The UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees voted to remove the names white supremacists from four campus buildings Wednesday in a special meeting. The decision is the first made after the 15-year moratorium on renaming campus buildings was lifted in June.
Aycock Residence Hall, Carr Building, and Daniels Building will each be renamed. Ruffin Residence Hall, which is named after Thomas Ruffin Sr. and Jr., will only have the elder Ruffin’s name taken off.
“I support the removal of the names Josephus Daniels, Charles B. Aycock, Julian S. Carr, and Thomas Ruffin from buildings on our campus, and I do so not with a view towards erasing history,” Trustee Gene Davis said in the meeting. “Rather, with a view towards the arc of the moral university bending a bit more towards justice.”
Each building namesake either owned enslaved people or advocated for white supremacy and “Southern rights.” The four names were selected by the university’s Commission on History, Race & A Way Forward, which was created by Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz in 2019.
The four name removals were voted on individually and each passed 11-2. Trustees Allie Ray McCullen and John Preyer were the only dissenting votes each time. Aside from the Ruffin Building, the Daniels Building was called into question by Preyer, as the student stores are no longer called “Daniels Student Stores,” but are still housed in the Daniels Building. He also said he believed the building was named after the family, as they asked the name be removed.
Secretary Teresa Artis Neal said that that could not have happened, since the name change had not been presented to the Board of Trustees.
McCullen, meanwhile, had some interesting things to say about the renaming process, using some mental gymnastics to get around the fact that Aycock’s family owned over a dozen enslaved people, or that Aycock participated in a Democratic campaign that focused on pitting white supremacists against anyone who dared to consider allowing Black people in the state legislature.
“It would be helpful in the future for the committee investigating the people these buildings were named after to have somebody who may have some remote understanding of agriculture,” he told the committee. “I was reading about Charles B. Aycock’s parents, and it said ‘they were made prosperous by the labor of 13 enslaved men, women, and children who cultivated 1,000 acres.’ That’s not practical. If they had had machinery then, and they’d all been adults, maybe, but this is very misleading.”
Each of the four buildings will have an “interim name” until a new dedication is decided upon. The names are generic, like “Student Stores Building” and “Residence Hall 1 in Lower Quad.” There’s no word on when the new names will be selected.
There was also no motion brought to formally rename Hamilton Hall to Pauli Murray Hall, despite the name change being proposed by the departments housed there.
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