Illinois State University to change floor names at dormitory

Illinois State University said it will rename floors in a residence hall that are named for U.S. secretaries of state who had slaves.

They include Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe.

“The path seeking social justice has circled back to the historical artifacts that continue to reflect our country’s pattern of intolerance and systemic racism,” university President Larry Dietz said Thursday.

Watterson Towers consists of 10 houses, which are named after the first 10 secretaries of state. Eight took part in slavery, the university said.

“Asking students to live in places that carry the names of those who represent centuries of oppression and systemic injustice becomes part of the trauma that racism inflicts on people every day,” said Doris Houston, interim assistant to the president for diversity and inclusion.

A campus committee is working on new floor names for fall.