Activist students at Lebanon Valley College are making many of the same demands as protesters around the country, but they have also raised a novel concern: they want an academic building, the Lynch Memorial Hall, renamed.
The facility is named after Dr. Clyde Lynch, who was president of the Pennsylvania college from 1932 to 1950. But students say the word "lynch" has negative racial connotations and is upsetting to black students.
In a sense, they are right. But the building isn't named after "lynch" the verb, but rather "Lynch" the man. It seems fairly ridiculous to expect that a great many people—or even a few people—can't tell the difference. Nevertheless, according to pennlive.com:
At Friday's forum they acknowledged no known links between Dr. Clyde A. Lynch and the practice of "Lynching" but said as is, the building and last name harken back to a period in American history when Blacks were widely and arbitrarily killed by public hangings and "Lynch Mobs." …
And while student organizers at LVC indicate a willingness to compromise, many critics remained unappeased and wondering, sarcastically, whether public officials like U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, places like the White House or Lynchburg, Va. might be targeted for alteration next.
"I will not longer watch NFL football when John Lynch announces. Or watch Jane Lynch on TV. Too upsetting," a commenter named "gmaven" quipped.
Renaming this building, obviously, is a silly thing to do—far sillier than the proposed renaming of buildings dedicated to slave owners and racists. (RELATED: U.S. Preparing for War in Syria, Students Care Deeply About Offensive Statues of Woodrow Wilson.) To the extent college students are fixated on trivially offense statues and building names, they are squandering an opportunity to grapple with serious issues, such as the out-of-control cost of higher education, the athletic-industrial complex, and mistreatment of black students of color by the police.