The Board of Regents for the University System of Georgia (USG) rejected recommendations from an advisory panel to change the names of 75 of its buildings due to ties to “racism” and “white supremacy.”
“The purpose of history is to instruct,” the Board of Regents said Monday in a statement announcing its intention to reject the recommendations of the Naming Advisory Group after reviewing its report.
“History can teach us important lessons, lessons that if understood and applied make Georgia and its people stronger,” the statement continued. “The board, therefore, will not pursue name changes on USG buildings and colleges as recommended by the advisory group’s report.”
The board said it is “grateful to Albany State University President Marion Fedrick and the members of the naming advisory group for their diligent work on this complex matter,” and added:
The intent of the advisory group was to better understand the names that mark our buildings and colleges, recognizing there would likely be a number of individuals who engaged in behaviors or held beliefs that do not reflect or represent our values today. Understanding the history of names fulfills a knowledge mission that has guided USG for the past 90 years.
— Rename Grady (@RenameGrady) November 22, 2021
The Naming Group’s report recommended USG change the names of 75 buildings and colleges “to help ensure names associated with USG colleges and buildings support the stated USG vision, mission and goals.”
The group said it identified 878 buildings and colleges, out of 3,861, that have been “named for individuals or groups of individuals, companies or landmarks.”
The group then made its final recommendation based on “five broad inquiries”:
Did the person or entity support any mistreatment towards humanity?
Was the person or entity affiliated with beliefs and actions that hindered the advancement of humanity?
Did the person or entity willingly fight or support obstacles that hindered the advancement, health, or well-being of humanity?
Did the person or entity support or have a positive impact on humanity?
Was the person or entity consistent in support of positive behaviors and actions?
According to the Board of Regents, the Naming Advisory Group was formed on June 17, 2020.
“It is important to the Board of Regents that USG represents the very best of our state and 333,000 students who are working to attain their degrees from our colleges and universities across the state,” Chairman Sachin Shailendra said. “I appreciate the time and commitment of all those who have agreed to do this review, and know they will work quickly and thoroughly.”
UPI reported Tuesday Georgia groups that initially sought the name changes condemned the board’s decision to reject the recommendations.
One group, #RenameGrady, which petitioned to remove the name of journalist Henry Grady from University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, said it was not surprised by the decision of the Board of Regents, adding it shows “the board’s support for racism and the upholding of White supremacy.”
“This failure signals a willful ignorance of the history of people of color and a disregard for the physical, emotional and mental well-being of BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and People of Color] students who have to walk the halls of these institutions every day,” the group said in a statement. “#RenameGrady condemns this hostile decision and urges the regents to reconsider.”