These building are likely to be the first evaluated by a new Oregon State University process for considering renaming buildings.
Arnold Dining Center
The case for renaming: Benjamin Arnold was OSU's president from 1872 to 1892; before coming to the university, he served in the Confederate Army. During his time as president, OSU had a gray cadet uniform that student protesters resembled a Confederate uniform.
However, OSU archivist Larry Landis, who wrote “A School for the People: A Photographic History of Oregon State University,” said it was likely OSU’s board of regents that determined what the uniforms looked like.
“I don't have any evidence as to his racial views one way or the other,” Landis said.
The case for renaming: Joseph Avery was a founder of Corvallis and the editor of the pro-slavery newspaper the Occidental Messenger in 1857 and 1858, Landis said. In 2004, the Corvallis School Board initially voted to name what is now Linus Pauling Middle School after Avery and his wife in 2004, but reversed course after backlash over Avery’s pro-slavery associations.
Built: 1887 and 1888; originally called the Administration Building, it was renamed in 1947
The case for renaming: Thomas Hart Benton, a Missouri senator, advocated for westward expansionist policies in congress and in an 1846 address said “the white race alone received the divine command, to subdue and replenish the earth.” Seven states have counties named after Benton, including Oregon. However, university officials say the building is not named for the Missouri senator.
“What is now Benton Hall was renamed as such in 1947, in honor of the citizens of Benton County who funded the construction of the building in the late 1880s,” said Landis.
The case for renaming: Gill Coliseum was named for Amory “Slats” Gill, who was OSU’s basketball coach for around three decades ending in 1964, after which he served as athletic director. Student protesters claim Gill refused to integrate his team.
“I don't have evidence that he outright refused to integrate the basketball team, but he only had one African-American player during his time as coach,” Landis said. “That player was a track athlete who was a walk-on for the basketball team and played for part of one season (1960 or 1961). After Gill stepped down as coach, he became the athletic director. His top assistant, Paul Valenti, took over as head coach. Valenti made strides with integrating the team, including the first scholarship given to an African-American player, Charlie White, for the 1964-65 season.”
Anthony Rimel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 541-758-9526, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.