TX university strips historic female leader's name from residence hall
Beretta Hall will be renamed due to female namesake's ties with the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
The change takes effect at the end of the spring 2022 semester.
Beretta Hall, now slated to become Mesquite Hall, was coined in honor of Sallie Ward Beretta to commemorate her being the first woman to serve on the Board of Regents for the Texas State University System.
However, Beretta’s former leadership ties to the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) is leading the Texas university to remove her name from the building at the end of the spring semester.
Campus Reform obtained Texas State President Denise Trauth’s Jan. 27 email, which outlined the name change to the school.
The communication listed the following rationale compiled by Trauth’s Review and Recommendations Task Force for removing Beretta’s name:
Efforts to promote and preserve the Lost Cause Myth and glorify the memory of the Confederacy; and Viewpoints, which are antithetical to Texas State University’s current values, and its role as a Minority Serving Institution and Hispanic Serving Institution.
The task force was convened last September in response to activism conducted by “Black Texas State students and organizations” to bring “attention to Beretta’s past,” the University Star reported.
Beretta Hall was given its name in 1947 to commemorate Beretta’s Board of Regents stint as the only female member from 1933 to 1951. Financial contributions also helped to etch her name after she donated $5,000 to Southwest Texas State Teachers College.
Beretta was also heavily involved with the UDC chapter and spearheaded two local chapters prior to founding the San Antonio branch.
UDC, according to its website, “is the oldest patriotic organization in [the United States].”
Members must be “blood descendants, lineal or collateral, of men and women who served honorably in the Army, Navy or Civil Service of the Confederate States of America, or gave Material Aid to the Cause.”
Objectives of the group include preserving historical sites of the Confederacy, collecting material to preserve “truthful history,” and retelling the role Southern women played during the war.
The organization has, additionally, taken a stance against “racial divisiveness or white supremacy.”
A statement on the organization’s website reads:
”The United Daughters of the Confederacy totally denounces any individual or group that promotes racial divisiveness or white supremacy. And we call on these people to cease using Confederate symbols for their abhorrent and reprehensible purposes.”
Flowers Hall, named after former Texas State President John Garland Flowers, will retain its name after an investigation by the task force. Flowers firmly denied entry to Dana Jean Smith, the first Black student to integrate the university, due to provisions established by the Board of Regents and state policy.
The task force found the incident “beyond Flowers’ control.”
The forthcoming Mesquite Hall is the latest in a set of initiatives the university is taking to comply with diversity, equity, and inclusion expectations.
Last year, Texas State renamed two residential halls and two streets to honor “Latinx and Black individuals with connections to the university.”
The spring semester changes will be made in light of Black History Month. Trauth acknowledged the significance in the opening paragraph of the same email, stating, “It is a cherished time for our university community to come together and celebrate African American heritage, culture, and achievements.”
Trauth then reinforced the university’s commitment to inclusivity to “build a community” that revolves around “equity, justice, inclusion, and belonging to life for everyone.”
”Together, we have accomplished much toward this goal. However, it is work that is never finished and must be pursued with boldness and persistence,” Trauth stated. “Today, I want to update you on where we are with four main diversity, equity, inclusion, and access (DEIA) initiatives at Texas State and what it means for our community.”
Initiatives include advancing the search for a Vice President for Institutional Inclusive Excellence Search, prioritizing DEIA as a core focus for the next strategic planning process, and solidifying DEIA training for employees to debut in the spring.
Trauth concluded the email by referencing the “hate and bigotry” that led a British Muslim to take synagogue congregants in Colleyville, Texas hostage during a ten-hour standoff.
”While our work is far from finished, the progress we have made demonstrates all we can accomplish when we gather the power of expertise, passion, and dedication from across our university,” Trauth concluded.
When reached out to for comment, Texas Tech’s Sandy Pantlik, assistant vice president for communications, university advancement, referred Campus Reform to the school’s “Historical Background & Context” website.
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