University Holds Second Public Forum On Simkins Hall Debate

Simkins Residence HallThe second of two scheduled public forums on the Simkins Hall debate was held today, allowing members of the University’s far-reaching family to give their opinions on the possible re-naming of the all-men’s dorm.

Gregory Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement, moderated the 90-minute forum, which saw around a dozen people speak of the 75 in attendance.

Vincent said that he and several others will make a recommendation by the end of the month to President Bill Powers, who will in turn make his recommendation to the Board of Regents for a final decision.

For those who haven’t been following this story so far, there is a vigorous debate taking place about whether to rename the dormitory. That’s because William Simkins, a law professor at the University from 1899-1929, was also a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Public opinion at the forum today was around 80 percent

in favor of changing the name, according to my entirely unofficial and unscientific reading.

The forum was pretty civil, save for one exchange. A man asked Vincent to reveal who else in the room would be giving their opinion to President Powers. Vincent refused.

The man went on to call the whole ordeal a disgrace, saying that the forum was nothing more than posturing by people who had already made their decision. Without President Powers or the regents present for the public discussion, he said, the forum was a sham. (This man was for changing the name, by the way.)

Vincent seemed steadfast in his own opinion, and though he did not say what it was it cannot be hard to imagine. President Powers has said he wants a recommendation from Vincent’s group by the end of June. He has not said yet when he will make his recommendation to the regents. 

If you want to read up on just how this all got started, check out the website of Thomas Russell, the former UT law professor whose article on Simkins inspired this debate. He has his article, as well as links to previous media coverage of the debate. Even the Wall Street Journal had a piece on the controversy today.

UT Student Government and Vincent’s office have set up an e-mail address for people wishing to express their opinions on the matter. Here it is.

Editor’s Note: The Texas Exes do not have an opinion on whether to rename the dorm and will support whatever the regents and the University decide.


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