Rename Buildings Glorifying Slaveholders at Wofford College

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It is unacceptable for Wofford College to have dormitories on campus named after William May Wightman, Albert Micajah Shipp, and James Henry Carlisle who all owned enslaved people. It is disrespectful to force students to reside in buildings named after people who did not believe in the humanity of Black people. 

We demand that the names of these buildings be changed. We suggest the college honor three alumni of color: Albert Gray, Douglas Jones, and Janice B. Means. In September 1964, Albert Gray ‘71 became Wofford’s first African-American student. Doug Jones ‘69 was the first African-American to graduate from Wofford. Janice B. Means ‘73 was the first African-American woman to graduate from Wofford. 

The Wofford Anti-Racism Coalition included this demand on our statement, which was presented to President Nayef Samhat in June. In that meeting, we were told that renaming buildings is "not a priority" for Wofford. 

On July 9, partly responding to the student coalition’s demands, as well as content posted by hundreds of Wofford alums, former faculty and staff, and current students, faculty, and staff on the blackatwofford Instagram account, President Samhat released a comprehensive new diversity vision plan to address the history of racial tension at Wofford. The President’s plan, called A Vision for Wofford in the World, includes a list of action steps to help Wofford become “a diverse, welcoming, and inclusive home to all”. None of the items on the President’s plan includes renaming buildings named after former slave holders. 

In a follow-up meeting on July 15th with the entire President's Cabinet, the Coalition was informed in regards to renaming buildings that the new Steering Committee will “reflect on the history of the college”. Essentially, when we, as Wofford students, provide detailed suggestions for Wofford to take in support of Black, Indigenous, and Students of Color, we are met with resistance or a lack of gumption to provide commitments on simple yet powerful symbolic changes. 

Wofford's fellow South Carolina institutions of higher education, namely Furman University, Clemson University, and the University of South Carolina have all taken actionable steps to rename buildings of historical figures who opposed civil rights and or were owners of enslaved peoples. Wofford’s silence and inaction are deafening and we will stand for it no more. Will you help us?

Sincerely,

The Wofford Anti-Racism Coalition (coalitionwofford@gmail.com)