Though we applaud the UA System’s commitment to removing painful reminders of racism on campus, we believe it can do better and move faster to remedy a situation that is long overdue. We believe that the expertise and critical perspective of UA staff, students, and faculty must be included in any future decisions about renaming buildings. Having been excluded from the Building Names Review Committee, the faculty, staff, graduate employees and students of the University of Alabama demand:
A) faculty, staff and student representation from all three UA System campuses. We demand that faculty, staff, and students from each campus be appointed as full members on the Committee.
B) complete transparency of committee business. As faculty, staff, graduate employees and students, we are the people suffering the everyday violence of entering buildings named after and plaques glorifying slave owners, scientific racists, Confederate leaders and segregationists. All meetings and deliberations must be open to the public and announced through system-wide press releases at least 48 hours before the meeting. All email or other communication dealing with the committee or committee business must be voluntarily provided to any person or organization that requests them without the submission of a formal FOIA request.
C) public hearings/listening sessions. We demand the full committee host public hearings or listening sessions so that the voices of community members, faculty, staff, graduate employees and students suffering the everyday violence of walking by or entering buildings named after and plaques glorifying slave owners, scientific racists, Confederate leaders and segregationists are heard and placed in the public record.
D) committee recommendations be executed by January 15, 2021. We demand the Board of Trustees require the committee report be completed, published and made publicly available via online PDF no later than October 1, 2020, with board approval and official name changes in place by January 6, the first day of spring 2021 classes.
The research on named buildings at UA has already been completed by prominent members of the community. UA historian Hilary Green’s The Hallowed Grounds Project and her Race, Memory, Identity project provide detailed historical documentation related to the use of slaves, building names and plaques on the main UA campus. Al Brophy’s foundation work, University, Court and Slave and other scholarly works have addressed these building namesakes as had James Sellers, several Crimson White journalists and other campus chroniclers. Faculty expertise will help make the committee’s work more efficient, if consulted.
In addition, UA leadership made promises in the past regarding a full confrontation with its past that have not been fulfilled. The 2004 UA Faculty Senate Resolution “Acknowledging and Apologizing for the History of Slavery at the University of Alabama” concludes with the following statement:
“Be it further resolved that the University take actions to atone for that history and to memorialize contributions of slaves to the campus in some prominent fashion.”
UCW Local 3965 is the University of Alabama’s chapter of the United Campus Workers of Alabama. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.