The Purdue University Northwest faculty senate has requested the resignation of Chancellor Thomas L. Keon for a racist joke made at a recent commencement ceremony.
All eight faculty members of the senate’s executive committee signed an open letter
sent to Keon on Dec. 17 demanding he “immediately resign as Chancellor.”
The letter stated that Keon’s inappropriate conduct “caused national and international outrage” and “does not reflect the diversity and inclusiveness that Purdue faculty, staff, and
The demand for Keon’s resignation stems from an incident that occurred during a Dec. 10 commencement ceremony, in which the chancellor spoke gibberish and called it an “Asian version” of a previous speaker’s made-up language.
A video of the inane gaffe quickly went viral, prompting an official apology
from Keon on Dec. 14:
On Saturday, December 10, during one of our two PNW Commencement ceremonies, I made a comment that was offensive and insensitive. I am truly sorry for my unplanned, off-the-cuff response to another speaker, as my words have caused confusion, pain, and anger… We are all human. I made a mistake, and I assure you I did not intend to be hurtful and my comments do not reflect my personal or our institutional values.
Keon’s statement further includes a summarization of steps the university has taken to improve campus diversity.
However, his apology was met with further backlash and resignation demands from netizens who felt his words were insufficient.
According to WBAA
, Thomas Roach, chair of the faculty senate, criticized both Keon’s apology and the school’s Board of Trustees for accepting it:
The fact they [the Board of Trustees] accepted the apology is almost as bad as what he said in the first place. The Asian community has been saying for years that they are being discriminated against, and they’ve also been saying everybody tolerates descrimination against Asian Americans. Here we have this discriminatory remark and the Board of Trustees saying ‘no big deal.’”
A Change.org petition
by students also demanding the chancellor’s resignation has reached 4,991 signatures at the time of this writing.
A full video of the commencement currently available
on Purdue Northwest’s YouTube channel still includes a clip of Keon’s offensive remarks.
Keon has yet to respond to the faculty senate’s demand.