The Student Government Association overwhelming passed a resolution to rename Forrest Hall by a vote of 19 to 5.
Forrest Hall is the building used by ROTC and was named after the Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest.
Along with his role in the United States Civil War, Forrest was a slave trader in Memphis, the first Grand Wizard of the original Ku Klux Klan and made his fortune by slave labor during the 19th century, according to Steven Disser, senator for College of Liberal Arts and sponsor of the resolution.
"I know a lot of people are going to say that it goes back to our history, but look at the other things he has attributed to his name," Disser said on the senate floor. "He was the first grand wizard of a terrorist organization."
The resolution came to SGA by a petition complied by a temporary activist group called Students Against Forrest Hall. SGA policy states that any student can introduce legislation before the senate if it is backed by a petition of no less than 50 students. Students Against Forrest Hall had a petition of 205 students.
As one of the voters against the resolution, Gretchen Jenkins earlier asked the senate to consider the resolution to be presented to the student body as a referendum.
Jenkins said that she voted against the resolution because 205 students is not a majority percentage of the student body.
"But I don’t think that this is something we should decide on today," Jenkins said. "I think if we are going to do this it should be a bill before the whole student body to vote on."
In response, Lauren Simpson, senator for Mass Communication, said that putting the issue as a referendum to the students would take too long and that the petition is evidence that the students at MTSU want the named changed.
"Why wait so long when it has been on there long enough," Simpson said.
Resolution Number 19-06-F says that the name of Forrest Hall will be removed and that the new name should be decided on by university administration, and "should represent an individual whom has significant contributions to MTSU."
After being passed by the Senate, the resolution must be approved by SGA President Jay Cash and reviewed by Vice President for Student Affairs Bob Glenn before being sent as a formal request to be considered by administrators.
The responsibility of naming buildings falls under the control of the Naming Committee that is headed by Senior Vice President John Cothern. While there is no specific policy on removing a name, there is university policy, which is exactly the same as the Tennessee Board of Regents policy 4:02:05:01, that stipulates the criteria that a name must be before consideration by the committee.
"To preserve the integrity of all buildings named in the system, this honor must be reserved for individuals of recognized accomplishment and character," according to the TBR policy.
Policy for naming buildings at MTSU
General Statement for Naming Buildings:
"The naming of buildings, facilities, grounds and organizational units of institutions for individuals or groups who have made significant contributions to society is an honored tradition of higher education."
TBR controls naming of main buildings, like Forrest Hall, and MTSU controls naming of sub-buildings or building additions, like the Albert Gore Sr. Research Center, a section of Todd Hall.
Criteria for Naming Buildings:
Special consideration is given to:
•The historical significance of the contribution of the individual or group to the institution or area school.
•The association of the individual or groups with the building being named.
•Any financial contribution of the individual or group to the institution or area school.
•State, regional, national, or international recognition of the individual’s or group’s contributions and achievements.
Process for Naming Buildings:
President Sidney McPhee asks a committee, headed by John Cothern, senior vice president, to decide what to name a building, in this case, Forrest Hall.
The committee will include students, faculty and administration and they will consider all of the above criteria and name suggestions.
Once approved, a proposal will be submitted to McPhee and to TBR for approval.
© Copyright 2006 The Sidelines