Campus community outraged after insensitive Facebook posts from a Georgia Southern employee go viral

Andy Cole

STATESBORO — After insensitive posts by a Georgia Southern staff member went viral, GS officials condemn “hate and bigotry.”

Denise Allen, an assistant manager at Lakeside Dining Commons, has shared or penned nearly 20 racially or politically insensitive posts on her personal Facebook account.

One of the posts, appearing to be authored by Allen on June 16, reads, “LIVES MATTER! If you need a color in front of those words, YOU’RE a racist.”

Another post, apparently shared by Allen on June 10 and commenting on the death of George Floyd, said, “7 funerals, a golden casket, and broadcast on every major network for a man who was a violent felon and career criminal? Soldiers die and the family gets a flag.”

The aforementioned and other insensitive posts can be found below.

In a statement released on her Facebook page, Allen appeared to stand her ground.

“I never thought me posting that All Lives Matter could make people think I am a bad person,” wrote Allen. “I don’t look at color. I am not a fake person and I am not going to sit here and argue with anyone about this.”

Allen’s full statement can be found below.

The George-Anne has made repeated attempts to contact Allen via Facebook Messenger and email. We have not yet heard back. 

Since messaging her on Friday, it appears Allen has deleted her Facebook page.

The posts came to light after David Lewis (‘09), a former GS football player and current K-12 educator in Tennessee, saw the June 16 post on his timeline, began investigating and later posted on his Facebook page.

“It’s all just, you know, day after day after day of postings that I felt were racially insensitive,” said Lewis. “[The posts were] very problematic in terms of being an employee of the university and something that brought major concern just as an alum, and Black alum at that.”

Lewis brought his concerns to GS officials including President Kyle Marrero’s public email, Annalee Ashley, chief of staff to Marrero, and three of Marrero’s associates.

In response to Lewis, Ashley noted her frustration with these actions and assured him that GS is aware of the situation.

“Please know that I absolutely share your frustration and your repulsion with these offensive and tonedeaf images and messages,” wrote Ashley. “I cannot discuss actions that have been taken with an employee, but I can assure you that we are aware and we evaluate each instance we are made aware of in order to take measures that we are able to within our legal purview as a public institution.”

Ashley also included a partial list of the inclusive excellence actions GS has been taking and offered to talk with Lewis anytime. 

One of Lewis’ friends on Facebook, and GS 2019 graduate, later shared Allen’s posts on Twitter. That tweet, which can be found below, is nearing 500 retweets.

{{tncms-inline account=”BB💰” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Denise Allen is a GeorgiaSouthern employee. More specifically, the Asst. Manager for Lakeside dining hall. She has posted several offensive things about protest/BLM! <a href="https://t.co/ffi0ZKshMn">pic.twitter.com/ffi0ZKshMn</a></p>— BB💰 (@RhapRhappp) <a href="https://twitter.com/RhapRhappp/status/1274013095422197760?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 19, 2020</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/RhapRhappp/status/1274013095422197760″ type=”twitter”}}

In an email to The George-Anne, John Lester, vice president for university communications and marketing, said, “Georgia Southern condemns hate and bigotry in any form and does not endorse, condone, or in any way exert control over posts made by employees who are not authorized to speak for the institution.”

“We are unable to comment on personnel actions involving specific employees and appreciate your understanding,” Lester added.

The George-Anne contacted Kent Tatum and Avia Brown, general manager and assistant manager, respectively, at Lakeside Dining Commons, Jeff Yawn, executive director of eagle dining services, Rebecca Carroll, associate vice president for human resources and TaJuan Wilson, associate vice president for inclusive excellence and chief diversity officer.

None of them have responded to The George-Anne’s request for comment.

This is an active story. The George-Anne will continue to monitor the situation. 

Andy Cole, Managing Editor for News Coverage, [email protected]