College Official Calls White Men 'Root of Most Evil'

By Scott Hogenson CNS Executive Editor

21 April, 2000

( - A top University of Iowa official has apologized for a remark in which she referred to white men as "the root of most evil."

University Relations Vice President Ann Rhodes made the comment Thursday when responding to a question about racist e-mails and a recent bomb threat at the school.

"I figured it was going to be a white guy between 25 and 55 because they're the root of most evil," Rhodes said Thursday. The suspect apprehended in the case was a black female student at the university.

In apologizing for the comment, Rhodes said that it was "a poor attempt at humor," and said it was "inappropriate to joke about such a sensitive issue."

"I feel so horrible about this and I apologized as quickly as I could (Thursday) and I've been apologizing ever since," Rhodes told Friday. "This is the worst thing I've ever said."

Rhodes, who's worked for the university for the past 22 years and spent the past 11 years as the university's official spokesperson, said she's received numerous e-mails from men who were offended by the comment, along with correspondence from women she said agreed with her comments.

The apology from Rhodes noted that it was inappropriate to refer to white men as evil because it "reinforces the kinds of stereotypes we have been working to dispel."

Assistant Director for University Affairs Mary New told that she had "no knowledge" of whether the remark would draw any disciplinary action by the school or whether any sort of sensitivity training would be considered.

Rhodes' comment was made during a Thursday news conference following the arrest of a student in the university's College of Dentistry. She made her remark when asked by a reporter if she was surprised that the suspect in the case was a black female student.

The suspect was identified as Tarsha Claiborne, a second year student at the University of Iowa's College of Dentistry. Rhodes said Claiborne admitted sending racist e-mails and threatening to bomb the school at which she is a student.

Rhodes said Claiborne also confessed to an unrelated incident in which noodles were dyed red and dumped on the doorstep of a black male student at the College of Dentistry along with a message reading "Dead black man's brains." According to Rhodes, there is no indication at this time why Claiborne undertook any of the actions she confessed to.

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