A recent column in The Daily Collegian that called for black people to use violence to defend themselves against white people has created a stir both at the University and national level.
Of the dozens of calls the University received, many were from concerned parents and alumni, said University Director of Public Information Bill Mahon.
Many people feel the Collegian is part of the University, despite its status as an independent, student-run newspaper, Mahon said.
"It's much easier to put PSU in a headline than Daily Collegian," he said.
The column, written by sportswriter Chino Wilson (senior-journalism) and published Tuesday, called for black people "to form a militia to defend our property, our beautiful black women, men and children" and called AIDS "a diabolical plot to exterminate black people."
The Associated Press, "Sally Jessy Raphael," CNN, CBS News New York, ABC News New York and The Washington Post have all contributed to the media blitz.
Parents who called expressed concern for their children's safety, Mahon said.
"They're afraid that something like this tends to raise tension in a community . . . it presents the opportunity for people who are maybe out there on the fringes or on the extreme to maybe do something," Mahon said.
But the bigger issue, Mahon said, is the embarrassment and frustration felt by those working to create University and community diversity.
"You won't see people talking about (diversity) on late-night radio in Michigan . . . but one individual calling for violence can be heard above that," Mahon said.
But Collegian Opinion Editor Greg Scopino said the University assumes Wilson has more influence over minority students at the University than he actually has.
"People don't live and die by Chino's writings," Scopino said. "Since America is a free society, people have to endure having some opinions that are not mainstream in order to protect peoples' basic rights."
Some University officials are concerned with how the column will affect minority recruitment and retention.
In a statement released Friday, University President Joab Thomas called for the community to come together so "a single individual does not tear away all that has been done to support Penn State's recruitment and retention of minority students, faculty and staff."
And James Stewart, vice provost for underrepresented groups and member of the Campus Environment Team, criticized the Collegian for having a "do as I say, not as I do" attitude. He cited the Collegian editors' decision to run Wilson's column after repeatedly criticizing the University about three years ago for not expelling James Whitehead, a student who sent a message titled, "Why should one kill homosexuals?" broadcast internationally through a computer system.
He also criticized the Collegian's coverage of University efforts to enhance diversity at University Park and other campuses.
". . . there is virtually no Collegian coverage unless a controversial or critical angle can be developed," Stewart said.
But Terrell Jones, deputy vice provost, doubted that Wilson's column would greatly affect the University's diversity program and said media coverage has been sensational.
"Let's face it -- it wasn't an indictment of Penn State, it was an indictment of society," Jones said.
The column did not create the anger or racism that has since flared, Scopino said, explaining that it only brought it to the surface.
And implicating the Collegian because of low minority recruitment and retention is simplifying what actually creates these issues, Scopino said.
"I think it's faulty logic to make that connection," Scopino said.
R. Thomas Berner, professor of journalism and American studies, said the column provokes people because of attempts -- both at the University and on a national level -- to eliminate racial attacks.
"We would not condone this kind of writing from a white person and (it) is shocking when a black person does it," Berner said.
But Wilson's column presents no new views as opposed to what he has written before, Berner said, adding that he would not have run the column had he been in a position to decide.
"Editorials, columns and letters to the editor should generate light not heat, and this column generates heat," Berner said.
Wilson was in Iowa covering a wrestling event yesterday and could not be reached for comment.
Wilson has received death threats and his picture with the words, "wanted dead not alive," was given to police by an unidentified person Wednesday night.
Other Collegian editors have also received death threats.