Removing Chapman's Problematic Busts

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There are a handful of busts displayed around Chapman University's campus that do not reflect the ideals of the University. In order to create a safer and more inclusive environment for Chapman's marginalized students and community, we feel the busts of Ronald Reagan, Albert Schweitzer, Margaret Thatcher, Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand need to be removed and replaced. During these times of reckoning with serious injustice in the U.S. we are asking for your support and for the Chapman Administration to hear our demands.

Attached below is the letter to the administration that will be sent to them once this petition has been shared enough. Within it are descriptions of our demands, cited research to back up our claims, and suggestions of alternative historical figures to be displayed as busts on campus.

 


Dear Chapman administration,

We as Panthers believe in order for Chapman to better serve its students of color (especially Black students), LGBTQ+ students and female students, it is necessary to take a critical look at the busts displayed around campus. We feel it is hypocritical as an institution to express support to your marginalized students yet allow for the continued presence of busts that invoke feelings of exclusion and oppression each day as they walk through campus. Along with the removal contributing to a more inclusive and welcome environment, taking down the busts would aid a predominately white institution’s efforts to diversify its student body and faculty. This is not a new debate; however, this is a critical time to take an important stance against disregarding problematic aspects of historical figures that harm people of color, LGBTQ+ people and women. The busts in question include Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Ayn Rand, Albert Schweitzer and Milton Friedman. Most importantly we feel the bust of Ronald Reagan should be taken down due to his stance against LGBTQ+ people and waging a war against Black and Brown people disguised as a “war on drugs”. Reagan's actions during his presidency fueled many aspects of systematic racism, such as mass incarceration and over-policing, and will continue to detrimentally affect the lives of Black and Brown people for generations, including students, faculty, and staff in the Chapman community. 

While some believe the removal of busts and statues equates to erasing history and hiding past mistakes, we believe their removal provides opportunity for deeper understanding and engagement in history. We believe the removal provides not only a display of allyship, but also a hopeful opportunity for educating students on the ways these historical figures abused their power to mistreat others. 

In the discussion of busts in Goal 3.E of the “Climate” for recommendations in Chapman’s Strategic plan for diversity and Inclusion, it states the university will “establish a committee to review the artwork, quotes, busts, and ideologies currently represented on campus and develop a list of diverse and inclusive works, ideologies, and artists that would enhance the diversity of identities and ideologies represented in the existing collection”. We seek to use Chapman’s provided path to review its busts for potential removal. Likewise, we have ideas regarding historical figures to replace them with: Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Harvey Milk, Nelson Mandela, Princess Diana, John Lewis, Cesar Chavez, James Baldwin and Dolores Huerta. We know that many of these busts were constructed after large donations from various donors and we would hope these donors would also take this time to understand the moral implications of keeping such monuments on our campus. Students have voiced opposition to the busts in question for over 5 years and Chapman still has not acted to meet their demands.

We appreciate your time and consideration. We encourage you to look at our petition filled with student signatures as you contemplate your decision. There is more information on each of these historical figures in question below.  Lastly, we hope this transforms into an opportunity to recognize our history and the ways certain historical figures have abused their power at the expense of marginalized groups. Thank you for your time and we look forward to any feedback.

 

Statues/busts to remove (in no particular order)

  • Ronald Reagan
    • Declared a war on drugs as a mask for mass incarceration and over policing of Black and Brown communities (13th)
    • Referred to people from African countries as ‘monkeys’ (Naftali)
    • Ignored the AIDS epidemic for much of his presidency while thousands of gay people died (Bennington-Castro)
  • Margaret Thatcher
    • Promoted Section 28 which was an anti gay measure that forced LGTBQ+ clubs and groups to disband and LGBTQ+ literature off the shelves. Made LGBTQ+ people feel like second class citizen(Labour Party)
    • Despised immigrants from other cultures (non white) as she feared they would change the culture of Britain (Todd)
  • Ayn Rand
    • Believed Indigenous people did not have the right to live in the country they are from because they act and live like “savages” (Oliver)
    • Looked down on LGTBQ+ people (Cummins)
    • Promoted traditional gender roles (Cummins)
  • Albert Schweitzer
    • Practiced a white savior complex and partook in a “benevolent racism” (Mazrui 97)
    • Believed those in Africa were beneath him and did not think they deserved education and equal medical treatment as white people
      • “His hospital was racially segregated- with a more comfortable unit for white people” (Mazrui 101)
    • “Referred to Africans as ‘Primitives’ and ‘savages’” (Mazrui 99)
  • Milton Friedman
    • Inferred that Free Market Conservatism would solve racism, which blindly disregards how entrenched racism is within our country and economy (Jackson)


Works Cited


“Ayn Rand- How Is This Still A Thing?: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO).” Youtube, uploaded by LastWeekTonight, 9 October 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8m8cQI4DgM 


Bennington-Castro, Joseph. “How AIDS Remained an Unspoken-But Deadly-Epidemic for Years.” History, https://www.history.com/news/aids-epidemic-ronald-reagan 


Cummins, Denise. “Column: This is what happens when you take Ayn Rand seriously.” PBS, 16 February 2016, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/economy/column-this-is-what-happens-when-you-take-ayn-rand-seriously


DuVernay, Ava, director. 13th. Forward Movement and Kandoo Films, 2016.


“Here’s what Section 28 was all about.” Youtube, uploaded by Labour Party, 28 February 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw8y6ufoaLY 

Jackson, John. “Milton Friedman’s Economic Racism.” Evonomics| The Next Evolution of Economics, 23 June 2019, https://evonomics.com/milton-friedmans-economic-racism/

“Margaret Thatcher was no poster girl for gay rights.” The Guardian, 10 April 2013, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/apr/10/margaret-thatcher-poster-girl-gay-rights

Mazrui, Ali A. “Dr. Schweitzer's Racism.” Transition, no. 53, 1991, pp. 96–102. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2935176  Accessed 30 July 2020.


Naftali, Tim. “Ronald Reagan’s Long-Hidden Racist Conversation With Richard Nixon.” The Atlantic, 20 July 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/07/ronald-reagans-racist-conversation-richard-nixon/595102/ 

"Strategic Plan For Diversity & Inclusion| 2017." Chapman.eduTodd, Matthew.

"Students bust out in statue dispute." The Panther. 4 October 2015

Todd, Matthew. “Margaret Thatcher was no poster girl for gay rights.” The Guardian, 10 April 2013, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/apr/10/margaret-thatcher-poster-girl-gay-rights