Group of students call for dismissal of Dalhousie University's interim president

Some students at Dalhousie University in Halifax are calling for the dismissal of the school's new interim president.

Peter MacKinnon, the former president of the University of Saskatchewan, took over Dal's top job in January as it searches for a new permanent president.

But his appointment has proven controversial, with a group of students saying his book on campus debate and dissent expresses "racist perspectives" on topics like blackface.

MacKinnon says he wrote the book because of a sense that public conversations on difficult issues have become more severe.

Letitia Meynell, an associate professor of philosophy at Dalhousie, questions the choice of MacKinnon.

She says the university has made repeated claims that it's committed to diversity and inclusion, but yet hires what she calls an "extremely divisive figure."

MacKinnon acknowledges that some of the issues explored in his book have "touched a nerve."

In a report to the university's senate this week, he says he doesn't condone blackface.

Hayley Zacks, a fourth-year student studying at Dalhousie, says MacKinnon is "backtracking."

She says his book still perpetuates blackface and gives excuses to students that do blackface.