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The Committee to Establish Principles and Processes for Reconsideration of Names, Statuary, Monuments and Traditions

Submitted By: The Committee to Establish Principles and Processes for Reconsideration of Names, Statuary, Monuments and Traditions.

Date: December 22, 2020

The Committee met once a week since receiving our charge. We have reviewed principles and procedures in place on other campuses and discussed some case studies from other campuses and our own history, always informed by relevant scholarship. We drafted a statement of principles to guide decision makers at DePauw through a response to a potential petition and we established a process for the review and potential resolution of the petition. We have collected some additional recommendations as well. The Committee also recommends that all documentation created by or presented to the Committee, including but not limited to, petitions, research, meeting minutes, presentations, feedback, and reports are submitted to Archives and Special Collections for preservation and access. Access restrictions can be applied if privacy concerns are applicable. Further, there may be value in ongoing research about historical and contextual information about DePauw’s various buildings, statuary, and traditions.

The Committee was disbanded upon completion of this work.

Committee members included:

Faculty: Julia Bruggemann (Co-Chair), Sarah Cowan

Staff: Amanda Kim (Co-Chair), Dawna Wilson, Juli Smith, Jeannette Johnson-Licon, Bethany Fiechter

Students: Whitney Weinschenk, Georgianna Port, Derrick Ousley

Alumni/BOT: Max Hittle, Eric Wolfe


Guiding Principles

Our university traditions should be grounded in the mission, vision and values of DePauw University. We pride ourselves on providing a diverse and inclusive learning and living experience with a rich history. DePauw was envisioned by its founders to be an ecumenical institution of national stature that would be “conducted on the most liberal principles, accessible to all religious denominations, and designed for the benefit of our citizens in general.”

Our institutional commitment to rigorous intellectual engagement, when applied to our traditions, means that DePauw University will exercise careful stewardship in providing naming and renaming opportunities to recognize individuals, landmarks and entities. Renaming opportunities are recognized to be rare and exceptional events and serve as critical moments for teaching and learning. Therefore, the research and evaluation should be conducted with due diligence, in a fair and unbiased manner. This will ensure that the language, history and traditions are consistent with the university’s stated values and allows for all community members to be included in the process. Our conversations and decisions should reflect our institutional values of Curiosity, Diversity, Inclusion, and employ the language of equity, belonging and community.

A key institutional goal of DePauw University is to prepare graduates to support and create positive changes in their communities and the world. To that end, as much as possible, we should foreground the experiences and perspective of people from historically under-represented and marginalized communities, reduce harm to vulnerable communities and increase access to education at all levels.


