Winthrop Alumni Response to Investigation of Dr. April Mustain

Winthrop Alumni Response to Investigation of Dr. April Mustain

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Téa Franco started this petition to Winthrop University and

In the last few days, Winthrop University has indicated that it is conducting an internal investigation after a “particular employee” was subjected to an online harassment campaign that has placed our small university— that prides itself on inclusion and diversity— at the center of a broader culture war that has been playing out across the country in recent years.

On Monday night, Winthrop told its community that it wouldn’t be “swayed into hasty and inappropriate action” on the personnel matter at hand. In the following paragraph of its statement, Winthrop University immediately missed the mark and was swayed hastily into affirming support for law enforcement while simultaneously othering the Black and Brown students and allies that call and have called its campus home. 

As alumni of Winthrop University, we want to be clear: we assertively affirm that the Black and Brown lives of the students, alumni, faculty, and staff of Winthrop University matter—something that the statement hastily released by Winthrop University on Monday night failed to do. We affirm that we believe the professors that have helped generations of students develop critical thinking skills at the university should be free to voice their opinions about matters that affect the very lives of the students they’re teaching and talking about. 

Black and Brown students are an integral part of the Winthrop community and have been since 1964, when Cynthia Roddey, Delores Johnson Hurt, Arnetta Gladden Mackey, and Sue Frances Meriwether Steeds integrated the university’s campus. In a Charlotte Observer article about the 50th anniversary of the university being integrated, the women described the experience as being integrated but “isolated” from the rest of the student body. While the university has come far since the ‘60s and is generally an inclusive place for Black and Brown students to thrive; haphazard statements like the one the University released on Monday evening continue to make students feel isolated on a campus where they should feel welcomed.

We are disappointed that the university allowed this situation to fester on its public social media pages for days while people, many who are not affiliated with the university in any way, debated the humanity of Black students, characterized a movement to affirm that collective humanity as immoral, and pushed the university to start an investigation on a professor. 

In June, Winthrop University Interim President George Hynd said “the path forward is uncertain, but our shared values can and will help us move through this national crisis” in a letter about the current cultural moment to the Winthrop University community. Now, the university faces its first test on this path forward. We urge the university to remember these words and our shared values in its upcoming investigation and as these situations become more common as our country moves through its belated reckoning. 

We stand behind the professors and staff at Winthrop University who have used their voices in the middle of this critical moment in our country’s history. We believe that those professors shouldn’t be punished for lending their voices to movements for human rights. 

We strongly urge the university to stand behind its professors. We strongly urge the university to not bow to societal pressures and release statements that make an entire population of students and alumni feel othered on a campus that has shaped them. 

In solidarity with Dr. April Mustian, 

Téa A. Franco, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘20

Casey R. Smith, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘20

Lilian A. Barfield, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘20

Adarrell Gadsden, Winthrop University Alumnus‘16

Margaret L. Claytor, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘20

Theo Khaler, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘19

MJ Miller, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘17

Shelby Furr, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘17 

Samra Streeter, Winthrop University 

Michael Guidry, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘18

Jonathan McFadden, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘12

Sara Dixson, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘20

Stephanie Copeland, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘17

Samantha Cherry, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘17

Sandez Werts, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘18

Hannah Hundley, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘19

Rob Vereen, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘16

Danielle Lillely, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘17

Anastasia Montjoy, Winthrop University Alumna ‘14

Kate Golden, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘17

Michelle Perri, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘17

Isabella Rodriguez, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘20

Rahsaan “Saani” Perry, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘16

Zachary Christian, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘14

Emily Goodman, Winthrop University ‘16

Rhine Gourrier Kirkland, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘09, ‘11, ‘17

Elizabeth Durham, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘17

Cardio Mack, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘12, ‘17

Britney N. Zanders, Winthrop University Alumnus '07, '10

Adrienne Caldwell Cunningham, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘10, ‘12

Amanda Mings Gardner, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘04

Leslie Brown, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘15

Katrina Beaty Clavon, Winthrop University Alumnus, ‘08

Erin Streetman, Winthrop University Alumnus ‘20

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