UNC Trustees Vote To Change 'Saunders Hall' to 'Carolina Hall'

May 28, 2015

Saunders Hall on UNC-Chapel Hill campus.
Credit Mr. Granger / Wikipedia

Trustees at UNC-Chapel Hill voted 10-3 this morning to drop the name from Saunders Hall.

The building was named in 1920 for Confederate Colonel and UNC alumnus and trustee William Lawrence Saunders. Saunders served as North Carolina Secretary of State from 1879 until 1891. Saunders was also a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Trustee Chuck Duckett says he originally opposed changing the name. Then he saw that the 1920 trustees cited Saunders' KKK affiliation as an favorable quality for naming the building after him. But the Klan was an illegal organization in Saunders' lifetime.

William Saunders
Credit Mr. Granger / Wikipedia

"It's not necessarily about Saunders as much as... It was a mistake to do that. It was a mistake to list it as an attribute. It wasn't an attribute. I don't understand why they did that and that was the defining moment for me."

A University statement says the current trustees have decided the building will now become Carolina Hall.

Trustees also instated a 16-year moratorium on building name changes to give the university time to create a plan that will curate the history of buildings with questionable names. (i.e. Gov. Charles B. Aycock supported public education—and segregation. He also has a UNC-Chapel Hill building named after him.)

"It is part of a comprehensive approach. So we're going to ensure that students who are on campus years from now, and they come and they see Carolina Hall, understand what they mean, or at least what the history of the building is," said James Gregory, a spokesman for UNC-Chapel Hill.

A plaque in Carolina Hall will read: "We honor and remember all those who have suffered injustices at the hands of those who would deny them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."