House of Ronald Reagan leadership suspends namesake
The House of Ronald Reagan announced it had temporarily changed its namesake to the “House of Honor” after it was revealed this past summer that the former U.S. president had made racist comments.
In a statement released last Thursday, President Fritz Scibbe said, “It is the firm conviction of our team that our House deserves a namesake who embodies our values, whose name we can all be proud to bear, and that Ronald Reagan is not that name. The Exec Team has decided to suspend the use of Ronald Reagan as a namesake. Until an official decision is made on a replacement, we will be using our House value of Honor to stand in. We view this as an aspirational goal; a desired state for which we are constantly striving.”
The statement was released the day of the performance, “Who We Are,” presented by the freshmen assigned to that house. The statement was made public on the House’s Instagram account.
Some former House of Reagan alums commented on the post, citing their grievances towards the change. One King’s Alumni commented on the post and described the House’s decision as “stupid” and “shortsighted” on their Instagram.
“But this decision is indefensible and repugnant. It’s a sad day when cancel culture becomes the culture of The King’s College,” the user commented.
A 2018 King’s Alumni commented on the post referring to his house as “The House of WOKE Cancel Culture.”
“I only make my alumni donations out to house of Reagan. Might be difficult to cash that check if you’ve gone and changed the name,” the user added.
Some of the House of Honor’s current executive team members replied back reassuring that all complaints were being heard by the exec team.
The 2019-2020 student handbook does not list whether or not a house can change their own namesake.
The Empire State Tribune reached out to King’s administration for further comment, but did not hear back as of Sunday night. However, the official Instagram account of The King’s College commented on the House of Honor’s post, responding to their decision.
“While the official College review of all ten namesakes has just begun and formal recommendations from the committee will not come until spring, we recognize that the students in the House of Reagan have chosen on their own initiative to suspend the use of their namesake internally,” the account said. “As this community undertakes difficult conversations about how we hold up role models, we encourage everyone to assume the best about those with whom we disagree, and to engage in debate with civility and respect.”
It was in August that audio of Ronald Reagan describing Tanzanian delegates in racist terms was made public, sparking controversy for the King's house namesake. In 1971, in a private call to former president Richard Nixon the then-governor Reagan discussed a vote by the UN to recognize China, instead of the US ally Taiwan. During this call, he referred to Tanzanian delegates as “monkeys,” saying they were still “uncomfortable wearing shoes.”
Current students shared that they approved of the most-recent decision by the house to use a different name. .
“Proud of the men in this house,” replied a King’s student.
Some students, such as Senior Edison Cummings, have proposed disbanding the house system altogether.
“As for my personal views, I believe that the entire house system should be abolished. With the revelations of Reagan’s own racism, equal concern must be raised for the likes of Susan B. Anthony, whose comments on black enfranchisement are arguably worse.” Cummings said in an email. “Equal concern must be raised for Winston Churchill, whose abhorrent statements on race continue the thread with vigor. Cries of erasure need not be issued here.”
Some others see issues in the House System, but find the system overall valuable.
“It is an important part of King’s identity, and one of the reasons why our school is so unique. The house system provides new students with a support system and the opportunity to quickly meet new people and start friendships. Participation is voluntary, so even if house events are not really your thing, that is not really a problem (especially after Freshman year),” said King’s sophomore Ally Krichilsky.
** Contributions to this story made by Mattie Townson and Connor Kopko **