Rename Presidents Park dorm halls at GMU

Rename Presidents Park dorm halls at GMU

July 1, 2020
Signatures: 72Next Goal: 100
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Why this petition matters

Started by gg gizachew

            George Mason University became an independent institution in the year 1972. This is fairly recent compared to other institutions, yet the school and several buildings are still named after racist figures, evoking a racist past. 

            GMU boasts the motto of “Freedom and Learning” in spite of the racial undertone associated with the school. Men such as Andrew Jackson and Thomas Jefferson built and expanded their wealth from the enslavement of African Americans, yet their names are glorified on dorm buildings. Therefore the question remains, how can a school be built on these foundations while continuing to praise men with the ideology that all men are not created equal? GMU praises itself on the diversity of the staff and student body despite the countless buildings named after men who DO NOT support diversity and inclusion. 

            We, students from all races, ethnicities, religions, and more demand GMU to change the names of buildings on campus that are named after men with clear racist backgrounds. GMU has a duty to uphold the “Mason Vision” which clearly states “… our unique institutional strengths, reminds us that we are committed to be a university for the world, drawn together to work across cultures, bringing new perspectives and solutions to the world’s most pressing problems and preparing our students to navigate in it.” 

            The countless murders of Black men, women, and children has shed light to the systemic racism that this country has spent centuries ingraining into the US. It is our duty to: educate ourselves, remain accountable for our shortcomings through conscious and unconscious bias, and demand institutions to be held accountable as well.

            On June 1, 2020 the Office of the President at GMU sent an email in response to the murder of George Floyd that said, “Where we have services and expertise to offer a hurting, grieving community we will step up – to the Mason community, to northern Virginia, to the national capital region, and beyond.” Earlier in the email James Baldwin was quoted, “I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.” Do it then. 

            We demand Mason to be held accountable of their own words and rename the dorm halls in Presidents Park, as the people who they are named after do not align with the beliefs, ideologies, and actions of our diverse community. We demand change now. 

The following buildings were named after men who were active and willing participants in forcing African-Americans into industrial and sexual servitude, subjecting them to brutal terrorism. 

Located in Presidents Park: 

Harrison Hall: (William Henry Harrison) - slave owner, tried to expand slavery into other states 

Jackson Hall: (Andrew Jackson) -  known slave owner AND slave trader

Jefferson Hall: (Thomas Jefferson) - enslaved more than 600+, contributed to sex trafficking as he raped enslaved Sally Hemings and “fathered” children

Madison Hall: (James Madison) - proposed Three-Fifths compromise (viewed Black bodies as property), known slave owner

Monroe Hall: (James Monroe) - slave owner

Taylor: (Zachary Taylor) - slave owner

            Possible solutions may include changing Presidents Park to names of other Virginia locations or counties, like the other dorm halls located around campus. It is important to exclude naming dorms after locations with indigenous/native county ties, as this school, this country was built on stolen land. Another possible solution may be to rename the dorm halls after other leaders and figures that embody our diverse community and don’t exude detrimental behaviors. 


Gilana Gizachew 

Tatiana Molina         

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