ROCK HILL, S.C. — A South Carolina law makes it futile to even consider a resolution to change the name of a Winthrop University building named after an avowed racist and former governor, the school’s Board of Trustees said.

The Herald of Rock Hill reports ( the trustees decided Saturday not to consider a resolution to rename Tillman Hall, the school’s administration building. About 80 students and faculty had marched Wednesday in support of changing the name of the building.

Student demonstrators then briefly took part in a sit-in on the main floor of Tillman Hall, where wrote letters to their legislators.

“What the board has decided to do is not act corporately,” said trustees chair Karl Folkens.

Trustees believe it’s unlikely legislators would approve the name change, Folkens said. The South Carolina Heritage Act, passed in 2000, prevents anyone from changing the name of any street, bridge, structure or park that has been “dedicated in memory of, or name for, any historic figure or historic event.”

Gov. Ben Tillman praised the massacre of blacks as whites were taking back full control of South Carolina in 1876. He also was instrumental in both founding Clemson University and establishing Winthrop College as a teaching school for women

Winthrop has one of the most diverse student bodies among state universities: Almost a third of the undergraduates are black and around 40 percent of students identify as non-white.

“The focus should be, by those who want to change, to deal with their legislators,” Folkens said. “Those who are in-state students or faculty or administrators or staff, they have representatives, and they need to let them know their sentiments.”

Information from: The Herald,