Faculty senate votes to ask Glassman to restaff naming committee

Brooke Schwartz, Admistration Reporter

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A resolution to urge Eastern President David Glassman to re-staff a naming committee to discuss changing Douglas Hall’s name was passed at the Faculty Senate meeting Tuesday.

The resolution passed 12 to one, plus one abstention.

The semester-long debate has spanned outside the campus and into the community. The name change that the Faculty Senate recommended to the potential naming committee is to change Lincoln and Douglas Hall to the “Lincoln/Douglas Debate Hall East” and the “Lincoln/Douglas Debate Hall West,” or just changing Douglas Hall to the “Lincoln/Douglas Debate Hall.”

The one vote against the resolution came from philosophy professor Grant Sterling.

“If our objection is that people will mistakenly believe that Douglas Hall was named to honor and commemorate Stephan A. Douglas, then presumably we also have to recognize that people might mistakenly think that Lincoln Hall is named to honor and commemorate Abraham Lincoln, and so we the senate would be saying that Abraham Lincoln is not worthy of having a hall named after him,” Sterling said.

Some other concerns from Sterling, Glassman and others was the need for a clear objective for changing the name and the way the senate was going about doing it.

Despite these objections, the majority of the senate voted in favor of the resolution.

The goal, as stated by the resolution, is to change the names of Douglas, and potentially Lincoln Halls to better reflect the debate they were named after and less the personal beliefs that the individuals themselves held.

Glassman joined the meeting for the first half and offered his inputs on the name change.

Although he personally thought a plaque at both buildings that explained the importance of the Lincoln/Douglas debate would be enough, Glassman agreed that talking about inclusion and diversity on campus is important.

“I’m taking up this debate, because we’re talking about inclusion and the importance of living together and respecting all backgrounds and all people,” Glassman said.

The resolution also mentioned the nationwide debates, such as ones discussing whether or not to remove Confederate monuments, that are happening all over the country.

“We find that it is important we engage in our own conversation as a united campus community to determine, reassert and define our values,” the resolution states.

Both Glassman and the senate mentioned the bigger issue surrounding the Douglas Hall debate — the issue of how to better include minorities on campus.

Glassman was concerned that changing one hall’s name might not be enough to make students feel comfortable, on or off campus.

“I worry about, that’s just our university in our city,” Glassman said. “We’ve got Douglas County of course, we’ve got Washington Avenues, we’ve got slaveholders and racists all across America, and I want to use (Douglas Hall name) more as an educational tool and a dialogue tool, to get people talking.”

As well as the name change debate, the senate and Glassman also talked about reviewing Workgroups No. 8 and 9, which both looked at academic visioning, from last year’s vitalization project.

Glassman said the information dealt with in Workgroups No. 8 and 9 would be better decided between department chairs and faculty, not solely by him.

He said that the information was all over the place, and sorting through it by himself would have not been effective.

“(Workgroup No. 8 and 9’s recommendations) are all over the place, from three-day work weeks, students working on campus instead of some other staff members, to having this program in electrical engineering,” Glassman said. “It is very broad-based, and when I take a look at that, I go, well somehow, we’ve got to try and find a device in which we find out which really will fit us.”

Appointing faculty to the committee that will review Workgroups No. 8 and 9 have been pushed off until the next meeting, when Faculty Senate members will have more information on their time commitments.

Brooke Schwartz can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]