Hasty Forrest decision causes more problems than it solves

Posted: 11/20/06

A recent proposal passed in the Student Government Association that proposes to change the name of the campus’ ROTC building. The building, named for Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, recently came under fire from a temporary activist group called Students Against Forrest Hall. The group says it takes issue with the building being named after Forrest due to his role in the Confederate Army, as well as citing his involvement in the Ku Klux Klan and his ownership of slaves. The petition and proposal hope to pacify students who believe that the name and memory of Forrest represent racism and negativity.

The group managed to acquire the necessary 50 signatures to be considered on the SGA ballot, though the information circulated on their Facebook group was certainly less than accurate.

Forrest’s name was chosen using the criteria set out by the building naming committee, and, therefore, has violated no rules. The building is a military building, and, as such, was named for a native Tennessean of historical importance, who was renowned for his brilliant military tactics and his dedication to his home. However, as Shakespeare wrote, "The evil that men do lives long after their deaths, and the good is oft interred with their bones." The students claim the negative association with Forrest far outweighs his positive memory.

However, when is it acceptable to begin removing history from campus based only on a few students objections, which are themselves based on half-truths, misinformation, and the admitted desire to just get out and stir up controversy on campus? Is it fair to say, then, that these signatures truly represent the general ideology as a whole?

Perhaps a better answer would be to really discuss the issues the building may represent for some. The manner in which this decision was attempted and made was both hasty and unbalanced. When a decision is made with no debate and no discussion, it cannot possibly represent all of the viewpoints and emotions caught up in an issue this complex. It is a slippery slope, and opens up too many avenues of dissent, with no hope for a positive solution.
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