By SAMANTHA E. WILLIAMS
After months of student debate, MTSU announced Monday that the name of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest will remain on the school’s Army ROTC building.
"In conversation with student organizations across campus, they did not seem to be bothered if the name was changed or not," said Robert Glenn, MTSU’s vice president of student affairs. "For African-American organizations, it seemed there are more important issues to devote energies to."
Last fall, MTSU senior Amber Perkins led a petition drive to remove Forrest’s name from Forrest Hall, and the Student Government Association Senate initially voted to support her position.
Perkins believed the building’s name was offensive to African-American students. She could not be reached for comment Monday about the school’s latest decision.
Glenn cited two reasons behind the decision, one being the name was not a major issue to the student body, and two, if a change did occur it could instigate a petition to change the names of other buildings in the future.
MTSU history major Matthew Hurtt said he was "appreciative to the administration for choosing not to change the name."
Hurtt started a counter petition to preserve the Forrest name on the ROTC building because of the confederate general’s legacy as a brilliant and misunderstood cavalry leader.
Forrest is known locally for recapturing Murfreesboro from the Union Army and liberating several prisoners, including six who were scheduled to be hanged the next morning. The general destroyed the Union supplies before vacating, knowing that a superior force in Nashville would move to reclaim Murfreesboro for the North.
Two open forum debates were recently held to discuss the name change issue. One was held at MTSU, and the other was held at Patterson Park Community Center.
About 100 people, including black and white MTSU students, professors, members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other community members, attended the Patterson Park debate.
"I do not feel the Patterson Park debate was handled as well as it could have been. Many people, for both sides, used the microphone to insult one another," Hurtt said. "Not all history is G-rated or pleasant, but we need to step back and look at where we are and where we came from."
Speaking at the meeting, Perkins said there are many people who might be considered to have brilliant military minds, including Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden.
"Of course we would never consider putting their names on a building," she said.
Copyright ©2007 The Daily News Journal