After two years of protests from students, Florida State University has agreed to remove the statue of founder Francis Eppes VII, grandson of Thomas Jefferson and known slave-owner, from the school’s entrance.
“To keep the statue located at the front gates of campus is to give Eppes a level of prominence that is simply not appropriate,” FSU President John Thrasher said.
The relocating of the statue is just that: a relocation, not an entire removal. Wherever the sculpted figure is moved to on the campus, it will be accompanied by a plaque with the mention of Eppes’ historic contribution to FSU, in addition to his slave ownership past, according to CNN.
Eppes’ name can also be found in the in the school’s College of Criminology and Criminal Justice Building, something that Thrasher has chosen not to remove despite the recommendation from the student and faculty-led advisory panel.
Furthermore, the decision has been met with a mixture of emotions that range from “this is not enough” to “this is too much.”
The members of Students for a Democratic Society in Tallahassee expressed disappointment through Twitter.
While we applaud the decision by President Thrasher to accept two of the panel’s three recommendations, retaining the name of a Confederate who started slave-catching militias on the criminology building is, at best, deeply irresponsible and tone-deaf. https://t.co/yY9igmTw4T
— Tallahassee SDS (@TallySDS) July 17, 2018
On the flip side, the College Republicans of FSU released their own
statement on social media with a completely different response, describing Thrasher’s decision as being one to “cave to the whims of the loud minority.”
“Removing his statue does not erase his shortcomings,” the group said. “Rather, it simply ignores his generosity to our University and to our state.”
Along with the semi-removal of the historical figure, Thrasher approved to seek the removal of a pro-segregation Florida Supreme Court justice’s name — B.K. Roberts — from the university’s law school building, according to CNN.
The purging of ill thought-provoking statues is nothing new. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 110 monuments and symbols have been removed from Confederate states, which totals 22 states and the District of Columbia, in the past three years alone.
“The great value of history is learning from it so we can move forward,” Thrasher said in a statement. “Examining the names of these two campus buildings and the placement of this statue has afforded Florida State University that opportunity.”