Monday, February 28, 2005

University of the South Image Change



As I penned my last post, I wrote it with full knowledge that my alma mater was in fact undergoing a similar type of image transformation as Governor Dummer. While The University of the South has not yet taken the drastic steps carried out at Governor Dummer, our situation is relatively similar. A hired northern consulting firm's concern that our southern identity is somehow damaging, resulted in their recommendation that, "our research has revealed that the South can often raise negative associations before it sparks positive ones, so the weaker its connection with the University's name, the better." Needless to say, this consulting firm's recommendations have created quite a controversy among students and alumni who feel that it is vital to hold on to the school's heritage and storied academic traditions.

In an article written on February 13, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote about our situation. Here is an excerpt:

Sewanee, Tenn. --- The recent convocation at Sewanee's All Saints' Chapel was a majestic display. University hierarchs in medieval garb spoke Latin, their words echoing throughout the nave. New honor students donned black robes, marking their entrance into the prestigious Order of Gownsmen. Everyone sang: "Alma Mater, Sewanee, My glorious Mother ever be."

To the outsider, nothing in the rites intimated any threat to this 148-year-old school's role as a champion of Southern aristocratic heritage. To traditionalists, however, there were treacherous modifications to Sewanee's old school way of doing things.

Flags of the Southern states had been removed from the chapel. The University Mace --- a ceremonial baton covered with Confederate symbols that is supposed to be carried by the Gownsmen president --- was gone.

And signs all over campus show the school's revamped marketing logo, which reads "Sewanee" in large letters. Smaller letters below spell out the school's official name, "the University of the South."


The article is a good summary of the situation that we face and I suggest reading it in its entirety. For more on this issue, I will advise you to visit Forever Meridiana. It is a website owned by an alum, aimed at preserving the revered traditions of The University of the South.

14 comments:

CCJM said...

Here is an article I just saw today from The Vanderbilt Hustler talking about the exact same issue. Their Confederate Hall was recently renamed a less "controversial" title. However, some students feel this is inappropriate.

From the article:
Junior Andrew Richard said that he felt the name was simply a reference to the southern heritage of Vanderbilt.
"I feel it is in no way a reference to any racism, but to the history of the South, marred as it might be. Erasing the name is like trying to erase history instead of remembering and learning from it," Richard said.

Anyway, the article is interesting and pertains directly to the topic of interest.

Anonymous said...

The mere fact that institutions like Sewanee and Dummer are trying to erase their heritage blows my mind. In the case of Dummer, the founder of the school just happened to have a bad name, however, he should still be recognized for his service to children and the academic community. The same applies to Sewanee. Regardless of the positive or negative history of the school, it is still the school's history. If a black college were named for Malcom X, etc., there is no reason the school should have to change the name of the school just so that white kids feel comfortable attending. At any rate, that is my two cents without writing a novel.

-qwackwacker

Anonymous said...

in response to the last comment lets just take a hyothetical situtiation...
you said that regardless of postive or negative history it is still the history. that i agree with. but in the case of negative history i believe that alterations should sometimes occur. What if Hitler for example, the first really bad guy that i could think of, decided to donate a lot of money to a school while he was in power or any other institutions for that matter. This of course did occur and after WWII the names of these buildings and institutions were renamed. Now i am not arguing that The University of the South is synonomous with hitler but the term the South, especially the Confederate South bring back a lot of negative sentiments that most people today do not agree with. This is obivously why there has been a change.... So to end in my usual way, don't be such an idiot (feel free to comment on all and spellling and gramatical mistakes. i did not see the point in wasting my time putting effort into this post.)

sbs-304 said...

Capitalism at its best. The only reason for these name changes is to increase enrollment. This issue has been gone over enough. It's idiotic, but it simply proves that the academic institutions in America are no better than the corporations.

rd said...

So many Sewanee students seem so upset about the possible name change of the school and about how some of the old traditions seem to be disappearing. I guess this is some kind of natural reaction but if you think about it, Sewanee is not ours, we do not own the school, we are here for just four years and then we leave. If the University of the South wants to be called the University of the North, why should it matter, and why should the opinion of a student who was only here for four mesely years have the right to get offended. Will the name change somehow change your experience here? While you might always remember this place as the University of the South, I will probably always remember it as Sewanee, and neither view will ever take away what this place was for each of us. Univeristies and Corporations are forced to change over time, according to the changes of the world and our country, for reasons that are probably, ultimately better. At one point in time, there were no girls here, and I'm sure many alumni were upset at the idea of a co-ed school but now I'd be hard pressed to find a current student who still wished it was an all-male college. We should all get over ourselves and acknowledge the current importance of diversifying the school.

kettyket said...
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kettyket said...

My dear - I just want to say that I really do enjoy reading your site. I always get a little self-conscious (should I be commenting on serious subjects, too), but then I remember, I'm solely an entertainment blog and I feel a little better.

But seriously, Coleman, you're doing a great job and provoking thoughtful discussion. Congrats.

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