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Albany State’s plan to honor expelled students hits snag

ALBANY, Ga. — Albany State University’s plan to award honorary degrees to 38 former students who were expelled from the school in 1961 during the beginning days of the Albany Movement hit a snag on Tuesday.

Forty students were expelled from ASU after taking part in protests and civil rights marches. The school located 38 of the students, 13 of whom had passed away.

According to ASU Student Government Association President Clarence Washington, the school was to seek approval next week during the Georgia Board of Regents’ meeting in Atlanta. But Washington said he learned Tuesday that the group had been removed from the Regents’ agenda.

“We just learned yesterday that we had been removed from the Board of Regents agenda, and we still have no explanation as to why,” Washington said. “We wanted to ask the board for consideration of honorary degrees for the students who were expelled for taking part in civil rights demonstrations.

“This is a major event for the University’s ‘Justice Delayed is Justice Denied' celebration.”

Regents spokesman John Millsaps acknowledged that the ASU request was on the agenda but then removed after several questions were raised about the honorary degrees.

“The Board of Regents has a policy in place in regard to the awarding of honorary degrees,” Millsaps said. “There are two problems with their request.”

Specifically, Millsaps pointed to section 3.8.4 in the Board of Regents’ Policy Manual regarding honorary degrees. That section reads: “Relatively few awards should be given. ... The recipient must be present to receive the degree.”

“In my 16 years at the Board of Regents, I have never seen a request for this many honorary degrees at one time,” Millsaps said. “I can’t give you a timeline, but I will say their request is still under review at this time.”

Another problem is that Albany State is now in a time crunch because it cannot confer the honorary degrees, which were planned as part of the university’s 50th anniversary of the Albany Movement celebrations, without the Regents’ approval.

Washington said that efforts are under way to get back on the Regents’ agenda, adding a protest/rally would be held at 11:15 this morning at ASU’s new student center amphitheater.

Comments

TrixibelleBento 3 years ago

Does an honorary degree allow that person to apply for jobs with that degree or does the degree actually have honorary written on it? If the degree looks just like mine, then I don't agree with the request. That would be an insult to those graduates who actually struggled to graduate and did the work. Honor them, but don't give them the same privilege as those who "legally" graduated.

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Cartman 3 years ago

It would have "Honorary" on the degree. However, I believe the Board of Regents policy in limiting the number and requiring attendance to receive it; is consistent with preserving the integrity of an Honorary degree. It attempts to keep it from being diluted. It makes it less unique if 38 degrees are given out in mass. Not a criticism; just offered as a logical explanation for the BOR policy.

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Albanite 3 years ago

The protesters knew and understood the consequences. It is unfair to give them the same treatment as those who stayed in class, studied and earned their degrees!

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FlunkyMonkey 3 years ago

These men and women gave up their hopes, dreams and educations to make life better for those that came after them. Even though I was a child, I remember the days when the Civil Rights marchers were arrested, beaten, had to drink at this fountain or use that bathroom because of their skin color. Yes, they knew the consequences of their actions, but 40 men and women wanted a better world for their children and grandchildren. Consider the alternative, would you rather still be living under the Jim Crowe Laws and the Wallace mentality of segregation now, segregation forever? It took marching and protesting just like these men and women did to change those damned laws. If they had not taken a stand, guess where we would be. Give them their honorary degrees--and apoligize for the wrong and thank them for what we have now.

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firefly 3 years ago

GET OVER IT ALREADY! What about the men and women that have served our country during wartime and didn't receive any "honorary" degrees?? If you want to fight for justice and EQUALITY then do that, but let's not pick one race and/or one instance in history where somone receives something like this. So let's see... our service men and women fought to keep our freedom and keep us safe, and the civil rights gave us historic black colleges, affirmative action, and the NAACP --- kinda sounds like we are still segregated but by different standards. Is that okay??? I don't think it is.

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