FSU panel on campus recognitions holds first discussion

By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News
October 30, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A student referendum to remove the names of slave owners from statues and buildings at Florida State University failed last semester.

However, their voices were still heard. The university formed a panel earlier this month to review current policies concerning campus names and markers.

FSU President John Thrasher said, "There is evidence of our rich heritage, frankly, all around us. We can see it in the names of our buildings. We can see it in the statues of our forebearers."

For some, that's the problem.

FSU student Maddie Hendrick said, "I'm strongly opposed to any building or monument that's named after someone who's racist or a slave owner or a confederate."

For FSU student Cea Moline, the statue of Francis Eppes and the building named after the university's founder is particularly troubling.

"He owned 91 slaves. He started a slave-catching militia. We believe he shouldn't be honored today," Moline explained.

Students against the statues sat in on the first President's Advisory Panel on University Namings and Recognitions discussion Monday.

"I just really hope that the panel takes some time to really look at the history of FSU," one student said, speaking at the meeting.

FSU President John Thrasher encourages the panel to get input from university constituencies, educate the FSU community, recommend criteria for naming policies and recognitions, and recommending anything else deemed necessary and appropriate.

When asked if the university will act if the panel recommends the removal of statues or names, Thrasher answered, "Let's deal with that when it comes. Let's don't speculate what might be the outcome of what they do. I'm not going to do that."

"I think if I start speculating on those kinds of things, that would perhaps influence them one way or the other," Thrasher continued. "I'd rather let them do their work, and we'll see what happens."

The 15-member panel consists of FSU students, faculty, staff, and alumni. They will review all statues, buildings, and memorials, and will submit recommendations to the Board of Trustees and President Thrasher.

There is no set deadline. The panel agreed to meet at least every three weeks. Members plan to hold town halls and public hearings to get input throughout the process.

Updates will be posted on here.

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