ECU student Jay Garcia, standing at lower left, speaks to members of the ECU Board of Trustees, who listened to opinions on the proposed renaming of Aycock Residence Hall during the first of two public forums Jan. 26. The second forum is set for Jan. 27 on the Health Sciences campus. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)


Trustees listen as ECU community debates Aycock renaming

Jan. 27, 2015

By Kelly Setzer
ECU News Services

More than 100 people gathered at Wright Auditorium on Monday afternoon to express their views on the possible renaming of an East Carolina University residence hall.

The forum was the first of two, and will allow Board of Trustees members to hear the opinions of the university community. Ten board members were in attendance for the first session, which focused on gathering students’ viewpoints.

“Our hope is that people who perhaps are on different sides will be able to listen and hear each other and thus come away with a better understanding,” Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Brinkley said. “This is a complicated issue, one that draws strong feelings, and the trustees’ role in these forums is to listen.”
ECU senior Tyree Barnes shares his opinion with the board during the Jan. 26 forum.

The second forum—geared toward employees, alumni and the community—will take place at 4 p.m. Jan. 27 in the East Carolina Heart Institute auditorium.

Opened in 1960, the residence hall on College Hill was named for Charles B. Aycock, a former governor, lawyer, federal prosecutor and school superintendent who served as a spokesperson for white supremacy campaigns at the turn of the century.

Requests to revisit the naming of the residence hall were first heard from alumni and the university community early last year. An ad hoc naming committee made a recommendation to the chancellor last month, and he communicated his recommendation about the naming to the board at its December meeting. The board decided to delay its vote until the next scheduled meeting on Feb. 19-20.

ECU junior Amy Bright was among the approximately 40 speakers at the forum. She said she was unfamiliar with Governor Aycock before the issue arose on campus. After doing some research, she concluded that the residence hall should be renamed.

“We cannot allow a dorm that houses minorities to be named for a man who represented white supremacy,” she said during the forum. “We can do the easy thing, which is not the right thing. Or we can do the hard thing, which is the right thing.”

Senior Adam Caldwell shared a different perspective. “We are setting a standard if we change this name that will have to be applied all across campus,” he said. “I cannot see how, if we are to change Aycock, the names of Jarvis or Wright or other buildings can continue to exist.”

The ad hoc naming committee will record and use feedback from both public forums to update its recommendation to the chancellor by Feb. 11.

For more information about Aycock Residence Hall and the work of the ad hoc naming committee, visit www.ecu.edu/aycock.

Pictured below, ECU Board of Trustees chairman Robert Brinkley, far left, addresses the Jan. 26 forum. Ten board members were on hand to hear opinions about the proposed renaming of Aycock Hall.