One of America's most prestigious universities paid $1.2 million to the United Daughters of the Confederacy to change a building's name

Vanderbilt UniversityFlickr / Kevin OliverA building on Vanderbilt’s campus.

Vanderbilt University announced on Monday that it will change the name of Confederate Memorial Hall, a dormitory whose name invoked racial segregation, The Tennessean reported.

The removal, which the school had tried to complete for more than a decade, came with a hefty $1.2 million price tag.

Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos wrote a note to the Vanderbilt community explaining the need for the change:

“Ever since I joined the Vanderbilt community in 1987, the residence hall bearing the inscription Confederate Memorial Hall has been a symbol of exclusion, and a divisive contradiction of our hopes and dreams of being a truly great and inclusive university…

They have decided that it is now time to move our university forward again, to remove the pediment, and in every way to recognise the building as Memorial Hall.”

Vanderbilt attempted to change the dormitory’s name in 2002, but was sued by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, who gifted Vanderbilt $50,000 in 1935 for the building.

A court decided that Vanderbilt could change the name only after repaying the gift in the current dollar amount, approximately $1.2 million.

In Zeppos’ note, he indicated that generous anonymous donors made it possible for the university to pay back the gift in full.

The move to rename buildings with racist connotations has swept college campuses across the nation over the past several years.

At Yale, students and faculty have fought to remove the name of John C. Calhoun, a 19th-century alumnus who was a fervent supporter of slavery, from one of its 12 residential college.

Similarly, students at Princeton gave impassioned calls for the removal of all references to former US president Woodrow Wilson because of arguments that he was a racist and segregationist.

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