Reconsideration Process

  1. Petition
    An institution’s history, building and facility names, monuments, statues and other honorific traditions (“Traditions”) may need to be re-considered for various reasons. Traditions, for the purposes of this process should be of a campus-wide nature (rather than within a particular department, unit or student organization) that necessitates consideration on behalf of the university. Any member of the DePauw Community may initiate a reconsideration of a Tradition by filing a written petition.
    1. The petition should contain, at a minimum, the following:
      1. The name, address and contact information of the petitioner(s);
      2. The petitioner’s position in the DePauw Community (i.e. Student, alumnus, faculty, staff, parent);
      3. A detailed description of the Tradition for reconsideration;
      4. The history, genesis, or development of the Tradition, if known; and when the Tradition became a part of DePauw’s history, if known;
      5. How or why the Tradition no longer aligns with DePauw University’s Mission, Vision and Values, or the Principles of Campus Traditions suggested by the Committee to Establish Principles and Processes for the Reconsideration of Names, Statuary, Monuments and Traditions;
      6. How the petitioner has been harmed by the Tradition, and the identity of others who likewise may have been harmed by the Tradition;
      7. The specific redress sought by the petitioner.
    2. Expectations regarding the petition(er).
      1. The petitioner is expected to have conducted some research, engaged in serious consideration and have a compelling argument for the Committee’s consideration.
      2. The petition should be signed and dated by the petitioner and submitted to the Committee or individual designated by the President to receive them. There is no required number of signatures to support the submission of a petition.
      3. The petitioner(s) will be expected to be available to share and discuss additional research, information, insight and other support for the petition.
  2. Research and Community Engagement
    1. “Reconsideration Committee” membership and duties
      1. The President is to appoint members to a Standing Committee to review and respond to the petitions. The Committee will be given a DePauw email address in order to properly direct communication and preserve their status as an ongoing Committee.
      2. The Standing Committee membership should be expanded to a full committee when a petition has been identified for review and consideration. The membership of the full Committee should broadly represent the constituents of DePauw University. The following makeup is suggested: two representatives from each group: students, faculty, staff, and alumni (one member of the Board of Trustees and one member of the Alumni Board).
      3. The full Committee sets the calendar for the process and provides updates to the community.
    2. Committee receives and reviews and provides preliminary responses to the petitions.
      1. Every petition received by the Committee should be responded to by the Committee.
      2. Upon review of the petition, some petitions may be denied for further consideration due to insufficient information, lack of merit, or other appropriate reasons to be determined by the Committee upon its formation.
      3. The Committee may request the petitioner to provide a presentation to the Committee and address any concerns that emerged in the petition review process with the goal of providing additional insights into the request.
      4. The Committee is empowered to host town hall-style public forums with the goals of providing updates and listening to the members of the campus and Greencastle communities.
      5. Feedback is collected by the Committee for review and research.
    3. Committee conducts research by engaging the following people/offices and others as relevant:
      1. Archives - request and review primary and secondary sources to understand the history, meaning, and context of issue at hand.
      2. Stewardship Office - review of contract with donor(s), interpret donor intent and understand the legal constraints, if any.
      3. Office of Alumni Engagement- reach out to any alumni or alumni groups that may have relevant information.
      4. Faculty - request academic resources the Committee could use as a basis for understanding relevant historical, social, political, and/or artistic contexts.
      5. Students - determine impact on student living, wellness, equity, and inclusivity.
      6. Office of Admissions - estimate impact on future students, if any.
    4. Committee dialogues with the campus community to gather feedback before further deliberation.
      1. Committee prepares presentation of research-to-date.
      2. Committee presents research and provides updates at a town-hall style community forum.
      3. Representatives from the Committee gather input from constituencies at times and places that make sense to them (i.e. a student forum might be held on campus when classes are not in session, alumni forum might be held online or during a campus alumni event, etc.).
      4. Feedback from the town-hall forum and constituency meetings are collected for review.
  3. Review and Outcome
    1. Committee makes a final review of the proposal, research and feedback from the campus community.
      1. Answers the following questions:
        1. Is there significant community (students, faculty, staff, alumni) support for reconsideration?
        2. Does the name/honorific/monument reflect the current values of the University?
        3. Is the offensive behavior central to or inextricable from the honoree’s public persona?
        4. Does the harm caused by retaining the name/honorific/monument outweigh the harm caused by changing the name/honorific/monument?
        5. What legal or donor policy constraints exist, if any?
        6. What proposed changes or feedback from community forums should be implemented?
        7. How would changes, if any, be presented educationally to the community and be values-driven?
      2. Invite the original petitioners to discuss the process so far.
        1. Allow petitioners to provide feedback and changes to the original proposal.
        2. Ask petitioners any lingering questions.
        3. Discuss possible recommendations and rationale.
      3. Weigh the totality of information gathered and make a recommendation to accept, accept with modification, or deny the action requested in the petition. The basis for the specific recommendation should be provided (rationale).
      4. Outline the changes to be made, if any, next steps, and proposed timeline.
    2. Committee writes a report that includes an outline of the request/proposal made, a summary of the research conducted, a summary of feedback from campus forums, a summary of the factors that led the Committee’s recommendation, and the Committee’s recommendation and submits it to the President. The Committee will also notify the petitioner.
    3. Appeal
      1. Petitioners or other community members may appeal the Committee’s recommendation within 30 days from the receipt of said recommendation.
      2. The appeal must be in writing based on one or both of the following criteria:
        1. The process in place was not followed,
        2. New information that was not previously available comes to light
      3. The appeal should be submitted to the Committee which will be forwarded to the President.
      4. The President (or appointees) would consider the appeal, review the report and make a recommendation of potential action to be taken.
    4. The President will present the recommendation to the Board of Trustees for action at the next available opportunity.