COLUMN: Naming with purpose


Ellen Dooley

Ellen Dooley, Columnist

Shakespeare was really onto something when he wrote the famous line “what’s in a name?”

In recent years, multiple schools across the country have been renamed due to controversial figures being rethought. A lot of these figures come from the Civil War era. As a society, we deem these people not as heroic as we were taught.  

As a future educator, this is a particularly important topic. When students come into a school named after someone, that person should be inspirational for all. Notice the emphasis on all. That person should have made a monumental positive impact, not a negative. Just because someone was famous or popular does not mean they are fit to name and represent a building.  

Younger generations seem to be leading this cause. As a part of a younger generation, I see the things people are doing to spark conversation and change. We are rethinking the information and ideals our teachers regurgitated to us because they had to or to fit curriculum requirements. When people decide to dedicate something in honor of someone, that someone should be honorable.  

As a person who identifies as a female, I look for things named after strong, influential women. Not just women, but those who made an actual impact and made change. Considering the Douglas Hall rename, I am proud of the fact that two influential women of color are honored. These are the people who should be inspiring for all people who attend EIU. 

In the public-school setting, there are so many different walks of life that may pass through the front doors. Those students deserve to see an honorable person that looks and comes from the same culture they do. They deserve to see what everyone is capable of doing and aspiring to be.

Renaming or primarily naming something is nothing to take lightly. When thinking about a certain person, it is increasingly important to dig into every dark corner to make sure that person is the right person.  

After all, these are the people who our students will be learning about. Why would we want our students to be inspired by a person who does not believe that all should be equal and supporting all walks of life? Why would we want a place of learning named after a person who enslaved other human beings and deprived them of education, none-the-less their life?  

There are many complications of renaming, but it is for the better. I would rather have spent the money and time to have a person who inspires and better fits a person of good character. Who cares if it is the so-called “cancel culture?” I would rather hold people responsible for their actions and morals, even if they have been dead for years.

This renaming may be a small step, but it is a small step to a more socially responsible society.  

Ellen Dooley is a Sophomore Special Education Standard Major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].