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ISU to rename floors in Watterson Towers

Watterson Towers located at 315 South Fell Avenue in Normal. (Photo Illinois State University)

NORMAL (WJBC) – Illinois State University on Thursday announced it will rename floors in the Watterson Towers residence hall to support equality and social justice.

Our news partner WJBC reports, the renaming effort comes in the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd.

“The path seeking social justice has circled back to the historical artifacts that continue to reflect our country’s pattern of intolerance and systemic racism,” said ISU president Larry Dietz. “Over the past several months, America has re-examined many symbols of bigotry—statues, monuments, flags, plaques, and works of art—and has removed them in a mass demonstration of support for equality and social justice.”

Opened in 1968, Watterson Towers consists of 10 “houses.” The houses are named after the first 10 former U.S. Secretaries of States. Out of the 10 names, eight actively took part in the system of slavery.

The process of change was underway by university housing services when a petition started from former Watterson Towers residential assistants asking for the houses to be renamed. The university naming committee is working toward new floor designations with changes scheduled to be in place in the fall.

“Asking students to live in places that carry the names of those who represent centuries of oppression and systemic injustice becomes part of the trauma that racism inflicts on people every day,” noted Interim Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion Doris Houston.

Watterson Towers is one of the world’s tallest residence halls and is the tallest point between Chicago and St. Louis.

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