by Gabe Morris
December 08, 2004
Oral arguments have been scheduled for Jan. 5 in the Tennessee Court of Appeals for a United Daughters of the Confederacy lawsuit against Vanderbilt for removing "Confederate" from the formerly-named Confederate Memorial Hall.
Administrators decided to change the name in 2002.
The case was dismissed in September 2003 by then-Davidson County Chancellor Irvin Kilcrease.
Kilcrease found that the contract between the George Peabody College for Teachers and the UDC was "null and void" because a clause of the contract was not met, according to an Oct. 2003 Hustler article.
The UDC contributed $50,000 to the construction of Memorial Hall in 1935. The building underwent a $2.5 million renovation in 1987-88, to which the UDC did not contribute.
"The (Chancery) Court has ruled in Vanderbilt’s favor — (the UDC) has appealed the decision… Vanderbilt will defend its position and we believe the appeals court will uphold the original decision," said Michael Schoenfeld, vice chancellor for public affairs.
"(The UDC) apparently did not realize that … discrimination against minorities … would be against the law," Kilcrease wrote in a memorandum outlining his dismissal of the case. Schoenfeld emphasized that there are currently no plans to move the Confederate engraving on the building, however.
"The name of the building has been Memorial Hall for the last 2 years … (but) plans have not been made regarding the specific engraving — we will look into this after the legal issues have been resolved," Schoenfeld said.
In court, Vanderbilt said that some prospective students have "refused to attend" Vanderbilt because they were offended by the building’s name, according to The City Paper. Administration officials claim that any obligation to the UDC is fulfilled in another plaque on the building.
"There is a plaque on Memorial Hall that was placed there about 15 years ago — we have stated from the beginning that this plaque recognizing (the UDC’s) contribution will continue to stay there," Schoenfeld said.
Memorial Hall was originally built to be "a rent-free residence for women students of Confederate ancestry, with financing by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and Peabody College," according to the Vanderbilt Web site.
Vanderbilt merged with Peabody College in 1979.