A Middle Tennessee State University task force recommended on Tuesday evening that the name of Forrest Hall, the ROTC building on campus, be changed.
That recommendation did not include the discussion of alternative names for the building currently dedicated for controversial Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest.
MTSU President Sidney McPhee is expected to make a recommendation by the end of April on whether the university should formally call for a change for the building, said Andrew Oppmann, university vice president for marketing and communications.
The consensus decision, made with multiple dissents, is the first decision of what task force Chair Derek Frisby, a global studies professor, considered a lengthy path to completion if McPhee does call for a new name.
A majority of the Tennessee Board of Regents and two-thirds of the Tennessee Historical Commission would have to approve the name change for it to take effect, which Frisby estimated could come no sooner than spring 2018.
An appeals process also exists in the court system if the historical commission makes a decision.
“I think you kind of see this as a time-consuming process, and this is the first step of that,” Frisby said.
Students who supported the name change celebrated after the recommendation was announced.
While more than 15 students and supporters formed a circle synonymous with the Black Lives Matter movement and hugged each other after the decision, they said more students who weren’t there supported the recommendation.
“They’re with us,” said Leonard Brown, a former task force member who resigned midway through the process. “Even though they’re not here, they’re with us in spirit.”
Grant Marshall, a task force member and a Student Government Association representative, said a name change was the decision students could coalesce the most around.
“For the students of this campus, I think this is the most unifying decision the university can make,” Marshall said.
The 17-member task force was not unanimous in its decision. Former state Rep. Mike Liles called for the Forrest Hall name to remain after saying that the Confederate general was still renowned in the community for his raid to save captives at the Rutherford County Courthouse during the Civil War.
Source: Daily News Journal | Brian Wilson, [email protected]