Friday, May 04, 2001

NKU prof apologizes for remarks

By Karen Samples
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HIGHLAND HEIGHTS — A Northern Kentucky University professor has apologized for the tone, tenor and impression left by his recent remarks about violence against a police officer, and any further fallout will be dealt with internally, NKU President James Votruba announced on Thursday.

        Dr. Votruba said he had received more than 400 e-mails about the comments by associate professor Clinton Hewan — e-mails ranging from “thoughtful and eloquent to virulent and hateful.” The responses suggest that “until we as a community address with courage our unresolved issues around race, we will continue to see these issues inflame and divide our people and threaten our future,” Dr. Votruba wrote.

        At a public forum on race last month, Dr. Hewan, a tenured political-science professor, commented on the shooting death of Timothy Thomas, a black teen-ager, at the hands of a white police officer in Cincinnati.

        NKU's campus newspaper, The Northerner, quoted Dr. Hewan as saying that Mr. Thomas' family should “quietly stalk that S.O.B and take him out.”

        The quote was taken out of context, Dr. Hewan said. He was not advocating such violence, only saying that it can occur when oppressed minorities think they have no other recourse. He wanted people to think about how society would react, he said.

        Dr. Votruba said he had talked to both Dr. Hewan and others at the forum. Without saying whose account he believed, he said he understood Dr. Hewan's point and likened it to sentiments expressed by Frederick Douglass, the African-American abolitionist.

        Nevertheless, “Professor Hewan's choice of words to dramatize his point caused the point to be lost entirely,” Dr. Votruba wrote.

        With Dr. Hewan's apology this week, Dr. Votruba indicated that he considers the matter closed.


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