FSU panel votes on controversial statue, building names

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By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service
May 7, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A panel of 15 FSU faculty, staff, students and alumni voted to relocate a statue of a former slave owner who played a role in providing the land for the university. The panel is also recommending renaming two buildings.

The statue of Frances Eppes, a grandson of Thomas Jefferson, sits prominently to the right of Westcott Hal, the main administration building at Florida State. Jefferson’s grandson helped gain the land the school sits on. A plaque inaccurately calls him the founder of the university.

“There is no one founder for Florida State University. He was on a couple of committees,” says Students for a Democratic Society spokesman Maddie Hendrick.

Now, a 15-member panel is recommending the Eppes statue be moved and the building behind the statue named for Eppes be renamed. Students for a Democratic Society pushed for the change.

“He was particularly, especially brutal, especially racist, especially pro slavery” says Hendrick.

The panel is also recommending the FSU law school, named for former Florida Chief Justice B.K. Roberts, also be renamed. Roberts was instrumental in keeping Virgil Hawkins, a black man, from attending the law school at the University of Florida.

FSU alum Andre Gordon sees both sides of the debate.

“A lot of the land here, was probably…probably had slaves on it. So, I don’t know, are we going to remove everything?” asks Gordon.

Renaming the law school would require a vote of the legislature. The fate of the statue and Eppes Hall are now in the hands of FSU President John Thrasher. He’s promised a decision sometime this summer.

In October 2016, a vote to get rid of Eppes' statue failed. Nearly 6,300 students, about 11 percent of the student body, voted to keep the statue.


By: WCTV Eyewitness News
May 7, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Florida State University's President's Advisory Panel on University Namings and Recognitions met on Friday morning to discuss the future of a controversial statue and building names on campus.

At the meeting, the panel voted to recommend the removal of the Francis Eppes Statue and to remove his name from the Eppes Hall building.

The panel has met several times since its inception in October 2017, with several student organizations coming out in full force to voice their opinions. The 15-member panel, consisting of FSU students, faculty, staff, and alumni, was formed after university president John Thrasher condemned last summer's violent acts by white supremacists in Charlottesville, VA.

FSU students had also expressed outrage last year over the memorializing of FSU founder Francis Eppes, who was also a slave owner.

Friday, the panel voted to remove the statue from in front of the Westcott Building and to remove Eppes' name from the criminology building. Instead, they are requesting a small plot elsewhere on campus to portray his role at the university.

The vote passed with applause from Students for a Democratic Society.

The panel's recommendations now go to President John Thrasher for a final decision.

The name of another building on campus, B.K. Roberts Hall, was also discussed. The panel will also be giving an official recommendation to the president for removal of his name, but for that particular building, President Thrasher will have to contact the Florida Legislature.



 
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