ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

Vanderbilt Concedes Defeat

July 13, 2005 by ACTA

In May, a Tennessee court ruled that Vanderbilt University does not have the right to remove the word "confederate" from a dormitory that has carried the name "Confederate Memorial Hall" since it was erected almost seventy years ago with funding from the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Vanderbilt had wanted to remove the word "confederate" from the building because it offended various campus constituencies who felt it amounted to an insensitive glorification of the South's inauspicious slaveholding past; the United Daughters of the Confederacy argued that Vanderbilt had a contractual obligation to conserve the name that had been agreed upon when it made its funding contributions years ago. Vanderbilt vowed to contest the ruling--but the university has now conceded defeat, and will leave the offending name where it is, carved onto the face of the building. Vanderbilt will also be minimizing the prominence and primacy of that name, too, however; on Monday, the university announced that it will not use the word "confederate" when referring to the building in official publications, maps, and public statements. Vanderbilt could have removed the name from the building, and thus expunged it, along with the building's historical origin in a commemorative gesture that has over time become highly politically charged, had the school been willing to repay the money that the United Daughters of the Confederacy had donated to the building. When asked why the school did not foot the $50,000 bill, university spokesperson Michael Schoenfeld said that "We didn't think that was a wise use of Vanderbilt's resources." Vanderbilt plans to address the ongoing strife caused--or perhaps simply crystallized--by the building's name by establishing an annual campuswide event dedicated to reasoned discussion of the Civil War's legacy.

Comments

Leave a Comment >

There are no comments for this article yet.

Let us know what you are thinking

FEATURED TOPICS

ACTA's take on:

News Roundup

The Consequences of the Government Shutdown for Higher Ed

Chronicle of Higher Education, Lindsay Ellis and Lily Jackson 

College Bloat Meets ‘The Blade’

Wall Street Journal, Tunku Varadarajan

College Trustees Must Protect Free Speech

Chronicle of Higher Education, Keith E. Whittington

Donations Keep Iowa Wesleyan Afloat

Education Dive, Natalie Schwartz

Signup to Receive ACTA’s Quarterly
Newsletter & Email Updates


Include information for trustees.

Search