Hasty Forrest decision causes more problems than it solves

Posted: 11/20/06

A recent proposal passed in the Student Government Association that proposes to
change the name of the campus’ ROTC building. The building, named for Confederate
Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, recently came under fire from a temporary activist
group called Students Against Forrest Hall. The group says it takes issue with
the building being named after Forrest due to his role in the Confederate Army,
as well as citing his involvement in the Ku Klux Klan and his ownership of slaves.
The petition and proposal hope to pacify students who believe that the name and
memory of Forrest represent racism and negativity.

The group managed to acquire the necessary 50 signatures to be considered on
the SGA ballot, though the information circulated on their Facebook group was
certainly less than accurate.

Forrest’s name was chosen using the criteria set out by the building naming
committee, and, therefore, has violated no rules. The building is a military
building, and, as such, was named for a native Tennessean of historical importance,
who was renowned for his brilliant military tactics and his dedication to his
home. However, as Shakespeare wrote, "The evil that men do lives long after
their deaths, and the good is oft interred with their bones." The students
claim the negative association with Forrest far outweighs his positive memory.

However, when is it acceptable to begin removing history from campus based
only on a few students objections, which are themselves based on half-truths,
misinformation, and the admitted desire to just get out and stir up controversy
on campus? Is it fair to say, then, that these signatures truly represent the
general ideology as a whole?

Perhaps a better answer would be to really discuss the issues the building
may represent for some. The manner in which this decision was attempted and
made was both hasty and unbalanced. When a decision is made with no debate and
no discussion, it cannot possibly represent all of the viewpoints and emotions
caught up in an issue this complex. It is a slippery slope, and opens up too
many avenues of dissent, with no hope for a positive solution.
© Copyright 2006 The Sidelines

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