Outrage Grows Over Local Buildings Named After Slave Owners
Many in the Hudson Valley believe a number of buildings should be renamed because their current name honors slave owners.
In early 2018, SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian started a dialogue regarding the names of the Hasbrouck Dining Hall and residence halls at the college.
These buildings were named after the first European settlers in New Paltz who owned slaves.
"Some view these building names as perpetuating the legacy of slavery, and I am aware that some students, particularly students of color, have expressed their discomfort about living in halls with these names. These issues have not been addressed fully and openly by our community to ensure that the visible symbolism of building names is culturally consistent with our values. Now is the right time to do so, when our nation is engaged in discourse about removing Confederate statues or changing building names that commemorate or memorialize the era of slavery in America. This is also a time that we are embarking on a series of diversity and inclusion goals to make SUNY New Paltz an even better place to learn, work, and live," Christian said while opening the dialogue.
Christian asked the SUNY New Paltz Diversity and Inclusion Council to research the names and report back with recommendations by April 2018.
Following what's described as "extensive research, data review, and conversations with students, faculty, staff, community members, representatives of Historic Huguenot Street, descendants of Huguenot families, and alumni," the Diversity and Inclusion Council ruled the Hasbrouck Complex buildings should be renamed, according to a college report on the renaming obtained by Hudson Valley Post.
The decision was widely supported, but was not a unanimous decision, the report says.
While the SUNY New Paltz Diversity and Inclusion Council recommended a name change there was talk about figuring out how to not "erase history."
"There was also consensus that SUNY New Paltz’s mission as an educational institution places upon us a duty to give expression to previously marginalized histories, to approach history through a lens of critical inquiry, and to understand our past in all its rich diversity without simply replacing one history with another," the report stated.
In November 2018, the SUNY New Paltz College Council voted to postpone a resolution on renaming campus buildings until the spring semester. Some member of the council wanted more time to consider the name change.
A meeting is being held on campus to discuss the issues on Thursday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Student Union Multipurpose Room.
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