Gov. Edwards issues statement in support of renaming Middleton Library on LSU campus
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Governor John Bel Edwards issued a statement Thursday, June 11 in support of renaming Middleton Library on LSU’s campus.
The library is currently named for Troy H. Middleton, who is a former LSU president who supported racial segregation. A group of students announced Wednesday night that the library will be renamed, pending board approval.
Gov. Edwards released the following statement:
“I support changing the name of Middleton Library at Louisiana State University, in acknowledgement that segregation is and was wrong.
Throughout history, students have always led and been integral to transforming our state and country for the better. I applaud the African American student leaders, and the many who came before them, for their bravery and tireless efforts to bring about this change. As an LSU alumnus, I applaud the leadership of LSU for being open to their concerns, taking action, and working to bring greater diversity to the university.
We cannot change what has happened in the past and this does not erase a history of racial injustice. But we can choose to no longer glorify a time of racial segregation or those who sought to discriminate against our African American brothers and sisters.
The past several weeks have been a painful reckoning in our country and our state. The conversations we are having – on campuses, in board rooms and at our own kitchen tables – since the senseless death of George Floyd are long overdue. I am confident that we can come together as the diverse people that we are to confront inequality and become a more inclusive and just community. And I am heartened to see our tenacious young people leading the charge. I am praying for all of us as we take on this challenge.”
The following letter was sent out to the LSU community Thursday, June 11:
Dear LSU Family,
Last night, we held a summit with a fantastic group of Black student leaders that culminated a week of eye-opening conversations to determine concrete steps our university can take to address inequities on campus to become a more inclusive and diverse culture. We have listened, and now it’s time for LSU to prove its commitment.
The actions we’re outlining today will not immediately solve every issue we need to address. Thus, we have committed to ongoing conversations so that we continue to make progress. As we move forward, mistakes will surely be made. However, if we continue to work together in a spirit of collaboration, we are confident our mistakes will lead to continued forward progress.
Effective immediately, we are taking the following actions to address a platform of concerns that Black student leaders on campus have presented us:
Increase the ratio of minority professionals in every academic area.
To achieve this in the short-term, we will increase and energize our existing Opportunity Hire initiative through the Office of Diversity. In the mid-term, we will deploy block hires as outlined in the University’s Roadmap to Diversity & Inclusion, and in the long-term we will develop a stronger pipeline to recruit students of color into academic careers and expand academic mentorship and retention.
Increase funding for minority programs and departments to positively affect the Black student experience.
In the short term, we have identified fundraising opportunities to support the African American Cultural Center— please consider giving at give.lsufoundation.org/aacc. In the mid-term, we’ll study the type of activities and programming that contribute most directly to Black student recruitment, retention, and engagement. And in the long-term, LSU will work to build seed funding and a development pipeline for these activities and programming.
Organize LSU resources specifically targeted towards minority students and workers dealing with mental health and trauma.
In the short-term, we’ll engage with students to explore building a mental health hotline or other forms of more immediate access to mental health. In the long-term we will work to increase the presence of Black and minority medical professionals on campus.
Address and correct issues of racism and discrimination on campus through the Student Code of Conduct and LSU Student Advocacy and Accountability.
In the short-term, we will explore new ways to bolster our Student Code of Conduct by adding specific language regarding diversity, racism and prejudice. In the mid-term, we’ll make the adjudication process more transparent through open communications. And in the long-term, we’ll conduct a policy audit to ensure that inclusion, diversity and anti-racism are appropriately embedded.
Make timely statements condemning racism and injustice and implement policies clearly outlining the University’s standard of disapproval.
LSU will publicly express condemnation of racism and racist behavior and continuing to investigate every instance of racism reported to us, pursuing the appropriate action through our Code of Conduct and any other policy or code available to us.
Include Black student representatives in University administration conversations that impact the student body.
In the short-term, the administration will continue to meet often with Black student leaders. These meetings will occur at least on a quarterly basis and more often as needed. We also commit to including diverse representation on executive searches and to providing diversity training for all search committees.
We are also taking the following steps to further ensure that our campus community is inclusive and welcoming to all. We commit to:
- Making inclusion a major part of university communications;
- Developing and implementing improved annual diversity training;
- Increasing community building opportunities for diverse students, faculty, and staff;
- Adding diversity offerings to New Employee Orientation; and
- Strengthening LSU’s position on diversity to reflect anti-racism.
Additionally, at the LSU Board of Supervisors meeting on June 19 we will consider a motion to remove the name Troy H. Middleton from LSU’s library. The library is a place where our students of color should feel welcome and safe as they study, learn, and congregate with their peers. Building and place names should not be a reminder of a racist past, reminders that inhibit our students’ learning and their full inclusion on campus. Our history is stained with racism; we must eradicate the present impact of that sad past. We will also convene a committee to review and study other building names on campus to determine if they are symbols or monuments to racism.
Today is a new beginning of our work to foster an inclusive campus community welcoming to all. We have made incredible strides in recent years to increase and promote diversity at LSU, but there’s a lot more work to be done. The actions we’re announcing today will further our efforts, but they won’t be the end of them.
We appreciate the candor and commitment of our outstanding Black student leaders, and we thank them for their work to bring our great university into a new day. We will continue our conversations with Black student leaders, our Black Faculty and Staff Caucus, and other representatives of under-represented communities in our LSU Family. Together we will take actions to eliminate inequality, racism, and other barriers that any members of our LSU community face. Diversity and inclusion are fundamental to LSU's mission, and our university is committed to creating and maintaining a living and learning environment that not only embraces individual difference but thrives because of it.
Thomas C. Galligan, Jr.LSU Interim President and Professor of Law
Mary L. WernerLSU Board of Supervisors Chair
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