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Michigan State considers eliminating James Madison’s name from dorm

Michigan State University is considering renaming a residential college honoring the country’s fourth president in order to “advance racial equity.”

In a letter addressed to James Madison residents regarding “commitments and actions,” Interim Dean Linda Racioppi and Assistant Dean Jeff Judge wrote that following summer break, they “plan to engage in reconsideration of the name of the College.”

“[This] will need to incorporate the perspectives of students, staff, faculty, and alumni,” the deans wrote. “If these groups should support a name change, we would then proceed through the University governance process.”

According to The Washington Free Beaconthis idea isn’t sitting too well with some alumni.

MSU alum Spike Dearing told the Beacon that Madison “was an intellectual giant of his time” and that “the college embodies [his] intellectual rigor.”

“Our college is named after him because we too value academic achievement, intense deliberation, and a liberal society where our differences need not be our undoing,” Dearing said.

On the other hand, Madison College alumna Anisa Dagher said she isn’t opposed to a name change — she wants to hear minority students’ views on the matter as it’s not “her place to decide what is or is not offensive to people of color.”

“I am curious as to what they would want to change it to that would represent what the college teaches while at the same time remaining inoffensive to students and faculty of color,” Dagher said.

MSU Turning Point USA President Sam Larey said if the college ends up changing its name, MSU “may have to make other changes on campus”:

“If this is the case, and we truly are seeking to become inclusive, we must … rename the Michigan State Spartans because Spartans enslaved, conquered, raped and pillaged … disavow the campus as we are on ‘stolen land,’ and ban international study to Egypt as those students visit the pyramids, which were constructed by slaves. This is, of course, ridiculous.”

(Although Larey’s point is well-taken, the bit about the pyramids isn’t quite accurate according to fairly recent evidence.)

Other endeavors noted by Deans Racioppi and Judge to help “combat racism and advance an anti-racist agenda” include workshops to help faculty “revise the curriculum and course materials,” professional development on anti-racism, and methods to “better attract students from minoritized backgrounds.”

Read the full letter and Free Beacon article.

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IMAGE: Urustar / Flickr.com

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 18 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.