Sidelines - 3/21/2016

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March 21, 2016


Vol. 90 | No. 5

DE-FORRESTATION Everything we know about Forrest Hall Sidelines | March 21, 2016 |



Campus Voices

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Understanding the controversy: A brief history of Nathan Bedford Forrest / page 4

A Timeline of the 2006 Forrest Hall Protests

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Editor-in-Chief Dylan Skye Aycock Managing Editor Sarah Grace Taylor Managing Editor John Connor Coulston News Editor Amanda Freuler Assistant News Editor Bennie Hunt Lifestyles Editor Tanner Dedmon Assistant Lifestyles Editor Brinley Hineman Assistant Lifestyles Editor Olivia Ladd Sports Editor Connor Grott Assistant Sports Editor Caleb Luketic Design Editor Anna Claire Farmer Design Editor Allison Ciccarelli Faculty Adviser Leon Alligood

The Evolution of MT’s Mascot / page 6

An Examination of the Forrest Hall Task Force

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Talented Tenth seeks change, starting with Forrest Hall

How Forrest Hall COULD receive a new name

Timeline: 2015-16 Protests

If not Forrest, then who?

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Cover art by Allison Ciccarelli and Anna Claire Farmer. Photo of Jessica Shotwell, senior, by Sarah Grace Taylor. Want to advertise with Sidelines? Email or for more information. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @MTSUSidelines.


Sidelines | March 21, 2016 |

Note from the Editor Whether you realize it or not, history is in the making right now at MTSU. This spring, a 16-person task force made up of students, faculty and community members created by President Sidney A. McPhee will help decide the fate of Forrest Hall, a military science building named after Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. To preface this special edition of Sidelines, the task force has been asked to recommend whether the building should be renamed, retain the name but with added historical perspective or recommend no action or change is warranted. With that in mind, the Tennessee Board of Regents and the Tennessee Historical Commission will have to approve any recommended name change. Sidelines isn’t taking an editorial stance, but we believe it’s is our job to provide the MTSU community with everything we know about the issue as of March 21. For the past month, we’ve researched Forrest and his presence on campus in the past, interviewed students and faculty and sifted through the archives for old stories and photos. While Sidelines is remaining neutral, I want to stress the importance of exercising your First Amendment right, especially during a critical time like now. Last summer, students in support of renaming Forrest Hall made their requests known by more than just a select few on social media, and both sides have expressed concerns during protests and public meetings. If you have a concern regarding Forrest Hall or any other issue in the MTSU community, I urge you make your voice heard, whether it’s through a Letter to the Editor, on social media or during a public forum as many have over the past year. Letters to the Editor can be sent to

Dylan Skye Aycock Editor in Chief

Campus Voices I recently transferred to MTSU, and was originally very happy with the state of racial diversity and tolerance on campus. My previous university had serious issues dismissing student concerns when it came to racial issues, and it was so refreshing to feel like my school was one I could be proud of, one that actually cared about and listened to their students. Reading Sideline’s latest article covering the Forrest Hall name change meetings was my first exposure to the Nathan Bedford Forrest name and history. I was stunned to learn that my university would choose to honor the man responsible for the Fort Pillow Massacre, and a founding member and leader of the Ku Klux Klan. The main arguments I’ve heard supporting the Forrest Hall name involve the word “heritage”. Men and women, many of them having never spent time as an MTSU student, are outraged that MTSU might choose not to honor their history. The only thing I have to say to that is, “what about my history?” What about the history of the thousands of African American students who are forced to walk past that building every single day? There are many facets of American history, of Southern heritage even, that deserve to be honored. The slaughter of African Americans is not one of them. Those who oppose the name change seem to think that they are the only ones who have a Southern history. They dismiss the fact that the vast majority of students on the MTSU campus also have a long Southern history and many of them have a much, much different take on the shared aspects of this history. My ancestors fought and died in the Civil War, as Confederate soldiers, and that is a fact I am deeply ashamed of. Why can we not honor our mutual southern heritage by naming the building after someone who fought for all of our rights as Americans, not one that fought to enslave a large percentage of this university’s student body? I’m horrified that our university seems to be so blasé about the violent history they are choosing to honor and I sincerely hope that those with the power to change this name decide to memorialize an aspect of our shared heritage that we can all be proud of.

