Towson University Removes Slave Owners' Names From Buildings

Students have called on school officials for years to change the building names

Towson University students walk on campus
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Towson University has decided to remove the names of slave owners from two dormitories following a vote by the University System of Maryland board of regents allowing the school to rename them.

The university created a 10-person committee comprised of students, faculty and staff a year ago that assessed whether changing the names would comply with university guidelines, The Baltimore Sun reported. It unanimously recommended renaming Carroll Hall and Paca House. Now that the university system has given its approval, the committee will suggest how to change them.

Charles Carroll was one of Maryland’s first U.S. senators and William Paca served as the state’s third governor. Both signed the Declaration of Independence.

Paca owned at least 100 slaves when he died in 1799 and Carroll had as many as 500 — ranking them among the Marylanders who owned the largest number of slaves, according to a January report by the renaming committee.

Towson University president Kim Schatzel wrote in a letter to the board of regents that the school’s leadership didn’t consult with students or faculty when the buildings were named.

Both opened before Towson codified its facility naming policy in 2017. The committee concluded that honoring the slave owners wouldn’t meet the current guidelines. It determined that Carroll and Paca’s disregard for diversity and equity doesn’t align with the university’s values.

Students have called on school officials for years to change the building names. A group called “Tigers for Justice” collected more than 6,700 signatures demanding their removal.

Schatzel acknowledged the men’s contributions as founding fathers but questioned in a letter “how we can ask our students to accept living and sleeping in a residence hall that, as one student told me, ‘was named after a man that enslaved my ancestors and tortured them as part of his daily life.’”

She said in a message to the university community on Monday that the process to rename the buildings will begin in the fall. The university’s shared governance bodies — the Academic Senate, Staff Senate and Student Government Association — will be required to offer input.

Towson’s renaming guidelines say the buildings could be named after notable Marylanders, state landmarks or alumni and faculty who have left the university system at least a year prior.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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