After Alspaugh residents clashed with Housing, Dining and Residence Life about "The Plow," the dorm's house council has decided to hold a forum on whether the name should be removed.

HDRL told Alspaugh House Council early last week that they would have to repaint the bench—which has the words "The Plow" painted on it—or remove the lettering, said first-year Chris Orrico. In response, he posted a petition on the Class of 2020 Facebook group against changing the bench, which got more than 140 likes. Students also conducted a temporary sit-in to guard the bench. 

Junior Sonali Biswas, who helped paint the bench two years ago, explained the nickname's origin, commenting on the same post.

“When we painted it, it was a reference to how people called [the dorm] ‘a** plow’ [because] it could be mispronounced," she wrote.

Eventually, HDRL decided not to repaint or remove the bench. But in an email sent to Alspaugh residents, Lisa Beth Bergene, associate dean for East Campus, asked students to respect that some are still offended by the nickname.

"I've heard that the assumption has been made that no one in the building could have a problem with it or they'd speak out," she wrote. "I can confirm that there are people in the community who do have a problem with it."

She continued to note that "free speech"—which several students argued was a reason to keep the bench as it is—"is not always productive speech." And she asked Alspaugh residents to consider repainting the bench on their own.

"I hope that you will value your peers more than you will value cheap humor," she wrote.

Now, the Alspaugh House Council is planning to hold a forum to decide on how to move forward, said Orrico and first-year Elle Smyth. First-year Lara Breitkreutz, who is on House Council, declined to comment.

Alspaugh residents had different thoughts on why HDRL wanted the bench to be repainted, and different thoughts on whether it should be. In her email to residents, Bergene pointed to slurs painted under the East Campus bridge in October as examples of unproductive speech. Orrico, however, pushed back against the notion that "The Plow" was somehow offensive.

“HDRL was making massive illogical leaps about the words The Plow being related to sexual assault and that it was implying violence towards women,” he said.

Bergene could not be reached for further comment to clarify why HDRL requested the name be removed.

However, Smyth said HDRL's request came because some Alspaugh residents were offended by the phrase. And others voiced their frustration at HDRL's actions.

“I think that HDRL has not made a pragmatic decision, for no matter how many times they repress the usage of ‘The Plow,’ there will always be a return of the repressed," said first-year Becca DiLuzio. "Alspaugh will always be known as The Plow—it’s a tradition.”

She added that students were mainly concerned that HDRL had taken unilateral action.

“I think the problem is not so much that HDRL wanted us to repaint it, but the fact that they supposedly planned to repaint it without consulting the students of Alspaugh first," she said. "Our protests finally opened a dialogue that should have existed from the beginning.”