In [race, class and gender in the media] class we discussed how MTSU is facing an issue with the name of its ROTC Building currently named “Forrest Hall.” We spoke on how many black people view the Confederate Flag as a symbol of hate and racism, while also noting that many white people who were born and raised around the flag only sees it as a form of pride. In short, we all look at the issue with many different viewpoints. If you were taught that the flag was good while being sheltered from the negatives associated with it then that is life for you. On the other hand, people who have been exposed to the negative acts associated with the flag would argue against its reputation for southern pride. The flag was used in the Civil War and represented the south. The South was pro-slavery, while the North was not. I believe that the name should be changed due to the negative representation of a man who founded an organization that was known for killing and never creating. Robert E. Lee or Lee Hall sounds better and gives less of a negative vibe. -Lamonteze Pannell, Junior, Electronic Media Communications

Send future letters to the editor send to or

-Rebekkah Barrett, Senior, Advertising Major

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Understanding the controversy:

A brief history of Nathan Bedford Forrest by Dylan Skye Aycock // Editor-in-Chief

Flickr // Photo by Ron Cogswell


orrest Hall, a tan and red brick building in the middle and after the war went on to found the Ku Klux Klan as an of campus housing MTSU’s Army Reserve Officer ongoing terrorist enterprise to intimidate and kill freed blacks Training Corps program, landed a spot on MTSU’s and their white allies.” map in 1954. Unlike other buildings named after forAnother letter in support of the name change, presented mer presidents such as the Sam Ingram Building or James E. by the department of philosophy on August 24, recognizes Walker Library, Forrest Hall is named after Confederate Gen. that Forrest is revered as a “brilliant military strategist,” but Nathan Bedford Forrest. they also cite Forrest’s responsibility “for the massacre of Over the years, MTSU students have pushed many times black Union soldiers at Fort Pillow in Henning, Tennessee.” for the university to rename the buildThe same letter highlights a description ing. The most recent initiative to rename of the general’s actions at Fort Pillow by Forrest Hall was presented by students Sergeant Achilles V. Clark, a confederate last summer and soon sparked a historsergeant with the 20th Tennessee Cavalry. ical discussion of the general. In light of “ … but General Forrest ordered them shot recent events and town hall meetings, down like dogs and the carnage continued,” students, faculty, alumni and members Clark recounted in a letter to his sisters. “Fiof the community have had to ask this nally our men became sick of blood and the question: Who was Nathan Bedford firing ceased.” Forrest? As both letters acknowledged, Forrest Forrest, born July 13, 1821, is widely was a key figure in the founding of the Ku recognized as a prominent figure of the Klux Klan, a group comprised of mostly Civil War era. However, as departments Confederate veterans. According to Ketter on campus point out in memos adand several historical references, Forrest, dressed to President Sidney A. McPhee, a grand wizard, ordered the Klan to disForrest’s documented actions during band upon disagreement of their violent and after the war are what prompt their tactics. However, Forrest later denied assupport of renaming the building. sociation with the group when he testified On August 17, 2015, MTSU’s history before a Joint Congressional Committee department issued a letter to President in 1871. McPhee in support of renaming Forrest Many military buildings, including Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest // Hall. According to the letter, the history campus buildings across the U.S., were Image provided by department says that, while Forrest may given the names of confederates followhave been “a brilliant general for the ing the Civil War. Prior to the current Confederacy,” there’s more to be acknowledged of the the push to rename Forrest Hall, Forrest’s ties to the university general’s story than his military record alone. have been brought to light several times, including the reThe letter’s second paragraph reads, “ … he was also one moval of Forrest as the school’s mascot in the 1970s, a debate of the most deservedly notorious figures associated with that about the name of the hall in 2006 and 2007 and a medallion rebellion. A slave trader before the Civil War, he was responof Forrest removed from the Keathley University Center in sible during the war for a massacre of black Union soldiers, 1989.


