The name game

November 11, 2008

Now, that’s diversity!

The chairman of an Indiana University committee says the panel will recommend adding a black basketball player’s name to a gymnasium named after a longtime trustee who advocated racial segregation in the 1940s.

The committee will recommend renaming the Ora Wildermuth Intramural Center the William L. Garrett/Ora L. Wildermuth Fieldhouse, IU vice president Terry Clapacs told the Indiana Daily Student on Monday.

Garrett, who died in 1974, was the first black basketball player at IU.

[. . .]

Wildermuth wrote in a 1945 letter to an IU administrator that while he had no objections to giving blacks educational opportunities, “I am and shall always remain absolutely and utterly opposed to social intermingling of the colored race with the white.”

And the black player’s name will be first, so we know the school is being sensitive! Now, the school could have argued that it was leaving the name alone because it’s unfair to judge a long-ago figure by today’s standards, so just shut up and go on about your business. That might make some people mad, but it would have been defensible. Or it could have said that, because the name offends many people and the univeristy’s main obligation is to today’s students, the name was being changed. That would have made a different set of people mad, but it would have also been defensible. What is being recommended, however, is just plain silly.

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One Response to “The name game”

  1. gadfly Says:

    Wildermuth was obviously racist. He used the word “colored.” 🙂


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