Lipscomb University President Apologizes After Having Cotton Stalks as Centerpieces During Dinner With Black Students

The president of Lipscomb University invited African American students over to his Nashville home for dinner Friday, where he had cotton stalks as centerpieces. After the students deemed the tableware offensive, he issued an apology.

President L. Randolph Lowry, who is white, invited black students to his home for dinner to discuss their experiences at Lipscomb, according to a Facebook post. The students noticed his dinner table was laden with cotton stalks, which offended them, according to the post. Lowry apologized through a campus-wide email.

“The content of the centerpieces was offensive, and I could have handled the situation with more sensitivity,” he wrote. “I sincerely apologize for the discomfort, anger or disappointment we caused and solicit your forgiveness.”

Lowery invited the students over to discuss the school, which has a student population that is roughly 77 percent white, 7 percent African-American and 6 percent Latino, according to a diversity report. Nashville, where Lipscomb is located, is predominately white at 65 percent, with a 26 percent black population.

Amid controversies concerning confederate memorabilia in U.S. cities, Nashville rejected a proposal for the removal of a monument of former Klu Klux Klan leader Confederate Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest from its state Capitol Sept. 1, USA Today reported.

Multiple students confided in him regarding his centerpieces, the president stated. A conversation between himself and the students about the centerpieces is needed, Lowry said.

“I have heard from a number of students who would like to spend more time together engaging in conversation,” said Lowry. “I am most pleased to do so either in small groups or individually.”

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International Business Times