Oregon State University Changes Building Names That Honored Proponents of Slavery

Last fall, Edward Ray, president of Oregon State University in Corvallis, announced that the university would change the names of three buildings on campus because the people for whom the buildings had been named had expressed support for the institution of slavery.

The university recently announced the name changes.

Benton Hall and Benton Annex were named to honor residents of Benton County who raised a great deal of money for the university. But Benton County was named after former Missouri U.S. Sen. Thomas Hart Benton who had defended slavery and supported federal legislation to remove Native Americans from their tribal lands.

Benton Hall will now be known as Community Hall to recognize members of the community that helped fund the building of the university. Benton Annex will now be known as the Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center. Redmond was a leader in the women’s suffrage movement in Oregon in the early twentieth century and the annex is the home of university’s women’s center.

Avery Lodge was named for Joseph C. Avery, who made important contributions to the founding of the university, but had ties to the pro-slavery Occidental Messenger. President Ray stated that Avery’s actions “to advance slavery in Oregon are inconsistent with Oregon State’s values.” Avery Lodge will now be known as Champinefu Lodge. In the language of the Calapooia tribe which inhabited the region, the word “Champinefu” is translated as “at the place of the wild blue elderberry.”

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