While discussing a letter the college recieved in 2000 from the Michigan Department of Education about its seeming lack of racial diversity, Arnn said, "They said we violated the standards for diversity because we didn't have enough dark ones, I guess is what they meant." When asked to clarify his statement, Arnn said that the state of Michigan had sent representatives to Hillsdale to mark down the color of people's faces on clipboards, the Detroit Free Press reports.
A Michigan Department of Education spokesperson confirmed to the Free Press that no representatives had ever been sent to Hillsdale to identify students by race.
Several legislators chastised Arnn after his remarks, according to the Free Press. One Democratic lawmaker told Arnn "You’re the president of a college. I would expect better out of you."
Since the incident, Arnn has found support in both the Hillsdale administration and alumni of the college.
"I think this was Dr. Arnn's way to indicate that he was offended with what they were doing in taking clipboards and walking around campus to record the color of students' skin," one Hillsdale alum told MLive.
A statement from the college reaffirmed the school's commitment against discrimination based on "nationality, color or sex." Founded in 1844, Hillsdale was the first college in America whose charter prohibited discrimination.
The statement reads, "A controversy has arisen over Dr. Arnn's use of the term 'dark ones' to describe the students the state bureaucrats were there to identify. No offense was intended by the use of that term except to the offending bureaucrats, and Dr. Arnn is sorry if such offense was honestly taken. But the greater concern, he believes, is the state-endorsed racism the story illustrates."
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