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Jefferson Has Gotta Go: Statement on Ed Rollins

As of May 30, the date on which President Rabinowitz released a statement informing the Hofstra community that the Thomas Jefferson statue will not be relocated, JGG!’s platform has been as follows:

1. We demand the establishment of an online system of reporting bias, discrimination and harassment.

2. We demand the implementation of a complaint receipt program and semesterly briefings regarding reports of bias and discrimination on campus. 

3. We demand the relocation of the statue of Thomas Jefferson to the Hofstra University Museum. 

4. This campaign also believes that all Hofstra University faculty and staff should be required to undergo intensive cultural competency training. 

In July, JGG! met with Dean of Students Sofia Pertuz and Associate Director of Intercultural Engagement & Inclusion (IEI) Gillian Atkinson. Though Pertuz and Atkinson were not at liberty to discuss our third demand, we did discuss our first and second demands. 

The organizing team explained that since June, Hofstra University students had taken to Twitter to recount incidents of harassment and discrimination that had gone unaddressed either because the victim was too fearful of reporting or because the University never took action upon receipt of these reports. 

Using #BigotryAtHofstra, students described incidents of racial profiling, intentional misgendering and dead-naming, sexual harassment and abuse of neurodivergent and disabled students. 

There were even reports of professors using racial slurs, including “n*gger,” in the classroom.

At the end of this meeting, Pertuz and Atkinson expressed interest in further discussing our plans for an online incident reporting system and complaint receipt program. We are in the process of scheduling a follow-up meeting.

As JGG! progresses, we are continuously told, “change happens slowly.” Change does happen slowly. We never expected to wake up one day with these initiatives implemented. 

However, we did expect there to be a sense of urgency extending beyond the student body and beyond the few faculty members actively promoting inclusivity and social justice in their work.

Unfortunately, that has not been the reality. 

As a result, JGG! is doing what Hofstra University refuses to do to provide departments such as IEI and the Center for “Race,” Culture and Social Justice the resources to do.

We have started building a small-scale online incident reporting system using Google Forms. 

This system was born after Senior Fellow of the Kalikow Center for the Study of the Ameican Presidency Edward J. Rollins made a series of abhorrent comments on Lou Dobbs Tonight and to The Daily Beast.

On Sept. 13, Rollins responded to Lou Dobbs’ claims that Puerto Rico’s death toll numbers are fudged with, “...Democrats are playing to Puerto Ricans who have moved to this country, moved to Florida, politics, and they’re not for us anyways ... at the end of the day, the President is accurate.”

In an article published on Sept. 16 by The Daily Beast, Rollins says of the sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, “[Kavanaugh] is eminently qualified! They need to get him confirmed now ... If this is the new standard, no one will ever want or be able to serve in government or on the judiciary.”

Horrified at these comments and distrusting of Hofstra University’s current processes of reporting complaints, students looked to us.

Overnight, JGG! developed a petition calling for the firing of Rollins on Google Forms. 

This form includes two questions. First, “Do you agree that Rollins’ comments ... are grounds for termination?”

Second, “If Hofstra University does not terminate or discipline Rollins, would you be comfortable if he was still permitted to teach academic courses, sit on panels organized by and hosted at the university, etc.?” 

This form is only accessible to current Hofstra University students with a Hofstra email address. 

We have collected each respondent’s email address so that we may verify their status as a Hofstra student.

In the coming days, JGG! will file this petition as a mass complaint against Rollins to the Center for the Study of the American Presidency, Title IX, the Provost’s Office and to Human Resources. 

As long as students are too fearful of retaliation to report and single complaints are regarded as too insignificant for University intervention, we need an online alternative and the masses must force University action.

Jefferson Has Gotta Go! is a student activist-run campaign that aims to address issues of bigotry at Hofstra. 

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