The Duke Student Government senate adopted a resolution to support the renaming of Aycock residence hall.
Senior Jacob Tobia, vice president for equity and outreach, junior Adrienne Harreveld and senior Prashanth Kamalakanthan presented the proposal to the senate Wednesday night. The students argued that the University should not celebrate a connection with former N.C. Governor Charles Aycock, who was a leader of the North Carolina white supremacy movements during the late 1800s.
“He has no institutional connection to the University,” Kamalakanthan said. “We don’t think this is something that Duke should be connected to, considering our history and the current racial inclusiveness of Duke’s policies.”
Harreveld presented several racist political cartoons that Aycock supported during his term as governor, including one that stated, “The vampire that hovers over North Carolina/Negro rule.”
Kamalakanthan noted that Duke is not the only university to consider renaming a campus building in light of new information. He added that The University of Texas at Austin faced a similar issue after discovering that several university founders and leaders had been members of the Ku Klux Klan.
The resolution also includes a recommendation to rename Aycock Dormitory to honor Julian Abele, the prominent black architect responsible for West Campus, including the Duke Chapel, Cameron Indoor Stadium and the Allen Building.
Kamalakanthan said that they are looking to gather greater student support before formally approaching administrators though they are already aware of the proposal.
“We have not officially sat down administrators about this, because we have been trying to drum up support with students so that we could have a much more serious conversation with administrators,” Kamalakanthan said.
Tobia said he is also interested in developing a one-credit academic course on the history of racism at the University. He noted that he has already approached William Darity, chair of the African and African American studies department, with the course proposal.
In other business:
Representatives from Gamma Phi Beta Sorority presented their plans for recruitment this Spring and introduced their official philanthropies—Camp Fire, Girl Guides of Canada and Girls on the Run. They will begin their five-day recruitment period in two weeks and are recruiting women from every class.
Jamie Woo, Trinity ’13, presented information to the senate about the United States Public Interest Research Group’s two-year fellowship program. Wu noted that the U.S. PIRG’s main campaigns are strengthening participation in elections, closing corporate tax loopholes and promoting higher education. Wu will be representing the U.S. PIRG at Thursday’s career fair.
The founders of Dormserv, a combination breakfast delivery and wakeup call service, presented their plans to the senate for launching during the first week in February. They will operate out of the Divinity Café and will accept both food points and FLEX. The service will initially serve only West Campus but plans to expand later in the semester.
SOFC granted $5050 to the Asian Students Association for their annual Lunar New Year showcase, $4000 to the Duke East Asian Nexus for the Duke-UNC China Leadership Summit and $2400 to the Engineering Student Government for Pratt E-Talks.
The senate approved the Student Organizations and Finance By-Law proposed by Vice President Nikolai Doytchinov, a junior. Senator Patrick Oathout proposed an amendment to the by-law, which altered the requirement of a two-thirds senate majority to grant new status to student groups to a simple majority vote. The amendment was approved by the senate.
Senator Mousa Alshanteer, a sophomore and editorial pages managing editor for The Chronicle, proposed a resolution to honor the late Benjamin Ward, Jr. The resolution passed unanimously.
Ward was an adjunct associate professor and associate dean of faculty programs for the philosophy department and taught courses in Arabic, comparative literature, German studies and philosophy. Prior to joining the University, Ward—a classically trained pianist—played the organ at Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1968 memorial service. While at the University, he served as the director of the The Pitchforks. Ward died December 14, 2013.