Vice President of Equity and Inclusion at Stony Brook University, Judith Brown Clarke, presented her department’s initiatives to rename Sanger Hall, as well as other buildings on campus, at a USG meeting on Sept. 16.
The process of renaming Sanger Hall would be done through the Renaming Buildings, Structures and Spaces Ad Hoc Committee, which was formed this past May and has not yet convened. A form will be available on the Office of the President’s website for students to recommend a new name.
“This committee just formed,” Assistant Dean of Students Jeffrey Barnett, who was observing the meeting, said. “Now that the structure and process is in place, when a complaint is rendered, that would be the first issue that the new committee would pick up.”
Virda expressed concern regarding the student representation on this committee. “Only a quarter of the committee is represented by students,” Virda said. “This is not something you consider as more representation needed on behalf of students at this point?”
Clarke said that student representation will remain at 25% for the time being.
Caitlyn Miller, a former USG senator and senior mathematics major, and Malhar Virda, a current USG senator and senior political science major, led a movement to change the name of Sanger Hall, and posted a petition on Change.org. The petition has amassed 407 signatures out of its intended signature goal of 500.
Sanger Hall, located in Tabler Community, is named after Margaret Sanger, an American women’s rights and birth control activist known for founding Planned Parenthood. Sanger held beliefs in eugenics, advocating for selective breeding and sterilization of the mentally ill.
“We must learn from the past and acknowledge how her views are harmful,” the petition said. “It’s time for Stony Brook University to move away from this eugenic past and make the university more inclusive.”
Clarke presented an introduction to Stony Brook’s diversity initiatives and progress thus far. Every college, center and medical college, has a diversity, equity and inclusion committee that has been trained and organized to specifically promote diversity in every aspect of campus life, according to Clarke. Additionally, every college has an associate dean or director with diversity, equity and inclusion in their job description.
There are currently 67 diversity committees across all Stony Brook colleges. “It is imperative that we have student voices on those committees,” Clarke said. “It is extremely important that your voice is at the table on main issues.”
The webpage for Diversity at Stony Brook includes the full Diversity Plan and Implementation Work Plan, and offers a Diversity Plan Feedback Form that allows students to offer suggestions for amendments to the plan.
Senators also voiced concerns surrounding the anti-vaccine mandate protest that occurred at the Academic Mall on Sept. 12, especially regarding a threat on the Long Island Loud Majority Facebook group claiming a protester would be armed.
When asked about safety concerns that many students had, Clarke stated that the protesters were not armed.
“We had undercover individuals that were there,” Clarke said. “And I think that sometimes you saw people that were wearing clothes that were armed, and people interpreted that as people that were attending.”
According to Clarke, the administration was in contact with the FBI and regional police departments. Stony Brook University Police were also on site at the protest.
“This was the most secure place to be on Sunday,” Clarke said.