TO THE EDITOR:
The racially-motivated violence conducted by the Ku Klux Klan would be classified as terrorism according to the standards of any generation. It was illegal in the 19th century, just as it is illegal today. As the chief organizer of the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina, Colonel William Saunders was responsible, and even honored, for that violence. Saunders is indeed a part of North Carolina and our University’s history. But that is not reason enough for a campus building to continue bearing his name.
The renaming of Saunders Hall is a priority of mine and of the Summers administration as a whole. My administration will work throughout the year to encourage creative thinking about how the University can implement mechanisms that accurately contextualize the racial history of Saunders Hall and the University for students and visitors.
I firmly believe that we do not have to choose between renaming the building and commemorating our history. These options are by no means mutually exclusive. The dialogue that has been created among students, faculty and the administration must continue.
The Summers administration will strongly advocate for the renaming of Saunders Hall. Throughout this process, we will support all students at our University and fight for their voices to be heard.