MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota is considering changing the name of its student union building, which is currently named after a former school president who prevented black students from living in campus housing.
The student government passed a resolution this week that says the school should rename the Coffman Memorial Union to a “neutral name” that reflects inclusive values. The building is named after former university president Lotus D. Coffman.
The resolution says “the university has an opportunity to address its past.”
University President Eric Kaler is considering the resolution, which was signed by 20 student groups and 16 faculty members, The Star Tribune reported.
Coffman’s legacy came under scrutiny last fall with a university exhibit called “A Campus Divided: Progressives, Anti-Communists, and Anti-Semitism at the University of Minnesota, 1930-1942.” The exhibit brought attention to Coffman’s decision to block black students from taxpayer-funded campus housing during his tenure, which lasted from 1920 to 1938.
The resolution says having Coffman’s name on the student union building makes it “less welcoming.” It also calls for the university to establish a committee of students, staff and faculty to recommend a new name for the building.
“As students, we thought that was the most simple change that we could make,” said Sami Rahamim, who co-authored the resolution.
Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com