AUSTIN (AP) - The University ofTexas has appointed a 19-member panel to recommend whether adormitory named for a former professor who was a Ku Klux Klanmember should be renamed.
Entering UT student Vivian Renee Esparza said, "I mean it'snot right."
UT student Ben Urick said, "It's inappropriate in this day andage."
Simkins Hall is now in a nationwide spotlight. And with vocalvoices standing up against it's name, the university has takensteps of it's own.
UT's Vice President for diversity and community engagement's Dr. GregoryVincent said, "I think we have a great group. I think they'revery thoughtful."
He said, "My hope would be that we have some consensus arounda recommendation."
UT student and President of the BlackStudent Alliance Kristen Thompson says, "I'm all for renamingit, I know it's a feasible task....that's why I'm on the taskforce."
Kristen Thompson is one of a handful of students picked by theUniversity. Together, she, along with the other students, will joina diverse group of UT professors, staff members, alumni and civicleaders from around the community.
Thompson said, "It's important. If it does get renamed, it'sdefinitely going to be a staple because renaming a building doesn'thappen often. They usually have to be torn down and rebuilt. And ifit doesn't get renamed, the controversy and issue will always besomething that we use as a learning tool for future students."
Dr. Vincent said, "I think what we're finding is that thecampus community is concerned about making this a welcoming andinclusive environment. And we want to make sure that there are noimpediments that inclusive environment."
The review board will meet 4 times behind close doors. They'rehoping to have a recommendation or a set of recommendations by theend of June.
Afterwards, the panel will make those recommendations to UT PresidentWilliam Powers Jr. . That recommendation must then beapproved by the UT Board of Regents.
SimkinsResidence Hall opened in 1955 and was named for WilliamStewart Simkins. He taught at UT's Law School for 30 yearsuntil his death in 1929.
He was a leader of the Klan in Florida after the Civil War.
The 19 panel members are:
- Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement, Advisory Work Group Chair
- Dr. Sherri L. Sanders, Deputy to the Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement, Advisory Work Group Convener
- Dr. Charles Akins, former Austin Independent School District Associate Superintendent for Development and Community Partnerships and civic leader
- Mr. Nathan Bunch, President, Latino Pan-Hellenic Council and Administrative Director, Student Government
- Mr. Hector De Leon, Founder and managing partner of De Leon & Washburn, P.C., past president of the Texas Exes, Division of Diversity and Community Engagement Advisory Council Chair
- Mr. Manuel Gonzalez, Head Resident, Simkins Residence Hall and President, Graduate Student Assembly
- Dr. Edmund T. Gordon, Chair, Department of African and African American Diaspora Studies and Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology
- Ms. Katherine Antwi Green, Director of Equal Opportunity Services
- Dr. Michele Guzmán, Assistant Vice President for Diversity Education
- Ms. Choquette Hamilton, Executive Director, Student Diversity Initiatives and Director, Multicultural Information Center
- Dr. Steven Hoelscher, Chair, Department of American Studies and Professor, Departments of American Studies and Geography
- Ms. Muneezeh Kabir, Vice President, Student Government
- Mr. Sanford Levinson, W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood, Jr. Centennial Chair in Law, School of Law
- Dr. Alba Ortiz, President’s Chair for Education Academic Excellence, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Office of Bilingual Education
- Dr. Deborah Paredez, Associate Professor, Department of Theatre and Dance
- Mr. Scott Parks, President, Student Government
- Dr. Soncia Reagins-Lilly, Senior Associate Vice President, Office of the Dean of Students and Dr. Doug Garrard, Senior Associate Dean of Students, Office of the Dean of Students will share duty on the advisory group.
- Ms. Latonya (L.T.) Robinson, Area Coordinator, Division of Housing and Food Service and President, Black Faculty and Staff Association
- Ms. Smita Ruzicka, Associate Director for Greek Life and Intercultural Education
- Ms. Kristin Thompson, President, Black Student Alliance
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