Stony Brook University officials are recommending that President Maurie McInnis approve the renaming of Sanger College. McInnis will announce her decision this week.
The Renaming Buildings, Structures and Spaces Committee met with the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) on March 25 about renaming Sanger College in Tabler Community. If the president moves forward with the name change, the administration will poll students, faculty, staff and alumni for Sanger’s new name in April.
Since 2020, the student group Rename Sanger Initiative has campaigned to rebrand the building. Sanger College is named after Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, who advocated eugenics, a racist and ableist ideology based around rooting out the “unfit.” Planned Parenthood removed Sanger’s name from its Manhattan Health Center in 2020, disavowing Sanger’s racism.
“Our building names have to reflect our inclusiveness,” Judith Brown Clarke, Stony Brook’s vice president of Equity and Inclusion, said. “Will our campus tell you who we are?”
Students constituted 25% of the committee. USG Sen. Benjamin Joffe, who drafted the initial complaint with Malhar Virda and Trevor Kapuvari, made a presentation on Margaret Sanger’s legacy. Representation has been an issue for Stony Brook recently, as many students have not had Black professors.
According to a recent Statesman survey, 68% of Black students say they feel a need to assimilate at universities.
“Planned Parenthood precipitated our decision when they renamed their building,” Clarke said. There has been a national trend of rebranding buildings named after racist figures. Georgia is currently reviewing up to 750 structures named after Confederate figures. The University of Richmond is set to rename six buildings named after slave owners and eugenicists.
If Stony Brook chooses to rebrand Sanger, the University will consult the SUNY in the fall. No new names have been chosen, pending the upcoming poll.