University forks out $1M to strip dorm of Confederate name
August 15, 2016 - 7:11 PM
Vanderbilt University paid the United Daughters of the Confederacy $1.2 million on Monday to revoke the group's name — deemed a "symbol of exclusion" — from a dorm at the Nashville, Tenn., institution.
"Many generations of students, faculty, and staff have struggled with, argued about, and debated with vigor this hall. We have asked time and again how can we have this symbol in the sky — a pediment is intended to draw a gaze upward — as part of our aspirational goals?" Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos said in a statement Monday.
"Our debates and discussions have consistently returned over these many years to the same core question: can we continue to strive for that diverse and inclusive community where we educate the leaders that our communities, nation and world so desperately need, with this hall as so created? My view, like that of so many in the past, and so many in our present, is that we cannot."
In 1935, the Confederate group donated $50,000 for the naming rights to and construction of Confederate Memorial Hall, which is now home to freshman dorms. In 2002, the institution began looking into how to strip the name off the hall. The initial financial endowment, combined with more than eight decades of interest, equalled more than $1 million.
At the time, the Tennessee division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy sued to keep the building's name. In 2005, a Tennessee Appeals Court ruled the university could remove the "Confederate" portion of the building's name if it returned the group's money at its present-day value.
Anonymous donors have stepped forward over the past decade to fund the effort. Vanderbilt's Board of Trustees approved the change earlier this summer.