Students at Maryland’s Towson University are cheesed at the lack of progress on the renaming of buildings, specifically two which honor former slave owners.
The movement to change the monikers of Carroll Hall and Paca House, named for Declaration of Independence signatories Charles Carroll and William Paca, began in earnest last spring when the student group “Tigers for Justice” put up a Change.org petition.
According to the petition, Carroll and Paca owned significant numbers of slaves and hence “built their wealth off of the enslavement, abuse, and forced labor of African American people.”
A former Maryland State archivist, however, noted that the 18th century legislators’ legacy is mixed; for example, Carroll became an abolitionist and Paca was a “father of the Bill of Rights.”
The Towerlight reports the Towson Student Government Association used the petition to formally ask President Kim Schatzel to form a committee to investigate potential name changes. But that committee still hasn’t made any decisions. Schatzel partly blames this on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re still managing that process,” Schatzel said. “There’s no deadline within the policy to be able to do that but we’re moving as promptly and as expeditiously as possible and I very, very much appreciate the committee’s work to be able to support that request by SGA to be able to consider the renaming.”
Jordan Smith, who is also a student at TU, hopes the renaming is not prolonged until students forget, or until students leading the initiative graduate.
“I hope that Towson doesn’t think that we’re going to forget about this because this is something that is important,” he said.
Smith suggests the University provide progress updates on a semesterly basis or more, even if no or little progress has been made.
“If Towson doesn’t change this name soon it’ll actually show how much they care about their Black students, and if they decide not to change the name, it’ll really show that Towson doesn’t care about their Black students except for the fact that their race is a demographic that will make them look better for their institution, not that they care about their students,” Smith said.
Student Sarah Fishkind added that there’s enough historical evidence to show the buildings named after Carroll and Paca are “harmful.”
“It is really bothersome to see the University that claims to celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion, but is still struggling to decide on whether or not they should rename building names that were named after slave owners,” Fishkind said. “Towson must also systematically change its ways in order to ensure all students are welcomed on campus.”
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