This letter was submitted by members of the Committee on Latinx Recruitment and Retention.
The Committee on Latinx Recruitment and Retention wholeheartedly agrees with the History Department’s January 28 letter calling for the renaming of Douglas Hall.
Douglas Hall and its twin Lincoln Hall dominate the campus skyline. The view of the identical towers together communicates to visitors that we at Eastern equally value Douglas’s and Lincoln’s messages. We do not. As we all learn in high school, the pro-slavery views that Stephen Douglas argued in the Lincoln-Douglas debate series ultimately lost. We commemorate national heroes like Abraham Lincoln with buildings. We relegate losers like Stephen Douglas to the paper of textbook pages and tourist pamphlets.
As a solution, the members of the Committee on Latinx Recruitment and Retention encourage the Naming Committee to honor two civil rights leaders and labor activists by changing the names of both buildings to “Dolores Huerta Hall” and “César Chávez Hall.” This institutional celebration of two national heroes would show the 18.4% of Illinoisans that identify as Latino or Hispanic that EIU shares their values and honors their heritage. Future Latinx Panthers would have good reason to see a home away from home on Eastern’s campus.
The Naming Committee up to now has declined to endorse straightforward solutions such as adding an “-s” to form “Douglass” and honor Black American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, or renaming the building “Debate Hall” to recognize the historical importance of the debate for Charleston. Regardless, our official commemoration of Stephen Douglas has got to go. As statues of Confederates and enslavers continue to fall across the country, current and future students watch as we decide which historical figures we choose to represent Eastern’s values.
Members of the Latinx Recruitment and Retention Committee
-Olivia E. Amaya Lemus