MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Middle Tennessee State University is open to a discussion on renaming Forrest Hall.
The building, named after one-time Ku Klux Klan leader and Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest in 1954, houses the campus’ Army Reserve Officer Training Corps program.
“I didn’t pay attention to the name, and it doesn’t really bother me that bad as long as they’re supporting our troops inside of it,” said Wesley Alexander, a senior at the school.
“It’s a beautiful campus but that building. It just has to be changed; it’s not something I stand for,” said Dominic Cooper, another senior.
Many MTSU students News 2 spoke with feel that way and have expressed their views online with a new Facebook page created Tuesday.
“Immediately I joined up because there’s no doubt in my mind it should be changed,” said Catherine Noy, a junior.
MTSU President Sidney McPhee said Wednesday debate about renaming the hall surfaced through the years, but “in light of the horrific killings in Charleston” they decided it is “right and appropriate to reconsider the matter.”
According to the statement, there’s always been debate about the school’s ties to Forrest that have risen periodically through the civil rights era and beyond.
The university removed a 600-pound bronze medallion of Forrest from the Keathley University Center in 1989.
Officials noted opposition to the name of Forrest Hall heightened in 2006-07 when a number of students petitioned to change it due to Forrest’s ties to the KKK. Others supported keeping the name.
MTSU’s announcement comes in the wake of a national conversation surrounding Confederate symbolism following the mass shooting in Charleston.
In Nashville, lawmakers have called for the removal of Forrest’s bust from the state Capitol.
Williamson County is now evaluating a symbol, too. The official count seal includes a Confederate flag.
The county’s mayor, Rogers Anderson, said he got phone calls about the seal recently.
“It’s a sad situation that occurred in South Carolina,” said Anderson. “At this particular time, I think we always have to look at what we are doing and to reevaluate if we are offending people.”
Mayor Anderson said changing the seal would be up to the county commission.