Oregon State University President Ed Ray announced Monday new names for three campus buildings after deciding the previous namesakes had racist legacies.
“The names of buildings and places play a very important role in our university.” Ray said. “They speak to the history of OSU, the university’s values and mission, and our efforts to create an inclusive community for all. Names also recognize and honor the positive contributions of those associated with the university.”
Avery Lodge will now be called Champinefu Lodge (pronounced CHOM-pin-A-foo), according to a press release from OSU. In the dialect of the Calapooia tribe, which historically inhabited the Willamette Valley, the word Champinefu is translated to mean “At the place of the blue elderberry,” according to OSU. Calapooia tribal members historically would travel to areas around what is now the Corvallis campus to harvest blue elderberries.
“This name honors the contributions and history of Native Americans within the Willamette Valley and recognizes that federal lands deeded to the state of Oregon to create this university were taken from tribes that have lived in this region for many generations,” the press release stated.
The building had previously been named for Corvallis founder Joseph C. Avery. During the renaming process, scholars determined Avery’s political engagement in the 1850s aimed to advance slavery in Oregon.
Benton Hall will now be known as Community Hall. Benton Hall had been named in honor of the citizens of Benton County who raised money for its construction in the 1880s. Benton County got its name from U.S. Sen. Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri. Scholars have said Benton owned slaves, held white supremacist views and stridently advocated for the removal of Native Americans from their tribal lands to allow white people could expand west.
The new name “reflects the contributions of local residents in establishing the university, and helping it reach its 150th anniversary and excel as Oregon’s statewide university,” according to OSU.
Benton Annex will now be called the Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center. The building is home to the university’s women’s center. According to OSU, Redmond was a leader in the struggle for women’s suffrage in Oregon in the early 20th century.
“The right to vote was especially important to Redmond, who was a black woman living in a state that had black exclusion laws in its constitution,” according to OSU. “Her work is credited with laying the groundwork for the civil rights movement in Oregon in the mid-twentieth century.”
This fall, the university plans to develop public displays within each of the buildings to share the histories of the three structures and their previous names. The university plans to provide similar information inside Gill Coliseum and Arnold Dining Center, two other buildings that were under consideration for name changes.
“As I have said before, we must acknowledge our past, avoid hypocrisy and recognize the history of those who established this extraordinary university," Ray said.
Lillian Schrock covers public safety for the Gazette-Times. She may be reached at 541-758-9548 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @LillieSchrock.
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