'I Thought It Was a Joke': Not All Hofstra Students Want Thomas Jefferson Statue Removed
A Hofstra University student said Thursday he thought it was a joke when a group of student activists at the New York school called for the removal of a statue of Thomas Jefferson on campus.
The students' petition argues that "Jefferson’s values aided in the construction of institutionalized racism and justified the subjugation of black people in the United States."
But not all students support the effort, with some labeling it as "silly."
"Yes, [Jefferson] was a slaveholder, but [the students] are not putting it into historical context and they're not acknowledging [that] while, yes, he did some bad things, he also did some really good things," said Chris Kostulias on "Fox & Friends."
The statue, gifted to the Hempstead, Long Island university, stands outside the Sondra and David S. Mack Student Center, which the petition refers to as "one of the central points for on-campus life and student activities."
"I really think you need to look at the big picture here," said African-American Hofstra student Malcolm McCoy.
Thomas Jefferson was known to have enslaved hundreds of people during his lifetime. More than 25 cities across the country have removed Confederate statues amid a nationwide debate about race and history.
"I honestly thought it was a joke," said Kostulias, arguing that one of the nation's founders should not be viewed the same way as Confederate generals.
The petition was started by Ja’Loni Owens, who told News 12 Long Island she has received death threats over the matter.
Hofstra issued a statement regarding the conflict, saying the university "supports our students' right to engage in peaceful demonstrations about issue that matter to them. We look forward to continuing a civil exchange of ideas and perspectives on the subject."
A protest is planned for Friday afternoon on campus to express the opposite view.
Watch the discussion above.