Repeal the 16 Year Freeze on Renaming Campus Buildings at UNC-Chapel Hill

Repeal the 16 Year Freeze on Renaming Campus Buildings at UNC-Chapel Hill

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Michael Galloway
Michael Galloway signed this petition

UNC Building Name Change Petition

In 1922, UNC-Chapel Hill dedicated a building to William Saunders, a known White supremacist, member of the Confederate Army, and leader of the North Carolina KKK. In 2015, the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees was pressured by student activists to change the building’s name to Hurston Hall. Instead, the Board chose the nondescript name, “Carolina Hall.”

At the very same meeting where the Board of Trustees renamed “Saunders Hall,” the board put in place a 16-year moratorium, or ban, on the renaming of other campus buildings, monuments, and landscapes.

This ban is supposed to stand until 2031. 

There are 40+ buildings, monuments, and landscapes on UNC’s campus dedicated to individuals who either owned and profited off of enslaved people or actively advocated for white supremacy at UNC. 

Many of these buildings were not dedicated at the end of the Civil War, but rather decades later to make Black and Brown people feel unwelcome on campus; to terrorize them. Many of these dedications occurred in the 1920s and 1960s, two periods in US history that witnessed an intense rise in white supremacy: Jim Crow and the New Right, respectively.

The building names had and have a purpose on our campus. They enact, enforce, and honor white supremacy. This is precisely why the Board of Trustees forced a re-naming moratorium after the Real Silent Sam Coalition’s important victory in renaming Saunders Hall at UNC. The names of our buildings, like any statue on our campus, should represent who we are and who we want to be. This petition demands that the University change the names of buildings dedicated to white supremacists. This can be the beginning of the university choosing to protect its students, faculty, employees, and all North Carolinians before honoring a history rooted in racist hate. 

The UNC Board of Trustees ultimately must approve any changes to building names. Membership on the Board of Trustees has changed since the 2015 decision to place the moratorium. Two-thirds of the current trustees were not involved in the decision to enact a freeze on naming of campus landmarks. 

We, the people of UNC-Chapel Hill, have a list of demands that will make UNC-Chapel Hill a more safe and equitable environment for everyone who enters UNC virtually or in person. 

1. We demand that the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees remove the 16-year moratorium on renaming campus buildings, monuments, and landscapes. 

2. We demand that the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees add a plaque to Kenan Football Stadium that properly contextualizes that the Kenan family fortune was amassed through plantation-based slavery.

3. We demand that the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees rename Alderman Residence Hall, Avery Residence Hall, Aycock Residence Hall, Battle Hall, Bingham Hall, Bynum Hall, Caldwell Hall, Carr Building, Daniels Student Stores, Craige Residence Hall, Davie Hall, Gerrard Hall, Graham Residence Hall, Hamilton Hall, Hinton James Residence Hall, Joyner Residence Hall, Kenan Stadium, Lenoir Hall, Lewis Residence Hall, Mangum Residence Hall, Manly Residence Hall, Manning Hall, McIver Residence Hall, Mitchell Hall, Morrison Residence Hall, Murphey Hall, Parker Residence Hall, Person Hall, Pettigrew Hall, Phillips Hall, Phillips Annex, Polk Place, Ruffin Residence Hall, Spencer Residence Hall, Steele Hall, Swain Hall, Vance Hall, Venable Hall, Winston Residence Hall, and rededicate any other similarly associated campus landmarks including Playmakers Theatre and the Jefferson Davis highway sign off of Franklin Street, as all are named in remembrance of individuals who had direct ties to slavery and white supremacy
 

We offer a few names to begin to replace these hateful dedications. The following UNC students, staff, and faculty are truly to be admired and we would be proud to have their names on our public university’s buildings: Mary Smith and Elizabeth Brooks, Howard Lee, Karen Parker, Zora Neale Hurston, and Perry Hall.