In a response to a petition calling for a change to the name of the campus dining hall to honor a long-time employee, SUNY New Paltz president Donald P. Christian said he’d ask the university’s Diversity and Inclusion Council to look at the pros and cons of retaining or replacing the names of several campus buildings named for the town’s founding families, who were slaveholders.
The decision comes as towns, cities and other institutions grapple with changing building names and removing monuments honoring persons associated with views most today find objectionable— particularly the Confederacy, but also others linked to slavery, segregation and other manifestations of “white supremacy.”
Those arguing for the changes say a progressive and moral community (and nation) should not honor such persons, and allowing the names and monuments to stand sends a message that the racist values of the society that built them have not been truly rejected.
Those arguing that the names and monuments should remain present various arguments. There are some, like those who rallied in Charlottesville in a park that had been recently renamed “Emancipation Park” from “Lee Park,” who embrace white identity/white nationalist/white supremacy ideas. There are more who feel a campaign to remove statues and change names represents an unsettling denial of history; while they might understand why the citizens in a community with a prominent statue of a Confederate general in the center of town might want to replace it, they fear that the movement won’t stop there, but would continue on to rename and remove any reference to any historical (or relatively modern) figure who wasn’t on “the right side of history.”
What do you think?
Should SUNY New Paltz change the names of buildings named for the town’s earliest families because they were slave-owners?
- No (77%, 132 Votes)
- Yes (23%, 39 Votes)
Total Voters: 171