SUNY Oswego’s indigenous named halls under review

SUNY Oswego’s Faculty Assembly approved a task force to review the renaming Native American names of some or all campus buildings, roads and fields.

The task force proposed by Michael Chaness, the director of Native American studies at SUNY Oswego, has formed within the campus’ Faculty Assembly.

Chaness told The Oswegonian, “my goal is to make our campus a more broad-minded place, to fulfill the goals of the Grand Challenges of race, racism and social justice, [a] three-year program that’s going on at SUNY Oswego to discuss diversity and societal issues and to make all of our campus buildings and facilities safe for Native students, Native faculty and Native staff.”

“We are doing this out of respect to the indigenous peoples on whose ancestral lands SUNY Oswego now stands, and in alignment with our university values of diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice,” said Wayne Westervelt, chief communication officer of SUNY Oswego.

The Oswego community may have different opinions about whether changing Native American names is a good idea or not. The west side residence halls and the Iroquois Trail do not have any information available about their names’ history or about Indigenous people.

“I think that there has to be some sort of recognition of those groups when you enter those halls right, I mean not just the names; Seneca Hall,”said Kenneth Marshall, professor at SUNY Oswego. “You have the explanation and some sort of marker, plaque, which explains what all of that means.”

According to The Oswegonian, the task force will exist through the spring of 2024. During this period, the members will conduct research, meet with the Oswego community, create educational campaigns and propose the next steps to the College Council.