University President Robert Fisher visited members of the Black Student Association Friday morning in a special closed meeting to discuss comments he made at the Vision 2020 Town Hall.
“We talked about Vision 2020 and my mistake in using the word, ‘segregation,’” Fisher said in an interview Friday afternoon.
At the Vision 2020 Town Hall on Monday, Fisher was asked if the university would consider adding new historically black Greek organizations to campus. There is currently one black sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, on campus and one inactive fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma.
Fisher responded saying he would like to see mixed Greek organizations on campus rather than sororities and fraternities that identify themselves by race.
“In regards to what I call segregated sororities and fraternities, that may be the route we have to go, but that’s not my dream for Belmont,” he said at the town hall meeting. “My dream is a day when everybody is included in whatever we do.”
His use of the words “segregated sororities and fraternities” prompted BSA to call this special meeting.
Fisher spoke to approximately 40 members of the group for about 20 minutes and took comments from students, said Benita Walker, one of the sponsors of BSA.
Walker said the meeting was more of a conversation between students and Fisher than anything else.
“He engaged in a general dialogue with students about their concerns,” Walker said.
Fisher said he understood why his remarks at the town hall could have been misunderstood, but after the BSA meeting, he felt good about the discussion.
“It was a very positive meeting on a really difficult subject,” he said. “I thought they received me very well–kind and gracious.”
Senior and BSA President Briana August echoed those sentiments and lauded the meeting.
“It was a very constructive and positive discussion between the members and senior leadership. I think everyone benefited from the open discussion that occurred,” she said in a statement to the Vision.
Senior member Stevie Onuska was similarly appreciative and noted that the attitude of the room improved because of Fisher’s conversation.
“He said basically, ‘Hey, I understand what I did was wrong, here I am, let me know what I can do, how we can work together.’ There was an entire mood shift from the beginning to the end. People were upset with what was said,” Onuska said, in reference to Fisher’s town hall comments. “But as the discussion kept going, people were smiling and were happy that they could discuss one-on-one with Bob Fisher.”
This article was written by Kirk Bado, Grayson Hester and Will Hadden