A Georgia lawmaker is trying to find out whether any of the state’s public universities are teaching about white privilege or oppression, part of a larger national debate over how colleges should teach about American history and race relations.

University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley asked the system’s 26 colleges and universities on Jan. 21 to research the information after state Rep. Emory Dunahoo, a Gillsville Republican, submitted questions on the topic to Wrigley following budget hearings.

Some faculty members are bristling at the questions, saying they intrude into a professor’s academic freedom and are part of an effort by Republicans to impose their vision of history and social relations. Conservatives, though, say they’re fighting left-wing indoctrination by professors.

Dunahoo denied he has any preconceived notions and said that he won’t come to a conclusion until he receives responses from his request.

“These questions come from my constituents in the district who want to know what’s being taught to their kids at college,” he told The Times of Gainesville on Friday.

Dunahoo sent Wrigley three questions. They include:

1) Are any classes within the Georgia public school system or the University System of Georgia teaching students that possessing certain characteristics inherently designates them as either being “privileged” or “oppressed?”

2) Are any classes within the Georgia public school system or the University System of Georgia teaching students what constitutes “privilege” and “oppression?”

3) Are any classes within the Georgia public school system or the University System of Georgia teaching students who identify as white, male, heterosexual or Christian are intrinsically privileged and oppressive, which is defined as “malicious or unjust” and “wrong?”

Some presidents and provosts are examining course titles and syllabuses to answer the question. In at least one case, at Douglas-based South Georgia State College, some professors were asked directly.

“We are a state agency and are always responsive to the elected representatives of the people of Georgia,” said university system spokesperson Aaron Diamant.

While Dunahoo’s email mentions public schools, state Department of Education spokesperson Meghan Frick said neither Dunahoo nor any other lawmaker has contacted the agency with the concerns.

Dunahoo’s request was first reported by the Ledger-Enquirer.

A photo of the Georgia State Capitol at night on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (Photo by: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

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