Naming Committee to meet Wednesday

John Wills, Staff Reporter

As Eastern continues to debate the controversial subject of whether to rename Douglas Hall, the University Naming Committee is preparing to gather student surveyal on the matter ahead of their meeting on Wednesday.

The committee will finalize their plans for upcoming forums for students, staff and faculty to gather public opinion on whether they support or do not support the renaming of the hall.

The committee feels this is the best way to make an adequate and informed decision on the matter.

The University Naming Committee acts as an advisory board to University President David Glassman. When a proposal for naming something on campus – be it a building, a room, or even a floor of a residence hall – the committee steps in to decide whether it’s a good idea. Committee members are instructed to be impartial and hear both sides of an argument before making a decision.

Glassman asked the committee this year to revisit the controversial Douglas Hall name for the third time in the last 11 years. The committee will offer a final recommendation to Glassman and his council about whether the name for Douglas Hall, named after Stephen Douglas, a pro-slavery American politician from the 1800s, should remain in place.

At their last meeting on March 3, the committee scheduled a series of upcoming forums at which the surveying will take place. Those on the committee agree that it is important to gather the consensus of those whose communities encompass Douglas Hall, so that the decision satisfies the parties most affected.

“These are particular student subgroups that we think will have a vested interest in weighing in or at least sharing their thoughts or giving the committee some feedback about the Douglas Hall name,” said Ken Wetstein at a meeting on January 20. Wetstein is the ex-officio convener of the committee.

The subgroups of students the committee will hear from are:

•Student Government, Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council (led by committee member Mona Davenport)

•Black Student Union, Latin American Student Organization and National Pan-hellenic Council (led by Davenport)

•Douglas Hall Council and Residence Hall Association (led by Wetstein)

Forums will also be hosted for the staff, the general student body and the local community.

Currently one for faculty is schedules for March 24 at 3 p.m.

The committee will also be reviewing the design of a survey about Douglas Hall that will be sent to every student, faculty and staff member. The survey will gather public opinion for the committee to consider before making their final recommendation. Students and faculty that are interested in sharing their thoughts on the matter can expect to receive an email with a link to the survey.

The decision that the Naming Committee provides is a recommendation only, and the President and his council can choose to override the ruling and proceed forward with an alternate decision if they so choose. Despite this, an override is statistically unlikely: in the past two attempts to rename Douglas Hall, in 2010 and 2017, both times the President respected the decision of the committee and did not vote to change the name.

 

John Wills can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]