Sidelines | March 21, 2016 |

A Timeline of the 2006 Forrest Hall Protests


by Olivia Ladd // Assistant Lifestyles Editor

he 2015-16 student protests of Forrest Hall are not the first of their Even after this, Students Against Forrest Hall made no protest kind, but rather a culmination of nearly 50 years of push to change and garnered little media attention, trying to work closely with the university to amend the name of the building. the building’s name. In November 2006, a group of MTSU students gathered at the There was also a plaque honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest hung Keathley University Center and decided they wanted to defy the in the KUC which allegedly stolen during this time period. Many apathy pegged upon their generation. They wanted to make a differ- suspected it was taken by someone who wanted the name changed ence on their campus. Amber Perkins and Lola in order to get the university’s attention. Simpson, among others, discussed the controThe Sons of Confederate Veterans held a versy of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s life and the meeting on the town square to discuss the fact that a building on campus was named afissues of the proposed Forrest Hall name ter him. The group immediately started workchange. They invited the controversial H. K. ing to obtain student signatures on a petition. Edgerton, a black Southern history expert, to These students named themselves Students speak out in order to persuade students. He Against Forrest Hall (SAFH). argued that many African Americans fought Students Against Forrest Hall presented Sidelines article, 2006 under the Confederate flag and that Forrest’s the university with a petition of 205 student military tactics are studied to this day. signatures in favor of changing the name. Due During the first week of December, SGA to this, President McPhee determined the SGA should vote on the suddenly rescinded Resolution 19-06-F and suspended all action to matter. change the name of Forrest Hall. They claimed that the historical inSoon after, SGA voted in favor of changing the name of Forrest formation about Nathan Bedford Forrest was wrongfully presented, Hall, 19 to five. They created Resolution 19-06-F in accordance with there was a lack of Tennessee Board of Regents policy for this sort of MTSU and Tennessee Board of Regents policies thing and that the university should not take on building names: that the name should ultiabrupt action over a couple of petitions. mately be decided by the university and must The university decided to create a forum be named for someone who made significant for the spring semester of 2007, consisting of contributions to MTSU. SGA, students and administrators, to discuss Two weeks after this resolution passed, an the historical context of Forrest Hall. They set opposition group appeared on campus by the up dates for several discussions and a debate name of Students to Save Forrest Hall. These between both sides. students, led by then student Matthew HurThis is not dissimilar to the attention surrt, collected signatures at the MTSU v. Troy rounding Forrest Hall today. football game on November 25. The group The rebirth of the movement that began in came back with 900 student signatures and 400 2015 has gained more traction due mainly to others, including Senator Jim Tracy and RuthSidelines article, 2006 the Facebook group “Change the Name of Naerford County Mayor Burgess. than Bedford Forrest Hall” and the “Keep the However, there was some question to the Hall Forrest Hall” petition being spread. petition’s validity as there were several repeated student names and “questionable entries” on the online form.

Sidelines article, 2006

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1956 illustration of Nathan Bedford Forrest

