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Should universities renamebuildings whose namesakesperpetuated slavery?You decide!1.1DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:1. As task forces across the country continue to deliberateabout the best way forward, what principles should guide theirdecision about whether to remove names?2. Is it fair to say that building names are a matter ofpsychological or emotional "safety" for students on campus? Whyor why not?3. Are building names analogous to public monuments ormemorials? How about other 'named' features of the academicworld, such as fellowships, endowed chairs, labs and prizes?YES: Universities should renamebuildings due to the racist views andactions of the original namesakes1.2Renaming buildings isan act of justice forvictims of racialdiscrimination andtheir descendants2.1Removing the namesdemonstratesrecognition ofhistorical wrongdoing3.1According to Guskiewicz,“The actions of theseindividuals were egregiouseven for their time, andtheir conduct was central totheir careers and lives as awhole"4.1Building names honortheir namesakes andthe ideals theyespoused2.2Naming a buildingafter someone is away of honoring them3.2People are honoredfor what they did andstood for3.3Universities shouldnot valorize racism2.3Changing the namesis necessary forproducing moresubstantive changearound issues of race2.4Prominent displays ofthe names of whitesupremacistsnormalizes deep-rooted culturalassumptions of whitesupremacy3.4To David Harris, managing directorof the Charles Hamilton HoustonInstitute for Race and Justice atHarvard Law School, “Keeping thesenames is a way of normalizing thehorrors of our history"4.2Changing the namesof buildings changesdeep-rooted culturalunderstandings ofwhite supremacy3.5Displaying the namesof racist figuresaround a campuscreates anatmosphere hostile toacademic inquiry2.5Displaying the namesof racist figuresrestricts free andopen discussion3.6Displaying the namesof racist figures createsan environment inwhich people of colorcannot freelyparticipate4.3A university atmospherethat seems to celebratehistoric racism candiscourage people of colorfrom attending or workingat a university5.1An unwelcomingatmosphere canintimidate peoplefrom participating orbeing open indiscussion anddebate5.2According to Kevin Guskiewicz,Chancellor of the Board ofTrustees at UNC-Chapel Hill,"Continuing to honor these menis antithetical toward our work inbuilding a diverse and inclusivecommunity"5.3Free discussionrequires the freeparticipation ofparticipants4.4Academic inquiryrequires free andopen discussion3.7Universities shouldprioritize promotingacademic inquiry2.6BACKGROUND:One key point in the ongoing battle against the legacy of racialinequality in the United States has been the significance of universitybuildings named after historical figures associated with slavery or whitesupremacy.On July 29th, 2020, the board of trustees at UNC-Chapel Hill voted 11-2to remove the names of Charles Aycock, Josephus Daniels, Julian Carrand Thomas Ruffin Sr. from UNC campus buildings because of their tiesto white supremacy in North Carolina.Many protesters, alumni, faculty and students at universities across thecountry have argued that buildings should be renamed in light of theviews and actions of their original namesakes, while others havecontended that these facts should not result in renaming the buildings.1.4NO: Building names should not bechanged, despite the unethical viewsand actions of the originalnamesakes1.3Renaming buildingscould prevent theopportunity for amore substantivereckoning with pastinjustice2.7Erasing the names ofthese people becauseof what they did couldprevent furtherconversations aboutwhy what they did iswrong3.8Racist names onbuildings areemblematic of deeperproblems of racialinjustice atuniversities3.9Taking symbolicefforts beforesubstantive ones canhinder moresubstantive progress3.10Changing the nameof a building gives aninstitution the abilityto claim that anongoing issue isresolved4.5According to formerHarvard presidentand civil war historianDrew Faust, “I think ifyou erase the wholepast, it’s too easy tofeel innocent. It’s tooeasy to not learn fromit and to think thatyou’re not going tomake any mistakes inthe present—you’rebetter than thosemistakes. We’re notbetter than thosemistakes."5.4The process ofgetting a namechanged or removedis time and effortintensive4.6It took at least twoyears for Yale'sCalhoun College toget renamed as GraceHopper College aftercalls for renamingfirst began5.5The list of morallyobjectionablehistorical figureswhose names havebeen memorializedon buildings isendless5.6This is energy thatcould be spent onaddressing moresubstantive issues4.7Instead, the buildingnames should be leftas an opportunity forfurther education2.8Changing the namesof buildings is anineffective means ofbringing about justice2.9Changing the namesnegatively affectscurrent stakeholders3.11The names havevalues and meaningsto today'sstakeholders thatoften transcend theoriginal namesake4.8Changing the namesdoes not take intoaccount all theseother values andmeanings4.9The people for whomthe buildings werenamed are dead, andcan't be punished3.12Establishing aprecedent ofrenaming buildingsbased on moraljudgments ofnamesakes islogistically impossible2.10Buildings are oftennamed in honor ofdonors as part of theagreement to donate3.13Johns HopkinsUniversity was namedfor Johns Hopkins, itsfirst benefactor whogave $7 milliondollars to found theuniversity and severalother affiliatedinstitutions4.10Once the building hasbeen built it cannotbe given back inexchange for therevocation of thenaming privilege3.14The process ofrenaming buildingshas no resolution:every building with anamesake is or couldbecome a legitimatecandidate forrenaming3.15There are no clear,consistent criteria forwho counts as amorally "goodenough" person to bea namesake for abuilding4.11

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