Naming Committee to meet Thursday

Corryn Brock, News Editor

Eastern’s Naming Committee will discuss the history of naming Douglas Hall and prior work of the committee during its meeting Thursday at 4:30 p.m.

Douglas Hall was opened to students on Sept. 8, 1952, along with Lincoln Hall.

The halls were named after the Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas Senate race debate that took place in September 1858 a few miles from what is no Eastern’s campus.

The Naming Committee has met three times over the last ten years to make a recommendation to the university president regarding the name change. Over the years, petitions have been created urging the hall be renamed however each time the name remained the same.

Over the summer a new petition was made that led to over 1,000 signatures supporting the name change, some people leaving comments regarding why they support a name change:

· “Eastern Illinois University’s mission statement states ‘The University community is committed to diversity and inclusion…’ However, EIU continues to have a building named after Stephen Douglas. Douglas debated Abraham Lincoln in Charleston in 1857, prompting two of the three buildings in this complex to be named after the two of them. However, during this debate in Charleston, Douglas made the comment: ‘I declare that a negro ought not to be a citizen… [based] upon the fact that he is a negro, belonging to a race incapable of self-government, and for that reason ought not to be in an equality with white men.’ To have an on-campus building named after a man who spoke vocally and aggressively against the Black community seems to be a slap in the face to the Black students who choose to make Eastern Illinois University their home away from home. There are countless historical figures who could take Douglas’ place as the namesake for the residence hall – ideally a figure from the Black community, or at the very least a figure who has shown support for the Black community.”

· “Both of my parents taught at EIU for decades. I earned an M. A. from EIU in History. To not change the name at this time is to be completely institutionally tone deaf. What possible reason could EIU have to continue to honor a racist and a slaveholder? What message does that send to the mostly young people that come to EIU? We cannot be proud to be part of the EIU alumni or community as long as Douglas Hall remains.”

· “One of the reasons I’ve chosen to attend EIU is because I believed it to be more inclusive and toward thinking than the town I’m from. Put your money where your mouth is and actually take action to include and listen to others voices.”

Arguments against the name change include the campus community being used to the current name, the historical significance of the name and some people feeling a name change won’t make a difference.

During the meeting the committee will also discuss methods of soliciting feedback from constituents and how to collect and maintain storage of said feedback, as well as planning the upcoming meetings.

An update will also be given by University President David Glassman.

Those interested in giving public comment can do so by contacting Ken Wetstein, Vice President for University Advancement and the committee’s ex officio convener, at 2175815129 or at [email protected]

 

Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]