by Devin Ross // Staff Writer

The Evolution of MT’s Mascot 6

His name is on a building, but once upon a time, Nathan Bedford Forrest was the university’s mascot. From the university’s inception in 1911 until 1934, there were no titles given to the sports teams, only a few unofficial nicknames including the Normalites, the Teachers and the Pedagogues. Understandably, these names failed to register with students and sports-fans alike, and in 1933 The Daily News Journal held a competition for choosing the best name. The winning pick was the Blue Raiders, a name inspired by the Colgate University Red Raiders, a successful, at the time, sports team from Hamilton, New York. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, the university went without an official mascot, but by 1950 the college had begun to incorporate the image of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest into campus life. Students who were similar to Forrest in stature were employed to dress up the like the General and ride on horseback at football games and Homecoming rallies. In 1951, The Midlander (the university yearbook) featured his likeness and that was the first official appearance of Forrest as MTSU’s mascot. The decade saw an influx of Confederate imagery on campus amid the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision and the Confederate Centennial. It was not uncommon to see students flying Confederate flags at football games as the band played Confederate War songs. In 1956, The Midlander staff commissioned an artist from the Nashville Banner to depict Forrest brandishing a pistol, leading his cavalry, Confederate flag in tow. Below the illustration reads “Nathan Bedford Forrest’s spirit symbolizes the spirit of Middle Tennessee State College.” After campus integration in 1962 and the college’s transition to university status in 1965, attitudes on campus changed and the appearance of Forrest waned. The image of a

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Confederate soldier remained as the university’s mascot, but it was simply referred to as the Raider. In 1968, the university discontinued Forrest as the official mascot and created a committee specifically to choose a more generic, less controversial mascot who would be more palatable to minorities on campus and the community. Their choice was a Zorro-like St. Bernard named Beauregard. This was apparently a compromise as the new mascot was dressed like an infantryman whose name likely referenced P.G.T Beauregard, another Confederate general. In 1970, after Beauregard had failed to inspire sports fans and controversy stirred due to crosses being burned on campus, the mascot’s name was changed to Lord Byron after the British romantic poet. The graphic depiction of Lord Byron was similar to Beauregard. He appeared to be a musketeer-like infantryman yielding a sword. While images of Byron graced the merchandise sold at Phillips Bookstore, an actual St. Bernard was housed at a campus house and could be seen walking the sidelines on game day. After the name Lord Byron failed to strike a chord, the dog’s name was changed to Old Blue. The mid-70s saw yet another mascot change as “Winks Choice” or “Raider 1,” began to appear at university sporting events. This was essentially the same mascot they had 10 years prior: a general riding a horse, except now rather than the general being the focal point, the focus had shifted to his horse. However after fan complaints that the mascot upheld a legacy of racism and problems of fitting the horse into the gym the mascot was also discontinued.

“Students who were similar to Forrest in stature were employed to dress up the like the General and ride on horseback at football games and Homecoming rallies”

In 1978, MTSU president M.G Scarlett, faced with cries to omit images of Forrest from campus life, finally removed his image from the university’s official seal and adopted the modern MTSU logo, which can still be seen around campus today. The same year, the universtiy adopted a new mascot: an ambiguous swash-buckler-like superhero character simply named the Blue Raider. However, he too was shortlived. Old Blue had not been completely washed from the public’s consciousness because he was phased back in as the official mascot by 1980. The new, “Old Blue” lacked some of the infantry regalia of his predecessors and was basically just a big, fuzzy blue dog. Old Blue seemed to keep fans content, but failed to create a sensation. In 1996, MTSU president James E. Walker decided that the university needed a new look. He assembled a committee of students, faculty

and fans to decide on a new mascot and logo. After group meetings over the course of two years, they came to a decision. On Jan. 17, 1998, during the halftime of a well publicized men’s basketball game against Tennessee State University, the public laid their eyes on Lightning for the first time. The unveiling had been built up in the media, including ads on ESPN and billboards around Murfreesboro and Nashville, which read “Lighting Strikes.” Lightning is said to be a nod to MTSU’s accomplished aerospace and agriculture programs, but what’s certain is that he was inspired by Greek mythology. Pegasus, a winged horse carried lightning bolts to Zeus. The name Pegasus is also derived from the word lightning, making Lightning the least controversial mascot in MTSU’s history. All photos taken from past issues of Sidelines.

