Albion, MI – The newly-inaugurated president of Albion College, who has described the George Floyd riots as “peaceful activism,” is facing a petition for his removal that alleged he bullied students and ignored harassment of minorities.
The petition, which was set up anonymously online, called for the ouster of Albion College President Mathew Johnson, who was formally inaugurated as the 17th president of the small private college on Sept. 18.
Johnson made headlines when he sent out an email to the entire campus community after the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol that labeled the riot the work of white supremacists.
“Yesterday’s actions were an attack on the very fabric of our democracy and unfortunately were not a one-off. Rather, they were the logical culmination of a prolonged campaign to undermine our democracy and a clear display of white supremacy,” the president of Albion wrote in the email that was obtained by The Police Tribune.
“Yesterday’s actions also stand in stark contrast to a summer of peaceful activism in communities around the country demanding accountability and change in policing systems that lead to police killings of Black people,” Johnson’s email continued. “While we stand to condemn the actions yesterday, we simultaneously condemn the very disparate actions taken against unarmed peaceful Black and Brown protestors.”
Albion College and its president made headlines again in April when students protested for racial justice after racist graffiti was found on campus.
The graffiti was found on April 2 and stated, “Albion is racist … we do exist KKK”, “Die [n-word] Please!”; “KKK white power,” and a Jewish star with 666 written on it, according to MLive.
The City Watch NEWS Group posted photos of the racist graffiti on Facebook.
Campus police investigated and determined that the culprit was a black student at Albion College.
The 21-year-old African-American student admitted to having done the racist graffiti himself, MLive reported.
Johnson stated that the student was placed on temporary suspension during the investigation.
The student acted alone, according to college officials.
Police said campus video surveillance confirmed his story, according to The Albion Pleiad.
Calhoun County Prosecutor’s Office has not yet announced if any criminal charges will be filed, according to MLive.
One of the charges in the petition is that Johnson ignored harassment of minorities until protests started in April.
But the protests the petition referred to were those that were sparked by the fake racist graffiti, MLive reported.
The petition also alleged that Johnson bullied his staff and students with a “my way or the highway attitude” and accused the university president of having tried to force fraternities out of fraternity houses and into campus housing.
He was also accused of using a construction company he owned to do work at Albion and illegally keeping two goats on campus, MLive reported.
An Albion College spokeswoman responded to the accusations and explained that the construction company named in the petition belonged to the school.
“The LLC corporate form requires that the college appoint officers, including its chief planning officer, as corporate officers of the LLC,” he explained. “They provide logistical and managerial oversight to the LLC. As president of the college, President Johnson is listed as an officer of the LLC. Officers or employees of the college have no ownership or stake in the company.”
The spokesman said Johnson derived “no financial profit” from the proceeds of the construction company, MLive reported.
“While we always listen to, value and take feedback into strong consideration, we and the board of trustees stand behind our approach, remain committed to leading boldly and will continue to hold our campus community to a high standard,” Albion College spokeswoman Susie Pentelow, told MLive.
The petition for Johnson’s removal had more than 1,500 signatures when he was formally installed as Albion’s president on Sept. 18, and had more than 1,800 signatures at publication time.