UofSC hosting another virtual forum on renaming campus buildings

UofSC hosting another virtual forum on renaming campus buildings
The Strom Thurmond Center at the University of South Carolina is one of a few buildings that students and faculty are calling university officials to rename. (Source: WIS)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC/WIS) - The University of South Carolina is hosting a virtual public forum Monday night to give the public the chance to voice concerns about renaming buildings on the UofSC campus.

The school’s Presidential Commission on University History will host the forum Monday at 6 p.m. over Microsoft Teams to promote social distancing.

UofSC President Bob Caslen established the commission in 2019 to lead a research effort into the university’s “complex history.” One of the commission’s tasks involves scrutinizing the backgrounds of people for whom campus buildings are named.

Among the buildings that some have argued should be renamed are ade Hampton Hall, the Harper Elliott Dormitory, and McMaster College, which houses the School of Visual Arts and design.

But the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center has taken center stage during discussions.

Thurmond was the longest-serving Republican in U.S. Senate history and ran for president in 1948 on a platform opposing desegregation. He also participated in a Senate filibuster with the goal of blocking the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

One of the first building names to be reviewed was the J. Marion Sims residence hall on the Women’s Quad. That resulted in a recommendation in June to remove Sims' name. That recommendation was endorsed by Caslen and the Board of Trustees.

In his recommendation to rename the building, Caslen said Sims, an alumnus who obtained the title of “the father of modern gynecology,” performed “unethical medical practices on enslaved women from 1845 to 1849.”

The document cited records Caslen said descibe his use “of at least 11 other enslaved women for medical experimentation.”

“Records also show that some doctors who assisted Sims after being made aware of the inhumane treatment refused to continue working with him,” Caslen’s recommendation to rename the building stated.

UofSC has requested a waiver from the General Assembly to override the Heritage Act and rename Sims Hall. The Heritage Act prevents certain monuments from being removed from public property without a two-thirds vote from the General Assembly.

Anyone who wishes to speak at Monday night’s meeting should fill out a speaker request form at the UofSC’s website.

Those interested in attending the meeting can call 1-803-400-6044 at 6 p.m. and use Conference ID: 232 155 609#.

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