NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Vanderbilt University announced Monday that it will pay more than a million dollars to remove an inscription containing the word “Confederate” from one of its campus dorms.
The private university has referred to the Confederate Memorial Hall simply as “Memorial Hall” since 2002, but was blocked in court from changing the name chiseled on the building because it was constructed with the help of a $50,000 gift from the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1933.
Under the agreement, Vanderbilt will pay $1.2 million, the equivalent of the gift made 83 years ago, to the organization’s Tennessee chapter. In exchange, the chapter will relinquish its naming rights to the building.
“You can memorialize individuals without taking sides in the bloodiest war that was fought over the divisive issues of slavery and equality that we’re still struggling with today for those young people coming onto campus,” Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos said in a phone interview.
The money has been pledged by anonymous donors, and Zeppos said the school chooses to focus on “moving Vanderbilt forward” rather than on what projects the Daughters of the Confederacy will spend the funds on, especially in light of a new Tennessee law that makes it more difficult to remove Confederate symbols and statues from public places.