By Patricia Alex, Staff Writer, The Record

A coalition of black ministers on Friday rallied about 60 people on the Union campus of Kean University to press their demand that President Dawood Farahi resign, saying he has presided over a culture of “fear and intimidation that has hurt minority students.”

The administration countered that the protesters were “misguided and misinformed,” and one of Farahi’s most powerful backers, state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, said using “inflammatory racist charges” against the president “is not going to work.”

Kean is one of the most diverse universities in the country and minorities comprise a majority of its student body. Farahi, the school’s Afghan-born president, has long been a lightning rod for controversy over his management of the school – such as flamboyant building projects that include a campus in China.

Complaints against him escalated into claims of racism last month when the ministers group complained that minority staff at the school had been treated unfairly by the administration. Kean dismissed those complaints as those of “disgruntled” former employees.

The group’s call for Farahi’s resignation followed a Twitter threat that targeted black students during an on-campus rally for racial justice in the nation. Police later deemed the threat a hoax orchestrated by one of the protesters.

But the ministers group, headed by the Reverend Ronald Slaughter of Newark, says it will keep the pressure on.

In its statement the administration said “The people here today are not our students, that is clear, and they do not reflect the reality of campus life at Kean.”

It seemed very few students attended the rally along Morris Avenue, but some faculty did attend and the protest was a catchall for grievances against Farahi.

Slaughter said structural racism permeates that university, where money for “vanity” projects has been diverted from student services and classroom teaching.

“To pay for these projects, the faculty size has been dramatically cut, college advisers were eliminated, and funds for critical academic and student support services have been reduced,” Slaughter said. “President Farahi’s policies mean that Kean’s students don’t receive the same quality of education that students get at our sister institutions such as Montclair State University.”


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