Students plan to gather at 12:10 p.m. today near the Silent Sam monument at McCorkle Place to propose a new name for Saunders Hall — Hurston Hall, named after Zora Neale Hurston, who was a faculty member at North Carolina Central University.
The “Kick out the KKK” movement has worked for years to rename Saunders Hall, which is named after William Saunders, a UNC alum and trustee who was also the chief organizer of North Carolina’s KKK in the late 1800s.
“I feel disgusted to call myself a Tar Heel while these symbols are allowed on campus,” said Omololu Babatunde, one of the students involved in the Real Silent Sam Coalition, the group organizing the rally.
Babatunde expressed her frustration with University administrators, saying that though Board of Trustees members claim they have started a dialogue, there have been no changes on campus. Ultimately, the board decides whether the hall will be renamed.
“Last year, the Board of Trustees told us they would listen to us as long as we didn’t make a scene,” Babatunde said. “We did a petition and a very small rally and then we spent a lot of time and work on a presentation for them, but they didn’t respond. It’s hurtful and very disrespectful.”
Babatunde said students are tired of speaking out and not receiving a response. Renaming the hall would give students proof the administration is willing to work with them, she said.
“Students are saying this isn’t a healthy environment for them to be in,” she said. “With cuts to the Stone Center and talk of repealing affirmative action and certain posts on Yik Yak, my identity as a black student was under attack.”
“I just don’t think the administration gets that all of this is connected.”