Texas State president says student's opinion column calling for 'white death' is racist

Campus paper apologizes; Students divided on intent of opinion piece

Courtesy Andrew Homann

SAN MARCOS – The Texas State University campus newspaper, The University Star, issued an apology on Wednesday after it published an opinion column titled, "Your DNA is an abomination" which called for the death of "whiteness."

The university's president, Denise Trauth also issued a statement on the opinion piece calling it "racist."

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"The column’s central theme was abhorrent and is contrary to the core values of inclusion and unity that our Bobcat students, faculty  and staff hold dear," Trauth said. "As president of a university that celebrates its inclusive culture, I detest racism in any manifestation."

Read the full statement:

Dear Bobcat Community,
I am deeply troubled by the racist opinion column that was published in the November 28, 2017, issue of the University Star titled “Your DNA is an abomination.” The column’s central theme was abhorrent and is contrary to the core values of inclusion and unity that our Bobcat students, faculty, and staff hold dear. As president of a university that celebrates its inclusive culture, I detest racism in any manifestation.
While I appreciate that the Star is a forum for students to freely express their opinions, I expect student editors to exercise good judgment in determining the content that they print. The Star’s editors have apologized for the column and are examining their editorial process.

The University Star's apology said, in part, that the column received "widespread criticism from readers, with many expressing that they find the author's ideas to be racist."

Read the full statement:

In the Nov. 28 issue of The University Star, we published an opinions column titled “Your DNA is an abomination.” The column has received widespread criticism from readers, with many expressing that they find the author’s ideas to be racist. The University Star’s opinion pages are a forum for students to express and debate ideas. While our publication does not endorse every opinion put forth by student columnists or guest contributors, as the editor I take responsibility for what is printed on our pages.

The original intent of the column was to comment on the idea of race and racial identities. We acknowledge that the column could have been clearer in its message and that it has caused hurt within our campus community. We apologize and hope that we can move forward to a place of productive dialogue on ways to bring our community together.

The editor said the author of the column, Rudy Martinez, intended on commenting on the "idea of race and racial identities."

Martinez argued that "white death will mean liberation for all," and that those who identify as white should "accept this death as the first step toward defining (themselves) as something other than the oppressor."

"When I think of all the white people I have ever encountered-whether they've been professors, peers, lovers, friends, police officers, et cetera- there are perhaps a dozen I would consider 'decent,'" Martinez wrote.

The opinion column was not made available online, however, students took photos of the printed column and posted them on social media. Several expressed outrage at the column.

"I’d be deeply offended if a white individual wrote this piece about a black individual; I’d be offended if someone who was Hispanic wrote this about someone who is Indian," Texas State student Rachel Rood wrote. "Racism is described as discrimination or prejudice towards another race. I think this can be classified as racism, as are many terrible things. Sadly, racism is still a problem in our society and our university. But racism is discrimination against any race."

Connor Clegg, president of the student body, also chimed in stating that "this poor excuse for journalism is no accurate representation of this university." 

Other students defended the column.

"Everyone getting mad, please reread the article and realize that the author is not being racist," Sophie Taylor tweeted. "He is pointing out that white people are given privilege from birth because we are perceived as white."

Martinez also defended his piece in an article on the website the College Fix.

“The article speaks for itself…Though my language, especially when I claim to have only ever met ‘12 decent white people,’ could be deemed as hyperbolic (just barely), it has accomplished its goal: starting a conversation and outing racists," Martinez said.

Laura Krantz, the publication's faculty adviser, said that she does not review content prior to publication unless she is asked to do so by the student staff.

"Public university student newspapers are protected by the First Amendment, which means that student editors have complete editorial control over what they choose to publish without government interference," Krantz said via email.

Krantz said her code of ethics prevents her from interfering with the content of the newspaper or requiring prior review.

"As their adviser, I met with the students (Tuesday) morning to discuss the column and its intent," Krantz wrote. "We also discussed the mission and obligations of a student newspaper and how the opinions it chooses to publish can hurt that mission and damage that obligation."

In recent months, students found fliers and banners promoting white supremacy displayed throughout the campus. The banners were immediately taken down after they were reported to authorities.