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Change the name of Douglas Hall? Eastern Illinois committee to take up proposal Thursday

Change the name of Douglas Hall? Eastern Illinois committee to take up proposal Thursday

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CHARLESTON — A committee assigned to reconsider changing the name of Eastern Illinois University's Douglas Hall is scheduled to meet on Thursday.

The university's Naming Committee is scheduled to take up EIU President David Glassman's charge to make a recommendation on the residence hall named for U.S. Sen. Stephen Douglas and his debates with Abraham Lincoln.

Glassman announced the decision during the university Board of Trustees meeting in September, saying current issues concerning racial injustice warrant reconsideration of the issue, which has also been addressed in the past.

Also on the meeting's agenda is a proposed recommendation to change the name of the student art gallery at Doudna Fine Arts Center in honor of the late Glenn Hild. Hild's positions at EIU included chairman of the Art Department and Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities.

The committee's meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday and will be conducted remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A live video feed of the meeting will be available online at youtu.be/La8kj4TywhE.

The university's announcement of the meeting said anyone wanting to comment during the meeting must contact EIU Vice President for Advancement Ken Wetstein by 10 a.m. Thursday.

Instructions on joining the meeting will be available by calling 217-581-5129 or by emailing to kawestein@eiu.edu, it said. Written comments can be submitted by the same deadline, it also said.

Douglas Hall and its neighboring Lincoln Hall were named in recognition of the debates between Lincoln and Douglas in the 1858 U.S. Senate campaign. One of the series of debates took place at the Coles County Fairgrounds.

During the September Board of Trustees' meeting, Glassman said Douglas supported slavery and the naming of the residence hall was "never intended to commemorate that." He said the name is "contrary to EIU's values."

Several schools of higher learning, including Illinois State University, have moved to alter names representing slave holders and racists. 

The committee will make a recommendation on whether to change the building's name and the actual decision will be up to the Board of Trustees.

There's no indication when the board might make that decision. The board's next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 13.

Discussion of possibly changing the Douglas Hall name dates to 2010. It re-emerged three years ago when EIU's Faculty Senate voted to recommend to have a committee again consider the name.

Look back: Photos of Charleston's past 

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