A chancellor-appointed committee unanimously voted Tuesday to put forth a recommendation to Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz that the University remove the names Charles B. Aycock, Josephus Daniels, Julian S. Carr, Thomas Ruffin and Thomas Ruffin Jr. from buildings on campus.
The committee plans to submit the recommendation in the form of a report to Guskiewicz. If approved, Guskiewicz will call a meeting with the BOT to vote on the removal of the names.
“I will act expeditiously in deciding whether to formally ask the Board of Trustees to consider this request,” Guskiewicz said at the start of Tuesday's meeting. “The board chair, Richard Stevens, has agreed, if necessary, to convene a special meeting to review this request, as we are at a critical moment in the history of our University and the nation, and I am grateful for the support of Richard and of our trustees to take on this issue on our campus."
The 13-member committee is composed of students, faculty, alumni and trustees, and is chaired by Vice Chancellor for Development David Routh.
The committee's report follows a recommendation originally made July 10 by the Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward to the chancellor to remove the names from Aycock Residence Hall, Josephus Daniels Student Stores, Carr Building and Ruffin Residence Hall. The Commission's resolution cited historical evidence of each namesake's connection to white supremacy.
Members of the chancellor's committee were tasked with reviewing the recommendation in accordance with the Board of Trustees’ new policy on the removal of names from buildings and public spaces.
Routh said the historical research and record of the Commission's report will be embedded in the committee's report, which he said should be relatively brief and describe their process and the committee's views on the strength of the evidence.
"I think we could run the risk of adding too much to that record, when that record is pretty strong and concise and clear already," Routh said.
Student Body President Reeves Moseley said there is an overwhelming sense of urgency among the student body to remove racist names from campus.
“In just a couple of weeks, there’s going to be transfer students, first-year students, students who haven't been on Carolina’s campus before that are going to be walking across campus and passing Aycock [Residence] Hall or Daniels [Student Stores], and that perpetuates a system of discrimination,” Moseley said.
Residence Hall Association President Kira Griffith echoed Moseley’s sentiment and added her perspective as a student who lived in Aycock Residence Hall.
“It was quite ironic to be living in a building that was named after somebody who was not just a part of the white supremacist movement, but was an influencer of it,” Griffith said.
In discussion of the principles put forward by the Board of Trustees, committee members agreed that there was clear historical evidence to support the removal of the names.
“It’s hard for me to imagine that anyone could read these principles and the backgrounds of these individuals and come to any different conclusion,” said Paul Fulton, a 1957 graduate and former BOT and UNC System Board of Governors member.
Specifically, Griffith said the four names fall under the BOT's criteria that honoring the namesakes jeopardizes the University’s mission.
“None of the values that these individuals supported, elevated and promoted around the country and globally follow the University’s mission,” Griffith said. “Our mission includes having a space for excellence where we teach a diverse group of students, staff and faculty.”
While the committee is making a recommendation on renaming the buildings, it is not currently tasked with any renaming responsibilities.
“We are not being asked to deliberate, in this committee and in this process, on new names or even temporary names,” Routh said. “The process of putting new names back on campus will and should be a very thoughtful process that is going to take a longer period of time, and that is a good thing.”
Committee member and 1979 graduate Michael Kennedy echoed Routh’s sentiment that renaming structures should be a detailed process.
“The University of North Carolina is the oldest public university in the country, and I think this is going to be an opportunity for us to really be thoughtful and take an approach to tell the story of UNC from 1795 until today,” Kennedy said. “I think we need to put all of the cards on the table and be very thoughtful, and not do it in an ad-hoc or piecemeal way.”
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