Pepperdine community against the firing of Pepperdine Dean Pete Peterson

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President Gash, Provost Marrs, and Pepperdine University Leadership,

We are faculty, staff, students, alumni, and other friends of Pepperdine University who are deeply disappointed and horrified at the actions that some of our alumni have taken to demand the unjustified removal of Pete Peterson, Dean of the Pepperdine School of Public Policy. 

To be clear, we are in full support of the call for racial reconciliation, and we affirm both the moral and Christian case for condemning systematic racism and working together to recognize and eliminate both historic and existing remnants of racism in our country.

However, the 1619 Project does neither of these things. While we applaud the intentions behind the project, we are disappointed to find that the project's use of deceitful and misleading claims have actually contributed towards racism in our country by silencing the important and respectable voices of well-known Black professors and historians who have decried the project. To reiterate, America does have a history of racism that must be recognized and honestly discussed in schools and curriculum, but the 1619 Project is not the answer for this.

Turning to Dean Peterson's actions, we thus affirm that he is right to stand against the injustices of the 1619 Project by approving of the message sent in an October 12th email campaign. We recognize that the email campaign inappropriately used the Pepperdine logo, which is the fault of the senders behind the email campaign (not Dean Peterson's), and we support the Pepperdine University Diversity Council's call to end all relationships with these third party senders.

However, we stand firmly behind Dean Peterson's rebuke of the 1619 Project and vehemently condemn the actions of many of our alumni petitioning to force Pepperdine to fire Dean Peterson. Such a petition does not represent the view of all alumni (despite being worded as if that was the case), nor does it support efforts towards racial reconciliation. That petition represents the worst of today's cancel culture, ignores the facts of the case, and further silences the voices of Black colleagues who do not buy into the 1619 Project.

We call upon Pepperdine University Leadership to take the following actions:

1) Officially denounce the actions of the third party email campaign vendor in using the Pepperdine trademark without permission
2) Issue a statement in support of Dean Peterson's right to hold views contrary to the 1619 Project, recognizing the debate over the 1619 Project and the legitimate concerns over its accuracy
3) Officially denounce any attempts to participate in a "cancel culture" that silences minority viewpoints

Pepperdine University prides itself on being a inclusive place that allows for minority viewpoints and perspectives to flourish and welcomes respectful disagreement over important topics. The words and actions of our fellow alumni in calling for Dean Peterson's removal negates these values and threatens our University's reputation both in academia and as a place of faith. As a community, we stand together against the petition issued for Dean Peterson's removal and call for action from the University's leadership to defend both the freedom of speech and recognize the problems with the 1619 Project in propagating systematic racism in our country.


Note: We recognize that due to the prevalence of this cancel culture, many of our supporters are unable to publicly sign this petition for fear of retribution. We encourage you to either anonymously sign, share the petition with your community, and/or explore organizations like FIRE that exist to defend your freedom of speech.