Middleton Library

Middleton Library sits in the Quad on Friday, November 15, 2019.

Whether students are studying for an exam or getting a coffee and doing homework between classes, Middleton Library is one of the most frequented places on campus. 

Its namesake, former LSU president and World War I veteran Troy Middleton, was a known segregationist. 

Black student leaders have long been advocating for the library’s name change, and it was announced on June 10 that the administration would grant their request, pending board approval. The LSU Board of Supervisors will meet June 19 for the official vote. 

BlackOut LSU organizer Gideon Adeyemo said it is important to ensure University resources are equitable and comfortable for all students. 

“That was very, very impactful for us, getting this name changed, because we have been seeing a lot of words, a lot of statements thrown out by our university, and the students are needing action,” Adeyemo said. “We are needing change. This is one of the very first actionable things that could happen on this campus.”

This change is just a gateway to many other changes on the campus. The goal is to eventually rename all the buildings on campus named after Confederates and segregationists to better represent the type of history students want to create on the campus.

“We presented the University with six main goals and one of them stemmed from the University openly denouncing blatant racism and discriminatory policies and institutions around this campus,” Adeyemo said. “That part of our platform really took shape with renaming all the different buildings on campus with names that have suggestive histories.”

Other goals included increasing funding for minority programs and departments, increasing minority professionals among all academic disciplines, organizing mental health resources for minority students and faculty, correcting issues of blatant racism and discrimination on campus and appointing black student representatives to participate in administrative conversations affecting the student body. 

The petition to rename the library was made by LSU students Exquisite Williams, Kendall Diiulio and Calvin Morris. Adeyemo said the petition was helpful when presenting the reasons behind the name change to University administration. 

“Hearing all these voices that she gave a platform to really helped our efforts,” Adeyemo said. “A lot of different individuals from all across our campus [and] across our community came together and started working on this and now it became something we could never imagine it could be.”

The original petition now has over 13,000 signatures. It also expresses the students’ desire to see the library renamed after Pinkie Gordon Lane, who was the University's first black female Ph.D. graduate. Another petition to rename all 12 buildings named after Confederates and segregationists has garnered over 1,500 signatures. 

The students decided to make the petition after a tweet by Williams took off criticizing the name of the library.

“I think it's important that a lot of people realize that the naming of things cements a legacy, and if you don’t understand the history of that legacy you don’t understand what it entails,” Williams said. “You can’t have a campus that’s filling up with black students and votes diversity while still having buildings with names that never wanted that diversity to exist.”

Mass communication sophomore Melissa Kim decided to share the petition when she saw it and started learning more about Middleton’s history.

“Whether or not we actively pay attention to the names of the buildings we are attending, leaving problematic legacies on buildings for our generation and future generations to utilize directly goes against any progressive movements,” Kim said.

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