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An Examination of the Forrest Hall Task Force

ollowing the influx of students and faculty demanding a name change of Forrest Hall in 2015, the university appointed a 16-person task force to give Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney McPhee a recommendation on keeping or scrapping the name. The Forrest Hall Task Force, headed by history professor Derek Frisby, includes MTSU faculty, students, alumni and Murfreesboro community members. Of the 16, 15 serving on the committee will be eligible to vote on the suggested name while Tennessee State Historian Carroll Van West will serve as a non-voting member. Before the Tennessee Board of Regents and, potentially, the Tennessee Historical Society, would consider any name change these 16 members will have to agree.

By Brinley Hineman // Assistant Lifestyles Editor

Photo of Forrest Hall Task Force by Sarah Grace Taylor // Sidelines

Who are They? Derek Frisby committee chairman and faculty member in the Global Studies and Cultural Geography department. Frisby specializes in Civil War history and has appeared on the National Geographic Channel’s Civil War series, “Civil Warriors.”


State Sen. Bill Ketron MTSU alumnus and caucus chairman of state Senate Republicans. In an interview with the Daily News Journal, Ketron stated that he would like to see the name preserved in order to avoid rewriting history. He is also a supporter of the proposed bill to amend the Tennessee Heritage Act, making more stringent rules for changing names of buildings, statues, etc named after historical figures.

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Tricia Farwell president of the MTSU Faculty Senate, advertising/PR professor and faculty regent at the Tennessee Board of Regents. In addition to having the twothirds approval from the Tennessee Historical Commission, the Tennessee Board of Regents must also approve the name change. The Tennessee Board of Regents is responsible for governing many of the state’s universities and all of its community college and technical schools. “We try to be on the forefront of identifying issues and helping to find a solution,” Farwell told the Daily News Journal.

Protests so far David Otts a faculty representative and professor in the University College Lindsay Pierce a student representative and president of the MTSU Student Government Association Barbara Turnage a faculty representative and professor of social work

Protesters initially tried to appeal to the committee by holding a mock funeral to gain the attention of the task force. “Today we are having a burial of Nathan Bedford Forrest to send a message to the task force who refuses to acknowledge his racist past,” MTSU senior Dalton Winfree said. However, some protesters have since lost hope in the task force. After a white community member allegedly made inflammatory remarks to the African-American students sitting in front of him, MTSU senior Brandon Woodruff ignored the committee when he turned to cameramen in the room and said that his message was not for the task force but rather for the media. He addressed McPhee directly. “President McPhee, we know there are wealthy alumni who put money into this school who you may be afraid to upset, but I promise you that 25% of your student body is much, much worse,” Woodruff said. “What must we do? Turn MTSU into the University of Missouri? Galvanize at your home on campus like the black students did in the 1960s and force you to resign because the issue is so unbearable? We will. Block the doors of Forrest Hall and sing old Negro spirituals while the media watches the school try to imprison its own students? We will.”

Mark Doyle A faculty representative and an associate professor of history. Brian Walsh an alumni representative

Carroll Van West the Tennessee State historian and director of MTSU’s Center for Historic Presentation. Van West will be serving as a non-voting member of the panel.

What do They do? The committee has held two “town-hall” meetings since their official formation in November to hear the voices of the MTSU and Murfreesboro communities and one more public forum is set for March 24, from 5-7:30 p.m. in the Keathley University Center, but is only for organizations who wish to share a stance on the issue.

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Talented Tenth seeks change,

Members of the Talented Tenth // photo by Sarah Grace Taylor // Sidelines

starting with Forrest Hall by Amanda Freuler // News Editor


tudent protesters calling for the renaming of Forrest Hall began meeting last October, which was appropriate, being the tenth month and the group adopting the name, the Talented Tenth, a term coined 75 years ago by W.E.B. Du Bois. According to MTSU sophomore and member of Talented Tenth, Arionna White, the group is an unofficial campus organization focused on protecting African American and minority students from racism. White said members discussed forming the group before MTSU President, Sidney McPhee, announced the Forrest Hall renaming task force in June. “It’s to help diminish racial tension on campus, period,” White said. “It just so happens that Forrest Hall was the first task.” McPhee initiated the task force after debates grew about Confederate imagery on public property following the June 2015 mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. MTSU’s military science building is named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate

