The University of Melbourne must rename all buildings associated with eugenics

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Eugenics was a popular idea amongst the intellectual elite at the beginning of the 20th century all over the world. Proponents believed in improving the human race by preventing people with "bad genes" from reproducing. In many countries, including the United States, Sweden, and Australia, this resulted in the forced sterilisation of many groups of people who were judged to have so-called inferior traits, such as gay people, people with disabilities, people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, women who were judged to be sexually promiscuous, and people from certain ethnic backgrounds. This ultimately culminated in Nazi Germany's belief in racial superiority and the Holocaust.  In Australia, proponents wanted to sterilise "homosexuals, prostitutes, alcoholics, as well as those with small heads and with low IQs. The Aboriginal population was also seen to fall within this group". ( )

Eugenic theory ultimately informed the policies that lead to the Stolen Generation of Indigenous Australians.

In 2017 The University of Melbourne renamed the Richard Berry building, but chose not to rename several other buildings named after proponents of eugenics. Buildings and rooms named after eugenicists include:

The Baldwin Spencer Building, the two John Medley buildings, and the Agar lecture theatre. I am calling on the university to rename these buildings, and conduct an audit to identify any other buildings or rooms named after eugenicists.

By continuing to honour these men who supported eugenics and forced sterilisation, it is clear where the university's values lie. The university values honouring these men over supporting wellbeing of the Indigenous, female, gay, Jewish, or disabled staff and students on campus. Renaming the buildings send a clear message that the University does not condone or support the racist history of these men. Although these men may have been influential in the past, times have changed and these people do not deserve to continue to be honoured.

For more information:

Wyndham, Diana (2003). Eugenics in Australia: Striving for national fitness. London: Galton Institute.