HEMPSTEAD, Nassau County (WABC) -- A group of Hofstra students protested Friday to demand the removal a Thomas Jefferson statue near the school's student center.
Hundreds signed an online petition calling for it to be moved to a museum on campus.
The petition cites the fact that Jefferson was a slave owner and should not be celebrated.
"The main message would be basically that we do not want someone on this campus that is representative of white supremacy," student Michelle Boo said. "The number of black students on this campus is 3 percent, and we don't want them to feel unsafe on this campus, especially because we're the minority here. And he was a rapist, a racist, believed in eugenics. We don't want him to be displayed where every student can see him."
The protest was planned to be held outside, but after organizers apparently received threats, the event was moved indoors for the sake of safety and security. It was also closed to the media.
Another petition demands the statue stay, arguing that while Jefferson was a slave owner, he also worked to end slavery.
Students who signed that petition held a counter protest.
The discussion closely mirrors the "heritage or hate" national debate in recent years over the Confederate statues and the Confederate flag.
University officials will meet with students next month to hear all points of view.
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Hofstra students hold protest, counter protest over Thomas Jefferson statue
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