Target: Michael Schill, President of the University of Oregon
Goal: Rename a college hall that is named after a known racist and supporter of slavery.
University of Oregon President Michael Schill announced, after a year of public debate, research and contemplation, that he would be keeping the name of Deady Hall. Matthew Deady, the university’s founder, was a racist who supported slavery in the 1850s.
The Black Student Task Force, a campus advocacy group for black students, wrote prior to the decision that Deady contributed to the anti-blackness that still permeates the campus and that “Buildings honoring the architects of our oppression only add insult to injury.”
This decision communicates that racism and advocating for oppression is acceptable, so long as a person also has a couple of redeeming qualities. The University of Oregon must not let tradition stand in the way of progress, and ignore just criticism from its students of color. Demand the university president rename Deady Hall.
Dear President Schill,
You’ve worked for a year to make a decision on whether to rename Deady Hall, named after a man who promoted racism and slavery. As a white man, you have a different relationship with history, and it may be difficult for you to fully understand and empathize with black students’ concerns about having a building named after a pro-slavery racist. However, if you are hearing the voices of your students, this decision should not be difficult.
Despite Deady being the founder of the university, he should not be celebrated with a building named in his honor when he would have fought to keep black students off the campus. You have a chance to contribute to the university’s history in a positive way, rather than simply maintaining the status quo. I urge you to change the name of Deady Hall.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Chris Phan