general and former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, has faced controversy in the past, and the task force was created to engage the community in the debate. There have been two task force open forums since McPhee established the committee, and Talented Tenth has made an effort to speak at each meeting. At the most recent public meeting on Feb. 24, Talented Tenth took their plan of action one step further. “We didn’t plan to protest until the second engagement simply because we knew it was going to be community-wide, and Forrest Hall is a community

Joshua Crutchfield, member of the Talented Tenth Photo by Sarah Grace Taylor // Sidelines


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issue,” White said. On the night of the meeting, White said that she felt the growing tension between community members against the name change and supporters of the name change from the parking lot before the meeting even began. Shortly into the meeting, White said a member of the audience interrupted a Talented Tenth speaker to accuse the African American students near him of being unintelligent and illiterate. Another Talented Tenth member and MTSU senior, Brandon Woodruff, took the floor once the crowd calmed after the previous comments.

Brandon Woodruff speaking before the task force Photo by Sarah Grace Taylor // Sidelines

“Our concern is not only with Forrest Hall, but more so with the university’s history of mistreating black students,” Woodruff said before speaking directly to McPhee. “President McPhee, we know there are wealthy alumni who put money into this school who you may be afraid to upset, but I promise you that 25% of your student body is much, much worse.” After Woodruff’s speech concluded, Talented Tenth began their protest by chanting “black lives matter” until being escorted out of the meeting. “It wasn’t going to get violent, but at times you just have to make sure that your voice is being heard,” White said. Immediately following the meeting, she said that members of Talented Tenth were threatened by members of the community and had to be escorted to their cars. White continued to feel tension in the community days after the meeting. “I just find it really interesting that they have to call backup on us because we started protesting, yet no one really paid much attention when a girl was threatened (while leaving the meeting),” White said. Members of the Talented Tenth also find Sen. Bill Ketron’s involvement on the committee to be controversial as he supports the bill to amend The Heritage Act, suggesting a bias against the name change. “A lot of us feel as though this task force is disrespectful,” White said. “How can you have somebody that’s on the task force who is so deeply biased about it?” Despite recent challenges, White said that members of the Talented Tenth remain optimistic. With 31 members currently, the group is focusing on writing speeches for the third public meeting next week. They are still discussing a plan of

action if the name of Forrest Hall does not get changed. After the Forrest Hall meetings are over, White said that Talented Tenth will focus on other changes they’d like to see on campus and in the community. After the Forrest Hall meetings are over, White said that Talented Tenth will focus on other changes they’d like to see on campus and in the community.

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Sydnee Mcphee at protest // photo by Sarah Grace Taylor // Sidelines

