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ASU Is Looking Into Alleged Racist Statements by Its New Journalism Dean

Sonya Duhé
Sonya Duhé

(UPDATE: Following publication of this article and an in-depth investigation by the State Press, ASU announced that Duhé would not be the next dean. On June 10, Kristin Gilger was named interim dean.)

Arizona State University is looking into "concerns" about alleged racist statements made to students by the next dean of its journalism school.

Sonya Forte Duhé, currently the director of the School of Communication and Design at Loyola University New Orleans, was named by ASU in March to lead the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, to start on July 1, after Dean Christopher Callahan leaves for the University of the Pacific.

Trouble for Duhé's appointment appeared on Twitter on June 2 in the form of a long, biting Twitter thread by Whitney Woods, a former student and former social media director for The Maroon, the university's newspaper

"OK HERE WE GO. Dear KAREN...i mean SONYA," Woods wrote. " There is no way in HELL that BLACK LIVES matter to you. I would like respectively ask for you FUCK OFF. You are one of, if not, THE most racist human that I have ever encountered in a professional setting."

Woods linked to a tweet on Duhé's Twitter account that has since been deleted.

Woods' thread goes on with a litany of complaints about Duhé, claiming that she "told me to my face that you didn't 'think i was black' because i "didn't act black;'" that her hair was "messy" and not ready for TV; asked about her "African roots;" and treated other black students "like shit."

She indicates in the thread that she's filed multiple complaints against with the school against Duhé, and that her problem with Duhé has gone on for a while, saying Duhé "LIED about our curriculum needs for senior year to try and get me to NOT GRADUATE."

Mark Searle, ASU's executive vice president and provost, posted a message to students today about the situation:

"Over the last 24 hours I have been made aware, along with President [Michael] Crow, of concerns about her past treatment of students, and in particular, students of color, at Loyola University in New Orleans. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is unwavering at Arizona State University. We will be looking into the concerns brought to our attention."

Asked to comment, ASU's media office gave the same statement.

Searle's statement also says Duhé is Loyola's Louis Read Distinguished Professor of Communication, and that her 16-year career at the University of South Carolina included roles in the president's and provost's offices.

Neither Duhé nor Woods returned messages seeking comment.

Woods' tweet is thread embedded below:

(Correction: Woods graduated in 2015 and is the former social media director of the Maroon.)

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