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Trustee asks faculty to give feedback on Saunders Hall

Associate Professor at North Carolina Central University Antonio Baines (right), speaks at the Faculty Executive meeting on Monday.

Associate Professor at North Carolina Central University Antonio Baines (right), speaks at the Faculty Executive meeting on Monday.

Duckett said the board has encountered many differing opinions on the matter, and this meeting was no different.

“Everyone on the board cares about this; the administration cares about this,” Duckett said.

“I want to be clear that we want to get this right.”

Controversy surrounding Saunders Hall began when a group of students demanded that the building name be changed.

The building is named after William Saunders, who was a chief organizer of the Ku Klux Klan, a confederate colonel in the Civil War and a trustee for the University.

But some say that the building is a part of UNC's history and changing it will not erase history.

“I wouldn’t want any name change to be seen as a solution to all of our problems and now we are whole and the history has never passed,” said committee member Suchi Mohanty.

Others say changing the name wouldn’t cause people to forget.

The current UNC community has its own set of values that are different than the values of communities past, said history professor Anne Whisnant. She said UNC shouldn’t be held to those past values now.

“We are always doing a kind of sifting with our past,” said Whisnant. “As a historian, I don’t worry about forgetting our past if we renamed the building. We have a real opportunity to edit that and align it to our current values.”

The black community is not unified in its opinion on Saunders Hall. While many students have demanded the name change, Debbie Stroman, chairwoman of the Carolina Black Caucus, listed reasons why the name should stay.

“Removing a name will not erase, edit or change the history of North Carolina,” Stroman said.

“We refuse to be prisoners of the past, and we forgive and embrace peace. So, in summary, we are not supporting the taking down of the name.”

Duckett spoke about having more Carolina Conversations, events where the Carolina community can come together and hash out issues, on this matter.

Duckett also mentioned that there is a new feature on the Board of Trustees website that allows people to write in what they think should be done about the possibility of renaming Saunders Hall.

Duckett said the goal is to have a decision made by the Board of Trustees meeting in May, although it could change if there isn’t a clear resolution by then.

“We have done a very thorough review,” Duckett said.

“But this is not about today; this is about today and all the future. But there’s no desire whatsoever to drag this out.”

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