The recent name change of Middleton Library, which was approved by the Board of Supervisors Friday, has led many students to advocate for the renaming of 11 other buildings on campus named after Confederate officers, segregationists and Louisiana governors with a history of exclusionary policies.
The students at Democracy at Work LSU created a petition to rename the other 11 buildings. Bioengineering and math senior Soheil Saneei said that Exquisite Williams’ petition is what inspired the fight for change.
The petition currently has over 3,000 signatures. Their goal is not only to get the names changed with petition, but also to start a larger conversation, according to philosophy, political science and sociology senior Sebastian Brumfield Mejia.
“We are trying to start an initiative to actually systemically change things as well, [and] to really generate a conversation about that we really have to generate a conversation about these buildings,” Brumfield Mejia said.
Brumfield Mejia hopes that renaming the buildings will be a catalyst for further activism.
“We hope that by making these twelve symbolic changes we can begin to broaden the conversation about anti-racist structural changes on campus beyond just Middleton,” Brumfield Mejia said. “And then hopefully transition the conversation from symbolic changes to actual material changes that will affect Black students and faculty workers on campus.”
Democracy at Work LSU put together research to present to the Board of Supervisors as well as a list of new building name suggestions. Many of the suggestions include prestigious Black University graduates, such as the first Black woman to graduate from LSU, Pearl Henry Payne, and the first Black LSU Law School graduate, Ernest N. “Dutch” Morial.
The group also emphasized LSU’s policy to name a building. University policy states the person must have significant ties to the University or be of outstanding character. Several of the 11 buildings are named after individuals with no known connection to the University, such as Jackson Hall, named after President Andrew Jackson, and Beauregard Hall, named after Confederate General PGT Beauregard.
It has come to our attention, through our continual research with @BatonRougefor , that there are 5 more building names that we believe should be renamed immediately. Through the power of the student body of LSU we believe it inevitable that all of these names will be changed. ✊ pic.twitter.com/dp50QXxkXm— LSU College Dems (@LSUCollegeDems) June 9, 2020
Brumfield Mejia said that if the Board of Supervisors demonstrates it is not ready to make the changes, the group will ask for students to be ready to organize protests in the fall semester.
Democracy at Work LSU is committed to promote change and help students reflect on what is happening in their daily lives that needs to be improved.
“We want to talk about the structures that exist,” Saneei said. “How do they manifest in our daily lives? That’s what we need to focus on.”