SUNY-New Paltz approves new names for college buildings

The SUNY Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Wednesday, March 20, in favor of a resolution to remove and replace the names of six SUNY New Paltz buildings named for original Huguenot patentees of the village of New Paltz.

The impetus behind the name change was the historical fact that the namesake families owned slaves.

The new building names, as selected by the SUNY New Paltz College Council at their March 6 meeting, pay homage to local geographic features. They will be assigned to the campus buildings to mirror their actual locations – for instance, Lefevre Hall, the eastern-most of the buildings, will become Shawangunk Hall, because the Shawangunk Ridge is the eastern-most of these features.

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  • Bevier Hall will become Minnewaska Hall
  • Crispell Hall will become Ashokan Hall
  • Deyo Hall will become Awosting Hall
  • Dubois Hall will become Mohonk Hall
  • Lefevre Hall will become Shawangunk Hall
  • Hasbrouck Dining Hall will become Peregrine Dining Hall

The Hasbrouck Complex, which consists of all six buildings, will become the Peregrine Complex.

The SUNY Board of Trustees is the governing body of the State University of New York. Its vote in favor of this resolution is the final approval needed for the renaming of these buildings to move forward.

“We are pleased to approve the decision of the New Paltz community, which recognizes SUNY’s commitment to providing a welcoming educational environment that embraces our diversity,” said SUNY Chairman H. Carl McCall. “President [Donald P.] Christian is to be applauded for his leadership on bringing together the campus and community to question the historic names on these residence halls and select new names that best respect local culture.”

“Student government, faculty governance, administrators, the Diversity & Inclusion Council, College Council members and Huguenot descendants engaged each other in one of the most rewarding examples of shared governance I’ve seen,” said President Christian. “Our students were inspired to be part of this process, proud to be part of a campus that was willing to take on such a thorny issue, and learned much about how change can happen.”

The current names will remain on the buildings through the end of the summer to ensure smooth and safe day-to-day functioning during the remainder of spring semester and new student orientations that occur over the summer.

The new names will be effective at the start of the fall 2019 semester.

The College is also moving ahead with other recommendations of the Diversity and Inclusion Council. A working group of students, faculty and staff is developing concepts for a contemplative space and other ways to present a more complete and honest history of the campus and surrounding community for future students and visitors.

“That includes the history and lasting impacts of slavery, especially northern slavery; the contributions of enslaved Africans and their descendants; the history and legacy of indigenous people before and after European settlement; and the many positive contributions of Huguenot descendants to civic and educational life in New Paltz and beyond,” President Christian said.

There are 6 comments

  1. TheRedDogParty

    Renaming buildings does nothing in advancing the factual history of slavery. It may be politically correct, but in some ways intrudes on free speech issues.

    Should we deny the presidency of Thomas Jefferson and bulldoze the Jefferson Memorial?

    The college has missed an educational opportunity.

    Should the Village of New Paltz rename Huguenot Street and the historic buildings there? We cannot erase history no matter how abhorrent it was.

  2. Greg Fischer

    What’s next? Rename name the George Washington Bridge? Tear down and rebuild the White House? When does the “erasing”stop?

    Not only did slave laborers help build the White House nearly all of the earliest presidents (except for John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams) were slave owners.

    George Washington kept some 300 slave at his Mount Vernon plantation.

    Thomas Jefferson owned around 175 servants at Monticello.

    James Madison and James Monroe and Andrew Jackson each kept several dozen slaves.

    Martin Van Buren owned a slave during his early career.

    William Henry Harrison owned several inherited slaves before becoming president in 1841.

    John Tyler and James K. Polk were both slaveholders during their stints in office.

    Zachary Taylor, who served from 1849-1850, was the last chief executive to keep slaves while living in the White House. He owned some 150 servants on plantations in Kentucky, Mississippi and Louisiana.

    Shall we take all of those past presidents out of history? When does it stop and when do we move forward. How do we remember, and acknowledge, and REPAIR the barbarism of the past when we have renamed the landmarks, redrawn the maps, and burned the books?

  3. Montague

    Juliet:

    “What’s in a name; that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet? Oh, Romeo…doff thy name, and for that name which is no part of thee, take all myself.”

  4. npz 60 yrs

    Very Sad No Public Vote?

    Wheres The Democracy?

    Liberals Who Made This Change Dont Support Public Vote???

    Liberals And Conservatives Are Equally Bad, Neither Group Support Public Vote.

    This Should Have Been Public Vote…..

  5. chekwriter

    still trying to UNDO history. IT CANNOT BE DONE. It happened. This was the history of the area. The men and WOMEN who founded this country did so under the circumstances of the time, YOU CANNOT UN DO IT. YOU CANNNOT CHANGE HISTORY. NEVER CAN BE UN DONE.

    Learn by it, If mistakes considered by todays standard of living and lifestyle, has NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT HAPPENED THEN.

    IF NOT FOR THEM, YOU WOULD NOT BE HERE TO REAP THE BENEFIT OF THEIR SACRIFICES. YOU CANNOT OBLITERATE HISTORY. NEVER.

    When you begin burying history and BURNING THE BOOKS, you have slapped your ancestors in the face.

    THEY ARE YOUR ANCESTORS. You cannot change that.

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