How Forrest Hall COULD receive a new name By Amanda Freuler // News Editor


ven if the Forrest Hall task force recommends to rename monument, memorial, nameplate, plaque, historic flag disthe building, the decision would only be the first step in play, school, street, bridge, building, park, preserve, or rethe process. Such a measure would still have to pass musserve” on public property that is named in honor of a historic ter with the Tennessee Board of Regents and the proposed to military figure without a two-thirds vote from the Tennessee the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act of 2016. Historical Society. While Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney If passed, the only exceptions where a structure or other McPhee maintains the right to rename sections of buildings, memorial dedicated to a historical figure would be removed universities must go through the Board of Regents to change is if it interferes with public property operated by the state the name of an entire building. That’s pursuant to the board’s Department of Transportation, or if a waiver to change the Naming Buildings, Facilities and Buildhistorical dedication is granted. ing Plaques policy. The act was proposed by State Rep. Steve According to that policy, “the prerogMcDaniel (R-Parkers Crossroads) andSenaEven if the Forrest Hall ative and privilege of such namings on tor Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), a member task force decides to the campuses of the Tennessee Board of of the Forrest Hall Task Force and alumnus change the MTSU buildRegents System are vested in the Board.” of MTSU. ing’s name, MTSU has a Once a committee is chosen by the In terms of Forrest Hall and MTSU a long journey before it is university president to discuss name couple of scenarios emerge. If the task able to rename the hall. ideas, they must compile a report of posforce recommends a name change and the sible names with justifications, and then TBR approves such a change before the send their report to the university presheritage preservation legislation goes into ident. From there, the president sends effect on July 1, then the building’s name his or her personal preference with the could change. committee’s reports to the TBR for approval. But if such a proposal occurs after July 1, then it would inMTSU’s Forrest Hall task force must first decide to change volved the Tennessee Historical Commision to weigh in. the name before the school can begin filing for approval with Then, if the THPA is passed, MTSU would have to be the TBR for a new name. granted a waiver to change the name of the building because As the Forrest Hall task force remains in the pre-emptive it is on public property and is named in honor of a “historical stage of the approval process, the Tennessee Heritage Promilitary figure,” unless the name change was approved by the tection Act of 2016 (THPA) is currently awaiting a vote by TBR prior the the bill going into effect in July. the Tennessee State Senate. The House has already approved Even if the Forrest Hall task force decides to change the the legislation. MTSU building’s name, MTSU has a long journey before it is This revised act would prohibit the renaming of any “statue, able to rename the hall.


Sidelines | March 21, 2016 |

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Students will • Use integrative thinking and reflection across multiple contexts and educational experiences; and • Develop an ePortfolio which will showcase the integration of the knowledge, skills, and abilities gained during their time at MTSU.

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Sidelines | March 21, 2016 |



2015-16 Protests by Sarah Grace Taylor // Managing Editor


TSU students, faculty, alumni and organizations have protested the name of Forrest Hall off-and-on for the last half century. Most recently, the issue became relevant on campus in the summer of 2015 after Confederate imagery was brought to the forefront by a shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.

June 17, 2015:

Dylann Roof

A mass shooting took place at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. The shooter, who killed nine African-Americans, is believed to be Dylann Roof, 21. Roof, who was indicted on 33 charges related to the shooting, sparked controversy around Confederate symbolism due to him being photographed repeatedly with the second Confederate Navy Jack flag. Many associate this flag and other symbols of the Confederacy with slavery and the oppression of African-Americans, but defenders say they represent Southern pride and heritage.

June 23, 2015: Students, faculty and alumni of MTSU start the Facebook page “Change the Name of Nathan Bedford Forrest Hall” and start a petition to change the name. The petition includes a call to the university president and other officials. “We call on President Sidney A. McPhee, the State Legislature, the Board Of Regents, the SGA, and the Department of the Army to support our campaign and help to promote true diversity on MTSU’s campus,” the petition reads. The same week, the group plans and hosts the first meeting of activists to change the name of Forrest Hall.

August 27, 2015: Students, faculty and alumni march across campus in protest of the name, ending at Forrest Hall. The march began with speeches at the Student Union and ended with university president Sidney McPhee announcing the beginning of a student/faculty committee to determine whether or not the name should be changed in front of continued on page 16


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Forrest Hall. Among the protesters was philosophy professor Michael Principe who called the movement the most “pervasive” of its kind.

Protestors at Forrest Hall // photo by Sarah Grace Taylor // Sidelines

November 10, 2015: MTSU releases a list of committee members for the Forrest Hall Task Force, including faculty members, alumni, students and a local politician. The committee plans to give recommendation to McPhee in April 2016 and announces town hall meetings to hear community voices.

November 25, 2015: Protesters host a mock funeral for Forrest to “bury the name” of Forrest Hall.

