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Undergraduate Senate unanimously votes to pass new campus building renaming bill

DTH file. The Old Well is pictured on Sept. 12, 2020.

The University's Undergraduate Senate unanimously voted to pass a concurrent resolution demanding that UNC remove the names of white supremacists, confederates and slave owners from all University buildings during its meeting on June 28.

The resolution, first introduced by Joint Senate Member-at-Large Maddox Addy, includes a statement that will be sent to 20 prominent figures in state government including Gov. Roy Cooper, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and North Carolina General Assembly House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland. 

The Undergraduate Senate will also send it to leaders within the UNC System, including Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, Board of Trustees Chair David Boliek Jr. and UNC System President Peter Hans. 

The resolution was first presented in a May 31 Senate meeting, but after opposition from other Senate members who cited a lack of research, the resolution failed to pass.

“I initially wanted to write this bill to support those that had been deputized by the University to kind of reckon with UNC’s past, because it is something that many students feel strongly about, and I wanted to support those student voices and support those that were doing the work,” Addy said. 

Addy spent the last month creating a research appendix for his revised resolution. 

“I ended up writing a new resolution that was 49 pages in length with about 183 citations that very thoroughly went through each individual name, and thoroughly researched each of these individuals,” Addy said. 

The updated resolution calls for the renaming of 32 University buildings and requests immediate action on the process of building renaming. 

The bill states that there are still “​​dozens of buildings and locations on this campus that are commemorated to individuals who actively worked against justice and equity for those living in America.” 

The Undergraduate Senate has passed similar resolutions on building renaming since the Board of Trustees lifted a 16-year moratorium that prohibited renaming buildings, monuments and memorials on campus in 2020. 

“In the 102nd Senate, two years ago, did a resolution that was similar to this, essentially calling on the university to rename some list of buildings, similar but not identical to the list,” Andrew Richards, former finance chair for the Undergraduate Senate, said.

Since the moratorium was lifted, four names have been removed from campus buildings, including Aycock Residence Hall and the Carr Building, which were recently renamed after Hortense McClinton and Henry Owl, two prominent members of the UNC community. 

“I think honoring UNC in its modern state is something that I feel very strongly about, and I really do love this school, so I only want it to be represented in the best way for all students,” Addy said.

After the resolution did not pass during the meeting on May 31, Addy invited members of the Black Student Movement and general student activists to the Senate meeting on June 28, where many students voiced their concerns during the public comment period. 

“That's probably the most student involvement I've ever seen and of course, it's always amazing to hear from our constituents and learn from them,” Callie Stevens, ethics chair of the Undergraduate Senate, said.

During the meeting, senators agreed to extend the public comment period twice, allowing students to voice their opinions on the bill for over an hour. Addy believes the bill was able to pass unanimously because of the many students that came out and showed their support. 

“I am incredibly thankful for those that are sharing their voices at UNC, speaking up on this issue and letting themselves be heard,” Addy said. 

During the meeting, the Senate also unanimously passed other resolutions, including a bill that commemorated Pride Month and called on the University to support LGBTQ+ students. 

This bill was also introduced by Addy and called on University leadership to “secure the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.” 

The Senate also confirmed the Executive Cabinet of the Vann administration and approved budgets for the Executive Branch and Student Supreme Court. The Senate will meet for its next monthly meeting on Tuesday, July 26. 


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