The Daily Gamecock

Commission on University History approves criteria for changing building names on campus

<p>A door marks the entrance to the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center.</p>

A door marks the entrance to the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center.

The Presidential Commission on University History approved nine criteria to help decide what names should be removed from buildings and monuments on campus. 

Harris Pastides, president of the committee and former USC president, said not every criterion had to be met for a name to be considered for removal. 

“The criteria are not meant to be required to be unanimous in some way of, ‘Every criterion must be satisfied in order to vote one way or another on a name down the road.' Only about whether something like this can be or should be considered,” Pastides said. 

Pastides said if the criteria were adopted, the plan would be to go through the list of possible names to be changed in “serial fashion, apply these criteria, make a recommendation then to the commission as a whole, and it is the commission who would then vote on a recommendation to send forward to the president.” 

The nine criteria say namesakes may be subject to having their names removed from university buildings if their legacy “had the effect of oppressing groups of people based on their race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation,” or impeded the university's “mission of teaching, research and political engagement for all community members," Pastides said. 

One of the criteria approved by the committee referenced individuals who had “a significant level of evolution or moderation of namesake's behavior and/or views.” Some members of the commission worried this language was not specific enough.

“I'm curious as to what that looks like when we're talking about individuals who were human traffickers or enslavers or folks who didn’t believe people that look like me deserved to exercise their right to vote,” said Myisha Eatmon, assistant professor of African American History. 

The commission rejected a proposed 10th criteria that would give leeway to individuals who are perceived as having made up their past actions. 

Student Body Vice President Hannah White said she thinks some of the criteria is not specific enough. 

“If we could make our points as clear as possible to where the community can just read it once, understand everything clearly once, so that we’re on the same page, and then move forward from that. I think that would be much easier,” White said. 

White and Student Body President Issy Rushton issued a public statement earlier this week criticizing the lack of progress made by the Historical Commission in renaming campus buildings.

Now that the criteria for remaining buildings and monuments has been approved, Pastides said the commission can now move forward.

“These are never ... perfect in every way but I think we can all hold our heads high and go forward and get to the really hard work that's in front of us now,” Pastides said.