[The following statement by Murphey was circulated by him to other members of the Wichita State University Faculty Senate on May 8, 2000.  It relates to his objection to the use of racial symbols at graduation and award ceremonies.]

 

To the Faculty Senate, Wichita State University, May 8, 2000: 

 

            The Wichita Eagle reported on Saturday that a “Students of Color graduation recognition and award ceremony” was held last week on the WSU campus and that students of four ethnic groups will wear stoles representing their ethnicity at the larger WSU graduation ceremonies later this week.  Hispanic students will wear stoles with the colors of the Mexican flag.

            I personally will refuse to take part in any ceremony in which articles of clothing or other insignias of race or ethnicity are worn.  And I would invite all members of the University community to ponder whether this sort of selective racism is consistent with sound principle or is in the best interests of the University and of the United States.

            We have developed a system of racism on behalf of selected minorities while insisting on color-blindness on the part of the rest of the population.

            This must be understood in the context of the United States’ immigration policy since 1965.  That policy is expected to result in making Americans of European origin a minority in this country by the year 2055.  That projection was celebrated by President Clinton in a recent speech.  In that context, selective racism on behalf of “people of color” must indeed be understood as racist, and not just as a benign exuberance on behalf of certain heritages.

              Even those who support the United States’ current immigration policy must ask themselves, as Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., did in his book The Disuniting of America, whether what we seek is an assimilation into a single culture or a Balkanization into many separate cultures.  If individuals begin to wear racial and ethnic insignias, we are going toward the Balkanization.

            Accordingly, I am withdrawing from participation in any graduation ceremony this week in which it is expected that such symbols will be displayed.

 

                                                                         Dwight Murphey

                                                                         Professor and member of Senate

 

[As it turned out, Murphey, as a member of the University’s Graduate Council, did feel obliged to participate in the graduate school’s ceremony, where to his dismay he found that the racial stoles were worn by several of the graduates.  He went ahead with his part in the “fitting of graduate hoods,” thinking his having circulated the above statement was enough and that sympathy toward his position would not be well served by his making a scene in the course of the ceremony.]