Over the summer, the Chancellor's Committee to Review History Commission Resolution met four times to discuss the progress of its report on removing 10 campus building names with white supremacist ties.
From May to June, the committee discussed the removal of the names of the following campus buildings: Pettigrew, Ruffin Jr., Bingham, Grimes, Graham, Morrison, Vance and Hamilton.
Chancellor's committee explained
This ad hoc committee was convened by Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz after the Board of Trustees approved a policy for the removal of names on university buildings and public spaces, according to the committee’s first meeting on Oct. 19, 2021.
The committee was charged with submitting their recommendations based on the University Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward's April 2021 report to Guskiewicz, who would then consider it in concordance with the BOT policy.
As of now, the Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward recommended that the following 13 building names be removed from campus: Avery, Aycock, Carr, Battle, Bingham, Daniels, Graham, Grimes, Hamilton, Morrison, Pettigrew, Ruffin and Vance.
“We believe these names warrant immediate action,” the recommendation from the HRWF commission read.
Dossiers containing historical context and specific reasons for removal can be found on the commission’s website.
Takeaways from summer committee meetings
This year in the committee's May 5 meeting, Chairperson Mike Smith said that the Chancellor’s Committee to Review History Commission Resolution's goal was to get its report draft to Guskiewicz by July 1 so that he would have time to review it before the BOT meeting in late July, where it would be considered.
However, the committee still has not finalized its report.
In its most recent meeting on June 20, Smith said the committee plans to meet again to finish its discussion of Ruffin Jr. Residence Hall and begin discussing the recommendation for the removal of Battle Hall.
In the May 25 Chancellor’s committee meeting, committee members considered additional vetting processes for the removal of names.
According to Smith, there could be a possibility of reaching out to historians and experts on the history of the south and peer-reviewing the individual dossiers.
“I want to best equip our chancellor to be able to convince the Board of Trustees to take whatever action he’s recommending,” UNC Trustee Ralph W. Meekins Sr. said.
Smith also pointed out a difficulty in recommendation decisions, which is that there are often information gaps in the individuals' histories due to a lack of historical evidence.
On June 11, the Residence Hall Renaming Committee, which consists of a group of Residence Hall Association student leaders, residents and Carolina Housing staff, released a survey report that analyzed the implications of residence hall names for UNC students.
The report garnered 1,303 responses — 1,200 of whom were on-campus residents.
The report concluded that "an overwhelming number of students are in favor of renaming residence halls whose names are connected to slavery, the Confederacy or upholding white supremacy."
It explained that many students were in favor of the removal because of the negative impacts they personally experienced and empathy for their fellow students who are negatively impacted by the residence hall names. The report also stated that students of color are disproportionately negatively impacted by the hall names.
The Chancellor's Committee to Review History Commission Resolution had a meeting scheduled for July 20 to continue to discuss the report it will submit to the chancellor, but the meeting was canceled.
James Leloudis, who is a co-chairperson of the HRWF Commission, said the BOT will respond to the removal of the 10 names most likely in the fall.
According to UNC Media Relations, there is no formal timetable for a final decision.
In an email statement, Guskiewicz said that the committee's goal is to provide its recommendations on the possible removal of building names to him by mid-August.
"After thoroughly reviewing their report, I will work alongside our Board of Trustees to consider the recommendations," he said in an email statement. "I remain optimistic that we will have an opportunity to put names on buildings and landscapes that honor individuals who represent the shared values of our local and campus community."
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