USC students call for name change of Sims Dorm
COLUMBIA, S.C. —
Earlier this week the statue of J. Marion Sims was removed from New York City's Central Park because of the controversy surrounding his work.
Sims, known as the "Father of Gynecology", performed experiments on several enslaved women without the use of anesthesia in the 19th century.
Sims has strong ties to the Palmetto State; he was born in Rock Hill and graduated from the University of South Carolina. A dorm in the women's quad is named after him.
"I find it ironic that Women's Quad is named after a racist," says USC student Tahrea Sherman. "He may have made really good contributions to medicine but at the expense of black people, that's unacceptable."
Sherman studied Sims in a Women's Health class.
"He's known as the father of gynecology and he took advantage of enslaved black women and that is a shame," explains Sherman.
"It just doesn't feel right to live in a dorm honoring someone who did horrible things like that," says Freshman student Georgia Smith, who lives in Sims Dorm. She told WACH FOX News that she would like to see the name changed.
However, a statement the University gave to WACH FOX News explains why it may be challenging to change the name:
"USC is committed to having every member of the Carolina family feel that the campus community is theirs without limitation. To that end, we have been working actively to bring the complete story of our campus history to light so that we can all learn from it. Our efforts began with the dedication of the Desegregation Garden in 2013, the 2017 installation of two plaques acknowledging the contribution of enslaved people to the construction and vibrancy of our original campus and, most recently, erecting a statue of USC’s first African-American professor, Richard T. Greener, who served during Reconstruction.
These installations won’t mark the culmination of our efforts. They are significant milestones but our conversation will continue. Our challenge, however, with changing the names of existing buildings or monuments results from restrictions in the South Carolina Heritage Act. This legislation is very specific and forbids the university and other public entities from renaming buildings or removing existing monuments. To do so requires a 2/3 vote of the General Assembly.
We, then, must rely on our creativity to evolve in our efforts to continue to tell our complete story and explore possible solutions. While not ideal for all, our approach does call on our community to act as our best selves and approach solutions with civility while not shying away from difficult conversations. You may also be interested in the editorial published by The State celebrating this approach and recommending others in across South Carolina pursue similar efforts."
If the name can't be changed, Sherman hopes people will educate themselves about the issue, saying, "it's a shame that we allow him to have this fame and we allow him to get the name on Women's Quad."