After a Google Form was released Sunday prompting the JMU community to submit their thoughts and ideas regarding the potential renaming of Confederate named buildings on campus, members of JMU have expressed concern on Twitter — including the birth of the hashtag #ChangeTheNamesJMU.
The form read that its purpose was to assist the taskforce in working on the history and context of the university.
“In keeping with our educational mission, we seek to provide information to our university community as we wrestle with important issues of race relations, equity, and social justice,” the form said.
Carah Ong Whaley, associate director of JMU’s Center for Civic Engagement, and Ethan Gardner, a Democracy Fellow at the center, have tweeted multiple times advocating for the name changes and their dissatisfaction with the survey.
“Whoever wrote this @JMU survey needs to be held accountable,” Whaley said on Twitter.
The Google Form has bios of each individual the halls are named after: Matthew Fontaine Maury, Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson and Turner Ashby. The release of the form has prompted some discussion regarding JMU’s “romanticized” perception of members of the confederacy, specifically slaveholders.
I viewed the @JMU official form to gather student perspectives on the three confederates who have buildings named after them. I was shocked to have to read through bios romanticizing the “daring exploits” of traitors who fought to keep people enslaved. Do better JMU pic.twitter.com/0t0DZx1UK7— Ethan Gardner (@ethanhgardner) June 14, 2020
Twitter user Charlie Conner, said in a tweet that JMU “revealed their hand” in the situation, stating that if the university really wanted to change the building names, it wouldn’t have given the “traitors such glossy bios.”
Various other Twitter users expressed further concerns regarding the “glorification” JMU was giving the Confederate soldiers while asking the university how it could celebrate such figures in history.
For Gardner, he said he feels that the university is making something simple into something more complex than it needs to be.
“...renaming racist buildings is pretty much the easiest thing the university can do to make our campus more inclusive...” Gardner said on Twitter.
CORRECTION (Jun. 16, 3:15 p.m.): A previous version of this article stated the Google Form was released by JMU's Task Force on Inclusion, when in actuality, they were not involved in the release of the survey.
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