Student Government, IFC, PHC represented in forum

Luke Taylor, Associate News Editor

Eastern’s Naming Committee held a forum Tuesday afternoon for students affiliated with Greek Life and Student Government to give input on whether to rename Douglas Hall.

Mona Davenport, a member of the naming committee, opened the forum by sharing a presentation on the history of the hall’s name and the Naming Committee’s previous decisions about it.

Carlos Amaya and Ken Wetstein also attended the forum to represent the committee.

Skylar Coffey, a grad student studying political science and the vice president of student affairs, said that this would be a step toward progress from the university.

“In my opinion, I really think that renaming Douglas Hall is the best move to do, and I think it is the right timing,” Coffey said. “With everything that’s going on, I think right now is the perfect time to be having these discussions and being able to discuss how our campus should be moving forward in a positive way.”

Eric Hunter, a junior accounting major and IFC president, said that keeping the building’s name would be recognizing parts of history that don’t deserve recognition.

“I know the school has history, but as far as that history is really negative- I don’t want minorities to come to the school and learn about that history and think, ‘Oh, this is a bad school,’” Hunter said. “I just want Eastern to be seen as a positive school so if we have something that is recognizing negativity, we have to change it.”

Michael Perri, senior political science major and executive vice president of Student Government, said that recognizing history is valuable, but that the building name is the wrong way to do it.

“I think all of us understand the importance of the two halls being named Lincoln and Douglas as Charleston was one of the seven places where the debates were held, and obviously there should be something to recognize that part of history,” Perri said. “But I don’t think naming a residence hall after it is the move. We’re not here to debate what it should be named instead, but if it is causing distress to students on campus, then it is best to change it. Just change it to something not controversial at all.”

Justin Richards, a senior digital technology major and student vice president of Academic Affairs, encouraged the Naming Committee to suggest a name change in order to follow Eastern’s mission statement.

“Changing the hall name is just common sense. The last thing that any of us want to do is make someone feel uncomfortable or unwelcome,” Richards said. “EIU has the phrase ‘All In.’ We’re told EIU is all in. That should be reflected in all of our building names. Like, okay, what contribution has this person made to our history? We shouldn’t be promoting anyone who has negatively affected any population.”

Karen Gonski, junior psychology major and president of the Panhellenic Council, said that changing the name would help Eastern to be more inclusive.

“I think it’s really important that our students feel included. We’ve made some really good efforts on campus even within the last year to make everyone feel comfortable,” Gonski said. “If this is something that can make our population feel that Eastern is all in for them, then that’s something that we should promote and we should love.”

Megan Morecraft, a sophomore hospitality entrepreneurship major and vice president of member development for Panhellenic Council, said that the Naming Committee shouldn’t be concerned about backlash from the Charleston community.

“Speaking as somebody who has lived in Charleston, I don’t think many people would care if the hall was renamed,” Morecraft said. “There’s already something at the fairground to commemorate the debates.”

Subodh Khanal, a sophomore mathematics and economics major and student senator, said that changing the name could encourage future progress as well.

“I think changing the name will set a precedent forward so that EIU will be more inclusive and more progressive moving forward,” Khanal said.

 

Luke Taylor can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]