February 17, 2016: Campus protesters and community supporters clash at second of three open meetings before the task force. A spat breaks out when a white community member makes racially charged remarks at African-American student protesters. Then a protest, led by senior Brandon Woodruff, breaks out in the meeting. Students then chant “if we don’t get it, shut it down,” as they are escorted into the hallway by Rutherford County sheriff’s deputies and Murfreesboro police.

March 3, 2016: The Tennessee Heritage Protection Act passes the state house, creating stricter guidelines on the renaming process of buildings or other historical properties, including Forrest Hall, starting in July 2016.


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If not Forrest, then who? by Matthew Burnette // Staff Writer Photo of Forrest Hall protest by Sarah Grace Taylor // Sidelines


ith the controversy surrounding Forrest Hall’s namesake Nathan Bedford Forrest, a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War known for his ties to the Ku Klux Klan, the question surfaces: if Forrest’s name were to be taken off of the building, whose should be put in its place? While the answer is debatable, many feel that, since the building houses MTSU’s ROTC programs, naming the building after someone associated with the university with a military background is an appropriate way to go. “Nathan Bedford Forrest had no connection with MTSU and no connection with the United States military,” says Dr. Lynn Nelson, a History professor at MTSU. “In contrast, many MTSU graduates have served with honor and distinction in our nation’s military since the school was founded in 1911, and many graduates of the ROTC programs have similarly served- some of them making the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of their country.” Nelson, who has taught both U.S. and Tennessee history courses, says that due to MTSU’s extensive support of the military, it shouldn’t be hard to find someone worthy of the honor. “Surely, from among those distinguished ranks,” Nelson said. “We can find someone whose commemoration on this building would honor the tradition of our school, give evidence of the outstanding quality of its officer training programs, and provide a personal example of commitment and service to the men and women who will study there in the future.” While Nelson feels that the building should be named for a single person, his colleague in


the History department, Dr. Kristine McCusker, feels that instead the building should be all encompassing with a name like “Student/Soldier Memorial Hall.” “I think it should honor the soldiers on campus who have gone out of that building and went off to fight or are coming on to this campus and working through that building to achieve some sort of Bachelor’s,”

McCusker said. “I have lots of soldiers in my classes, and it is such an honor to work with them and when I think about the experiences I’ve had with these students and the profoundly wounded way they have come to these classes in some cases, the idea that we wouldn’t name this building in their honor is upsetting.” McCusker, who has worked at MTSU for nearly 16 years, has developed a deep passion for students coming out of the military, and feels it’s her duty to help them. “It’s my job to be that bridge for our soldiers who come off battlefields and out of platoons

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and help them make that next step,” she says. “I see what they struggle with, and that building should acknowledge that struggle and not have Nathan Bedford Forrest’s name on it.” While many do feel the building should be named for those involved with the military, others feel that we should be cautious while working through the situation. “If we want to name it after somebody else, the idea is that you would find an individual who performed ideally in an exemplary fashion in the military,” says Dr. Derek Frisby, a Global Studies professor at MTSU. “Given the protest over the current name, you might have to consider background checks and discussion about the totality of whoever you name it after.” Frisby also chairs the Forrest Hall Task Force, which formed to offer a recommendation on whether the building should renamed. “I think that really goes to what our task force is looking for,” Frisby said. “Can we as a society recognize the achievements of an individual in a certain field in exclusion of other acts, good or bad?” Though Frisby says he does not have an opinion on whether the name should be changed or what it should be changed to, he does feel that MTSU should tread lightly when making the decision, citing the recent situation at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill when the university was forced to change a building name due to protests. “I think you go in with the expectation of permanence,” says Frisby. “It doesn’t mean you can’t discuss, debate or evenly possibly change issues, I just think looking at a new name right now is a little premature.”

ROTC Response In an effort to fairly represent the campus perspective, Sidelines reached out to faculty and students of the ROTC program. Pursuant with the ROTC program’s national policy, they are unable to provide an opinion on political issues.

Sidelines | March 21, 2016 |



Sidelines | March 21, 2016 |