Controversial Duke residence hall gets new name

Jun. 17, 2014 @ 04:57 PM

The Duke University residence hall with a controversial namesake got renamed this week.

Aycock Hall, a freshman dormitory on East Campus named after former North Carolina Gov. Charles Aycock, is now known – again -- as East Residence Hall.
It’s the first name the dorm had after it was built.
Duke President Richard Brodhead announced the new name in a message to student leaders Monday night. The Board of Trustees executive committee agreed to it at a meeting Friday, six months after Duke Student Government passed a resolution urging a change.
The old name drew fire because of Aycock’s ties to the white supremacy movement of the early 20th century.
In his letter, Brodhead explained, the decision to change the building’s name wasn’t taken lightly.
“When a building is named at Duke, there must be the strongest possible presumption that the name will be permanent,” he said. “However, the history of Aycock Hall is unusual and singular.”
Aycock wasn’t a graduate of Trinity College – the original name of Duke University. He wasn’t involved in college affairs. He didn’t provide funds for the cost of the building with naming rights as part of the deal.
“Further, while Gov. Aycock made notable contributions to public education in North Carolina, his legacy is inextricably associated with the disenfranchisement of black voters, or what W.E.B. DuBois termed ‘a civic death.’”
Now, 50 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in a year when Duke commemorated integration at the university, university leaders agreed it was time for a change.
“After careful consideration, we believe it is no longer appropriate to honor a figure who played so active a role in the history that countered those values,” Brodhead said.
The residence hall’s lobby will feature an explanation of the history of the building’s name, he said.

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