Could LSU lose state funding over controversial “White Rage” book discussion?

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BATON ROUGE , La (BRPROUD)- Tuesday, LSU hosted an online discussion called “At the Intersection of Race and Religion” in which various authors discussed their newly penned book, “The Religion of White Rage”.

“Apparently, now that it’s receiving media attention, I’m receiving a lot more input, and questions from people about what’s going on at LSU,” Representative Ray Garofalo, (R) Chalmette, told “This Week in Louisiana Politics”.

Rep. Ray Garofalo (R)

As chairman of the House Education Committee the lawmaker oversees many aspects of education in the state, including funding, and hints at a possible reduction of state funds for LSU.

“So, we’re looking at how the funding is operating in other areas, the legislature may have to address inequities in education, if they’re not presenting a balanced approach,” said Garofalo.

During the online discussion one of the authors of the book, Dr. Biko Mandela Gray asked, “Why would there be concerns about a talk about anti-blackness and racism?”

We asked Garofalo the same question. “Well, being a free speech advocate myself, there’s nothing wrong with it at all”, Garofalo responded. But he said he still has concerns.

LSU’s news release announcing the discussion quotes another participant in the discussion, Dr. Stephen C. Finley, LSU’s Associate Professor of Religious Studies and African and African American Studies. “Religion is a source of connection and community for many Americans; however, it is also the primary motivating factor for the rise of white rage and white supremacist sentiment in the United States. The Capitol insurrection is the latest example of this. In this episode, we will hone in on this relationship between white apprehension, race and religion, and their subsequent effects on communities of color and the struggle for equality,” Finley said in the release. 

Rep. Garofalo wrote to LSU’s Board of Supervisors asking several pointed questions about the discussion.

He asked if the discussion was presented to students in a fair way, and if those with opposing views were invited as well.

“When students are only getting one viewpoint, they’re basically being indoctrinated,” said Garofalo.

The lawmaker also asked about the title of the episode, “Racism: Dismantling the System.” “What system are the advocates suggesting be dismantled,” he asked.

Co-author Lori Martin believes Garofalo is judging the book by its cover.

When we asked LSU for a response to Garofalo’s concerns we were given this statement by Interim President Tom Galligan: “LSU hosts many discussions on various topics. The topics cover a wide variety of subjects and cross the entire political spectrum, and none represent an official view or statement from the university. The overarching goal is to inform and educate students, expose them to new ideas, and teach them critical-thinking skills.”

“I do intend to sit down with both the Board of Supervisors and LSU, and Professor Galligan to follow up on this,” said Garofalo.

He’s still waiting on more specifics, but if the chairman of the House Education Committee is not satisfied with those answers, he appears to be prepared to not only reimagine LSU’s funding, but to also introduce legislation that could give the state more control over college curriculum. 

“I think that the legislature is going to have to step in,” said Garofalo

To see the entire interview with Rep. Ray Garofalo, watch “This Week in Louisiana Politics” this Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on Your Local Election Headquarters.

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