Vanderbilt University is moving forward with plans to divorce itself from its relationship with Tennessee Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. At issue is Confederate Memorial Hall, a building on the Peabody Campus which has that name prominently etched in stone.
In 1935, the United Daughters of the Confederacy donated $50,000 towards the construction of the dormitory, and they got naming rights in return. In today’s dollars, that’s about $1.2 million. A 2005 court case requires that Vanderbilt return that $1.2 million if it wants to rename the building (which they’ve been calling Memorial Hall for some time, anyways).
The university’s Board of Trust made the decision to return the money using anonymous donations earmarked for that purpose. Vanderbilt Student Government president issued a statement in support of the action:
“I commend the chancellor and the Board of Trust on their decision to remove the name of Confederate Memorial Hall. This action demonstrates the administration’s attentiveness to student needs and concerns, as well as sets a great precedent for advocating on behalf of those who may feel marginalized on our campus. This is an excellent next step in the direction of becoming an institution that not only admits diverse students, but ensures their care and support—one that is eager to eliminate any barriers that may stand in the way of such a goal.”