By: Marcus Whitman, Staff Writer
Photo by Brendan Felch/ The Towerlight
Tigers For Justice, a Towson University student organization, started a petition on Feb. 21 to change the names of West Village dorms, Paca House and Carroll Hall.
The dorms are named after slave owners William Paca and Charles Carroll. It is Tigers for Justice’s goal to change the names of the dorms to something less controversial.
According to Sean Welsh, TU’s associate vice president of university marketing and media relations, Paca House and Carroll Hall were named in 2008 and 2015, respectively.
Jordan Smith, a junior majoring in mass communication, is a member of “Tigers for Justice.” Smith thinks the petition is an important tool for outreach and connecting with others who feel the same about the cause.
“I feel like a petition is just one way to show that these are people who support what we’re fighting for,” Smith said. “We have Towson members supporting us. It’s like over a thousand Towson members supporting us. People who don’t even go to Towson are supporting us. That’s the reason why [we started the petition].”
In 2017, the University determined that there was a need to establish a policy “as well as an inclusive, transparent process for naming administrative, academic, and residential buildings on TU’s campus,” Welsh said.
“A university-wide committee was formed in that year comprised of faculty, staff and students to develop the policy that is currently in effect,” Welsh said. “[The policy] details the process for the naming, withdrawal or renaming of a building on the university’s campus,” Welsh said.
Sarah Fishkind, a TU freshman majoring in political science, is also a member of Tigers For Justice. She explained how the petition got started.
“We started this whole movement-type thing after the social justice retreat because we were all given a task to make, create an event or an initiative that will make the Towson community better,” Fishkind said. “We decided on this.”
A similar petition to change the names of Paca House and Caroll Hall was started in 2013. The petition and got sent to a committee but ended there. According to Welsh, the university “appreciate[s] the concerns raised by this group of students.”
“TU’s policy on the naming of facilities and academic programs details the process for renaming a building or program,” Welsh said. “At this time, we have not received any formal requests for a withdrawal or renaming, as described in the policy, regarding this issue.”
According to TU student Kyle Stewart, he was “honestly shocked” when he heard about the petition.
“I feel like if everywhere at Towson is about promoting equality, kindness, support of others, and overall diversity and racial equality, I feel like if you want to throw that and have it be one of the main things about Towson, then we can’t have racism still existing as part of our labels,” Stewart said.
According to TU student Ozair Huassain, he is unsure what will happen for renaming the dorms but believes it should not be up to the students.
“I’m not sure if the students should have a vote in the new name of the building if it is changed,” he said. “I feel like that is giving the student body too much power over that decision. But, they should definitely have a say in it. I just don’t know how what’ll happen.”