By Michelle Lampariello
College President R. Barbara Gitenstein has accepted a recommendation to change the name of Paul Loser Hall, which will be taken to the College’s Board of Trustees for formal consideration.
Gitenstein announced her decision to follow the recommendation of the Advisory Commission on Social Justice: Race and Educational Attainment, co-chaired by John Donohue, vice president for college advancement, and Christopher Fisher, associate professor of history, in a campus-wide email on Monday, May 15.
“I concur that while a decision to rename a building should never be taken lightly, there are times when such actions should be taken. I believe that this is one of those times. Since I have such personal admiration for members of the Loser family, I come to this conclusion with sadness but without regret,” Gitenstein wrote.
Controversy regarding the name of Loser Hall began with findings from students in professor Robert McGreevey’s history class, who conducted archival research on the city of Trenton and discovered that “Dr. Loser, as superintendent of Trenton schools from 1932-1955, supported and maintained a segregated school system,” according to a report from the Advisory Commission.
Gitenstein’s decision also aligns with the TCNJ Committee on Unity, which held a sit-in that took place in Gitenstein’s conference room for roughly 26 hours — from April 26 to April 27— in which TCU advocated for the name of Loser Hall to be changed and for the TCNJ Clinic to remain open, both of which have now been addressed by the president.
TCU published a statement on Facebook on Monday, May 15, in support of Gitenstein’s decision to take the Advisory Commission’s recommendation to the Board of Trustees, which read: “The TCNJ Committee on Unity would like to thank the Commission and President Gitenstein for taking this important step to begin repairing TCNJ’s relationship with Trenton. We would also like to thank the members of the TCU and all our supporters, as this would not have been possible without your help. Never forget the power of student activism. Together we are strong.”
Several suggestions for potential new names for the building have been proposed, including Admissions Hall, Trenton State Hall, Legacy Hall and Lions Hall, according to a report from the Advisory Commission.
Still, the Board of Trustees has the final say on whether or not the name of the building will change.
“As the president noted in her message, only the Board of Trustees has the power to change the name of a building,” said Dave Muha, the College’s spokesperson. “Unless and until the Board of Trustees acts on this recommendation, it would be inappropriate to speculate on anything that might follow.”