Rutgers faces calls to rename over slavery ties

Rutgers students recently petitioned the school to rename three of its halls named after slave owners.

A Rutgers spokesperson did not rule out rule changes so as to not offend students.

Students at Rutgers University are demanding that the school rename buildings due to their namesakes’ connections to slavery.

Students made a petition, which has nearly 4,000 signatures, to rename the Hardenbergh Hall, Frelinghuysen Hall, and MIlledoler Hall for “honoring slave owners.” If Rutgers is “a just, inclusive, and safe campus,” then the students claim that “this means not forcing students to live and learn in spaces named after those who opposed their very existence, let alone their education.” 

Henry Rutgers, for whom the university was named, was also a slave owner. 

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The Scarlet and Black Project is the group that brought the idea of renaming buildings at the school to the university’s attention. This project explores the history of African Americans and Native Americans, “uncovering how the university benefited from the slave economy and how Rutgers came to own the land it inhabits.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was previously questioned about his opinions on the renaming. 

Murphy said, “I’ve not been asked the question on Rutgers, so that’s something I’m not going to speak to specifically, it seems to me that we ought to be able to get to a better place. If there are symbols, statues, names that somehow separate us as a society, somehow offend people, and slave ownership has got to be on that list. Bigoted, racist behavior has got to be on that list.”

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Regarding the possibility of changing the names, a Rutgers spokesperson told News 12 New Jersey, “we fully expect that racial and social justice will be at the top of President [Jonathan] Holloway’s agenda and expect that that process will include a review of all of the work done by the Scarlet and Black Project, which looked at Rutgers’ history including the relationship of its founders to indigenous peoples and to slavery.”

Rutgers did not respond to Campus Reform in time for comment.

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