SAVANNAH, Georgia (CNN) — Students said an author’s question and answer session after a lecture at Georgia Southern University quickly escalated, resulting in some students burning the author’s book after a discussion about race.
“This is crazy, this is wild,” said JaQuaylon Taylor, a freshmen information technology major. “I didn’t expect this to happen at all. It’s just not the way that night was supposed to be.”
A video shows several Georgia Southern students burning copies of author Jennie Capo Crucet’s book “Make Your Home Among Strangers” the night she spoke on campus.
Taylor shared the video.
He said he attended Crucet’s lecture discussing her book, which discusses diversity and the college experience.
Taylor said a student questioned the author about whether she had the authority to address issues of race and white privilege on campus. He said a debate followed.
“Once that question was asked, that’s when people started shouting at her about the person who was asking the question because they were saying we are diverse, we do have a diverse student body,” Taylor said.
In a statement issued Friday afternoon, Crucet said she has spoken about her book at 30 schools across the nation and that, “nothing close to the events at GSU has occurred during any of my previous campus visits.”
And later that night, Taylor said he witnessed students gathered around a grill, burning copies of Crucet’s book.
“Seeing that was just very shocking,” Taylor said.
Both the university and the department of writing and linguistics have disapproved of the incident.
The president of the GSU student body, Juwan Smith, wrote in an open letter that read, in part, “Opening the door to organic conversations is essential to learning and appreciating our differences.”
“I think that it needs to be taken very seriously because these are very serious topics,” Smith said. “These aren’t new topics.”
In a statement, GSU President Kyle Marrero supported Smith’s letter, adding, “Book burning does not align with Georgia Southern’s values nor does it encourage the civil discourse and debate of ideas.”
Crucet describes the scene in her statement:
“My campus hosts moved me from the lodging they arranged in town to another hotel in another town. I learned a crowd had formed outside my original accommodations.”
She praises GSU for inviting her and several of the students for their support and hopes the conversation about race continues at the university.