Students protest University of Richmond’s decision to keep controversial names on buildings

Updated: Mar. 26, 2021 at 9:26 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Around 300 students and faculty staged a silent protest at the University of Richmond Friday afternoon.

They protested the school’s decision to leave the names of former school leaders on two campus buildings, despite their connections to slavery and segregation.

“We shouldn’t have to keep doing persuasion, there’s no more case to make we’ve made the case we have the people,” U of R Senior Kayla Corbin said. “The history they are talking about is in the past, but for me it’s in the present.”

The buildings are named after former rector and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Douglas Southall Freeman and former president Robert Ryland.

“They were slave owners and racists and in the case of Freeman a eugenicist,” psychology professor Jane Berry said. “Those names must come down from the building where our students learn and live and where we teach and do research and protect the students.”

In a statement, the school’s board of trustees says in part: “Removing building names is inconsistent with the pursuit of our educational mission.” Read the full statement here.

This protest stems from the decision the board made on March 17 to keep the names of the buildings despite calls from “the Coalition of Black Students” who say the names must be removed due to the racist history they represent and how they say it negatively impacts black students on campus.

Students protested as the board of trustees held their meeting in a white tent at the University’s quad area Friday afternoon as the board discussed whether they will go back on their decision to keep the names. Corbin says the University has already denied removing the names of the building twice. She hopes this time this presence of students and staff will finally change their minds.

“It’s really the board of trustees who are holding everything back so I know a lot of people out here are saying step aside or step down,” Corbin said.

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