The SUNY New Paltz College Council voted by a 4-3 margin to approve the resolution to rename six campus buildings (Bevier Hall, Crispell Hall, Deyo Hall, DuBois Hall, Hasbrouck Dining Hall and Lefevre Hall), named for original Huguenot patentees of the Village of New Paltz who also owned enslaved people.
“I’m so pleased with this forward-looking outcome,” said President Donald P. Christian. “It is the right move for the campus at this time, as we strive to be a leader in meeting the educational needs of all New Yorkers. Indeed, I regard this as a historic moment for the College, and I am grateful to the College Council for their support.”
The successful resolution to rename the buildings has the support of the student government, faculty senate, the Board of Trustees of Campus Auxiliary Services, the Executive Committee of the New Paltz chapter of United University Professionals (the union that represents academic and professional faculty), Village of New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers and Deputy Mayor KT Tobin, multiple academic departments, the senior leadership of the College and President Christian.
The authority to name buildings or change building names at SUNY campuses rests with the campus College Council, and thereafter with the SUNY Board of Trustees.
The College Council will now consider new names, based on the recommendations of the study group on alternate building names for the Hasbrouck Complex. The approval of replacement names is the responsibility of the College Council. Following their decision about replacement names, the SUNY Board of Trustees will take up this issue, which is the final step for approval of the resolution to rename the buildings.
President Christian has also announced that the College is moving forward with plans to develop a contemplative space on campus, as recommended by the Diversity & Inclusion Council, to preserve and present the College’s history openly, fully and honestly.
He has formed a group to make recommendations this spring about such a space and other educational materials and programming on campus. These will highlight the history of the original Huguenot settlers and their link to slavery, the history of enslaved Africans and their descendants, the history of the indigenous people before and after European settlement and the many positive contributions of Huguenot descendants.
“I am committed to ensuring that we continue to keep the Huguenot names and the many contributions of these families alive on our campus,” President Christian said.
The College Council resolution marks an important step forward in the campus-wide dialogue about renaming these buildings.
In 2017, President Christian directed the Diversity & Inclusion Council, made up of students, faculty and staff, to lead this conversation. The Council developed an inclusive and transparent process that included surveys, focus groups and town hall-style forums open to community members.
In May 2018 the Diversity & Inclusion Council reported their findings to President Christian with the conclusion that the Hasbrouck Complex buildings should be changed.
In August 2018, President Christian notified the campus community that he had reviewed and accepted the Council’s recommendations.
President Christian shared his recommendation with College Council members, and Student Association President N’della Seque, a voting member of the College Council, introduced a resolution to rename the buildings at the College Council’s Nov. 1, 2018 meeting.
Many students, faculty and community members attended that meeting and spoke passionately in support of the renaming. The Council ultimately postponed action on the resolution until their first meeting of the spring 2019 semester.
President Christian asked that the College Council use the postponement to give further consideration to both the renaming and to specific potential replacement names (read more in President Christian’s Nov. 6, 2018 Report to the Academic & Professional Faculty).
President Christian also formed a study group made up of College faculty and staff to lead a process for identifying alternate names for the buildings. That process included a campus-wide survey that yielded more than 3,000 responses from students, faculty and staff, alumni, and community members, including Huguenot descendants. He provided updates on that process in his Feb. 4, 2019 Report to the Academic & Professional Faculty.
Complete information about the Hasbrouck Complex Dialogue, including President Christian’s Feb. 21 report to the College Council and his subsequent message to campus in response to the Council’s vote, can be accessed at https://www.newpaltz.edu/diversity/hasbrouck-dialogue/overview/.