UNC-Chapel Hill students and faculty wanting to change the name of a campus building or space will need to do their homework.

On Thursday, the UNC Board of Trustees approved a policy for renaming university buildings and public spaces. The change comes a month after the board lifted the 15-year moratorium on renaming campus buildings. 

After some discussion and a few amendments, the policy was approved 12-1. John Preyer was the only dissenting vote.

In order to request a name change, applicants will have to file a report to Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, who gets to decide if the proposition has “merit,” instead of if it seems likely to pass. After that, the board will take a vote on the change. 

“In this moment of the history of our university, our state, and our nation, I believe we are called to be a light that shines in the dark corners, where racism has festered for far too long,” Trustee Gene Davis said in the presentation Thursday. 

The first name changes to be considered are the ones suggested by the university’s Commission on History, Race & A Way Forward. Daniels Building, Carr Building, Ruffin Residence Hall, and Aycock Residence Hall could all be discussed with Guskiewicz as early as next week.

The policy includes descriptions of what makes the report on the building and its namesake more compelling, and what weakens it. An argument is strengthened if the building’s namesake committed acts that were illegal during their lifetime, or if these acts or beliefs were “central to a namesake’s career, public persona, or life as a whole.” 

The person’s time period is also a factor: a renaming argument is weakened if their ideas were considered “conventional at its time, and other aspects of the namesake’s life and work are especially noteworthy to the University or greater community.” Officials will also take into account if the person’s philosophies evolved over the course of their lifetime.

Presumably, this will affect the process of renaming buildings named after slaveowners, or ones where the person was alive before the Civil Rights Act passed.

Later on in the meeting, Trustee Charles G. Duckett took issue with the name renaming requests have been brought up, specifically after protesters from outside the university recently demanded UNC’s mascot be changed from a “Tar Heel” to a “Ram” due to the term’s racist undertones.

Duckett asked those with requests to “please come to us in an educated fashion, not just demanding.”

“If I can take the time out of a busy life and do the things we do and commit to this place, they can take the time to educate on what the real facts are,” Duckett said. “Not what Twitter says and not what Skimm or something gives them one time in the morning. It does not take that much time.”

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