A university residential college named after James Madison may change its name in order to promote “sustainable” racial change.
The interim dean of Michigan State University’s James Madison residential college announced that the internal college is considering a name change in an attempt to advance “racial equity.” In a letter addressed to James Madison students, alumni, and friends, interim dean Linda Racioppi and assistant dean Jeff Judge presented ways the residential college plans to address policies and practices that “disadvantage people of color,” including a commitment to consider the removal of the founding father from campus.
“After the summer break, we plan to engage in reconsideration of the name of the college,” the letter says. “The latter will need to incorporate the perspectives of students, staff, faculty, and alumni. If these groups should support a name change, we would then proceed through the University governance process.”
James Madison college alumni voiced disapproval of the university’s targeting of the nation’s fourth president. Michigan State alumnus Spike Dearing told the Washington Free Beacon the college embodies the intellectual rigor of Madison.
“James Madison was an intellectual giant of his time…. His place in history is defined by his efforts to shape and craft the U.S. Constitution,” Dearing said. “Our college is named after him because we too value academic achievement, intense deliberation, and a liberal society where our differences need not be our undoing.”
Neither the university nor Racioppi responded to requests for comment, and it is unclear what names are being considered to replace Madison.
College campuses across the nation have begun to reevaluate and remove names and statues that commemorate the Founding Fathers and other former presidents. Princeton University scrubbed Woodrow Wilson’s name from their campus, causing a domino effect at other institutions bearing the name of the Democratic president. Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are petitioning the school to remove a statue of Abraham Lincoln, citing its “racist origins.”
Sam Larey, president of the MSU chapter of Turning Point USA, said that if the administrators bow to “ridiculous” demands from a sliver of activists, they may have to make other changes on campus.
“If this is the case, and we truly are seeking to become inclusive, we must … rename the Michigan State Spartans because Spartans enslaved, conquered, raped and pillaged … disavow the campus as we are on ‘stolen land,’ and ban international study to Egypt as those students visit the pyramids, which were constructed by slaves. This is, of course, ridiculous.”
Some students and alumni are open to a potential name change and say they want to hear what minority students and faculty have to say about Madison’s presence on campus. Anisa Dagher, a 2020 graduate from the James Madison college, told the Free Beacon that she does not believe it is her place to decide what is or is not offensive to people of color.
“I don’t think James Madison was a great person, but I can understand why the college was named that to begin with. I can understand why some may want it to be changed and I would support that,” Dagher said. “It isn’t my place to decide whether or not the name is offensive because it isn’t offensive toward me…. I am curious as to what they would want to change it to that would represent what the college teaches while at the same time remaining inoffensive to students and faculty of color.”
Chrissy Clark is a staff reporter at the Washington Free Beacon. She reports on college campuses and issues of higher education. Her work is featured in The Federalist and The Daily Signal. Chrissy received her degree in political science from Michigan State University. Follow her on social media @chrissyclark_ or contact her at email@example.com.