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Macalester College may remove founder's name from campus building

His racially insensitive views prompted an outcry.

Six years after renaming a campus building after its founder, Macalester College is considering taking his name down.

This comes after an outcry among students over the racially insensitive writings of Edward Duffield Neill, who established the college in the 1870s.

According to the campus newspaper, Mac Weekly, school president Brian Rosenberg has announced plans to recommend a name change to the board of trustees.

The publication says that Rosenberg credited student activism — specifically the work of Proud Indigenous People for Education as well as Mac Weekly's reporting — with having prompted his move.  

Per the Star Tribune, a statement from Rosenberg says the recommendation to rename the humanities building "is based on the racism reflected in (Neill's) historical writings, which are extreme even by the standards of his time.”

As the paper notes, the writings in question are especially derogatory towards indigenous people.

The Mac Weekly says the board's final decision on the matter is expected "very soon."

Neill, a reverend, served as a chaplain during the Civil War, and would go on to work in three presidential administrations, including that of Abraham Lincoln.

After his government service, he returned to Minnesota to found Macalester. He was the college's first president.

The school's humanities building was renamed Neill Hall in 2013

Controversy over his racist views goes back to at least 2017, when swastikas were found in the building bearing his name, prompting a student op-ed that delves further into Neill's problematic writings. 

Located in St. Paul, Macalester is a private liberal arts school. 

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