connection with the incidents.

In an apology, Rhodes said her remark was "a poor attempt at humor." In an interview with in April, she said: "I feel so horrible about this and I apologized as quickly as I could and I've been apologizing ever since. This is the worst thing I've ever said."

But Rhodes' remark reflects racial stereotyping of white people as oppressors of minorities that is "internalized" at the university, said Louis Calabro, president of the European-American Issues Forum, a California-based civil rights group. Calabro has filed an official complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's office of civil rights about the incident.

In reviewing the university's student resources facilities, including the Affirmative Action web site, Calabro said he found some policies that portray "white men" as the purveyors of racial animus and the perpetrators of hate crimes.

Calabro objected to the university's distribution of a video called "The Shadow of Hate," which is a companion to a book called "Teaching Tolerance" by Sara Bullard.

"Both the video and book portray 'white men' as the purveyors of racial animus and the perpetrators of hate crimes and all other racial and ethnic groups as their victims. The book and video contribute to an atmosphere of a 'hostile environment' toward 'white men' on campus," Calabro said.

Another video, "The Color of Fear," grossly misrepresented race relations, Calabro said.

"I have personally spoken with the 'white man' who was portrayed in the video. He was humiliated in what can only be called a psychological gang bang by seven minority participants and a 'white man' who sought to depict him as bigoted simply because of his race."

In a state that has 3 percent minorities, 15 to 18 percent of the medical and dental schools at the university are made up of minority students, Calabro said. "At the very least, this can be called 'disparate impact' which, under EEOC guidelines, is unfair. That's a red flag."

According to Calabro, there has been an increase in racial stereotyping of whites as oppressors of minorities in university curricula in recent years, which he said should not be financed by taxpayers.

Steve Parrott, interim director of university relations, said the university has "not had any official word from the Department of Education about these complaints, so we will have to decline to comment." However, he rejected the allegation that the university fosters a hostile environment toward white people.

According to University of Iowa figures provided by Parrott, 93 percent of its faculty and staff are white people. Of 13,182 persons employed by the university, 8,060 are female and 5,122 are male. Of the 5,122 males, 4,636 are white; of the 8,060 female employees, 7,633 are white.