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Thread: Naming Public Places After Controversial Figures

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    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Naming Public Places After Controversial Figures

    Apparently the University of Wyoming named a new international students center after Dick Cheney, a UW alum and a primary donor for the project. The Cheney International Center is being protested by several Wyoming residents, and it got me wondering what y'all's take is on naming things after prominent, yet controversial, figures like Cheney. Some other controversial figures with public places or spaces named after them include Barry Goldwater, Cesar Chavez, Malcom X, George Wallace, etc.

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    For public places I think its a mistake, but for private why not?

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    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Slightly off topic, since a county is not a public place. Montana has a county named after Thomas Francis Meagher (pronounced /ˈmɑrh/)

    He was an Irish nationalist and revolutionary, fighting for Ireland's independence from British rule. He was known as "Meagher of the Sword" due to his fiery revolutionary speeches. During this time Meagher introduced the flag that is now the national Flag of Ireland. In 1848, Meagher was convicted of sedition by the United Kingdom, and sentenced to death. The sentence was later commuted to transportation to Van Diemen's Land (today the Australian state of Tasmania).

    In 1852, he escaped to the United States and arrived in New York City. During the American Civil War he joined the U.S. Army and rose to the rank of brigadier general, most notably forming and leading the Irish Brigade.

    Following the Civil War, Meagher served as acting governor of the Montana Territory. In 1867, in unexplained circumstances, Meagher drowned in the Missouri River after falling from a steamboat. Some believe he was drunk at the time. Others contend he was murdered.
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    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Heck if the guy is an alum and primary donor I have no problem with them naming it after him. Nowadays any public figure is controversial.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    If Dick Cheney is donating private $$$ to this I don't see what is wrong with it. Then again I come from a place where the universities (including the Urban Planning program at one of our larger public universities) have many facilities named after a prominate developer and ex-con.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    Apparently the University of Wyoming named a new international students center after Dick Cheney, a UW alum and a primary donor for the project. The Cheney International Center is being protested by several Wyoming residents, and it got me wondering what y'all's take is on naming things after prominent, yet controversial, figures like Cheney. Some other controversial figures with public places or spaces named after them include Barry Goldwater, Cesar Chavez, Malcom X, George Wallace, etc.
    Does it include a waterboarding recreation room for the international students to enjoy during their leisure time? Sorry couldn't resist.


    As for primary donors this is normal procedure...give alot of money for a building and we'll put your name on it. However it usually doesn't involve a public figure. I think UW should have taken a very careful look at this particually with the "international" student center in conjunction with his foriegn policy view. This is a public institution, was it signed off by the state govt - the uni board of directors (or whatever their oversite/governing board is called)? Its not suprising about the backlash and I hope they considered potential ramifications.

    off-topic (sorta, kinda)
    What others could be "fun" to include? The (James) Watt National Park Center, the (Bill)Clinton Womens Center, the (George) Wallace Civil Rights Center, the (Joe) Wilson Ethics Center, the (Ronald) Reagan International Airport (oops they already did that one).
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
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    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    if he's a graduate of the University and the University is okay with it I don't see the problem with it.

    I know that the University of Illinois has turned down a couple offers of donations from Hugh Hefner (a U of I grad) for some reason, though. I can't imagine why.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

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    Cyburbian Joe Iliff's avatar
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    Not to be overly cynical, but the answer to "Why does anything happen?" is often money. If the University is better off in the minds of the Powers That Be by having it so named, it will be. If the name were to be more cost to them than benefit, it won't be. I imagine there are some names that would have so severe a negative consequence that no amount of money would adequate compensation. Evidently, Mr. Cheney's isn't one of them.

    I suppose it is a challenge most organizations (businesses, schools, governments, non-profits, etc.) face at some point in their existence. Such and such will compromise your reputation or standing in the community by this much, but fill your bank account by that much. Which do you choose?
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian Tom R's avatar
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    names

    Quote Originally posted by Planit View post
    What others could be "fun" to include? The (James) Watt National Park Center, the (Bill)Clinton Womens Center, the (George) Wallace Civil Rights Center, the (Joe) Wilson Ethics Center, the (Ronald) Reagan International Airport (oops they already did that one).
    How about the Andrew Carnegie Labor Relations Center, Michael Jackson Day Care, Ted Kennedy Driving/Aquatic Safety School....
    WALSTIB

  10. #10
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I think that private donations to fund things should be able to have a name, but public it really does come down to who and why.

    I absolutely hate that every stadium is now sponsored. That isn't because they are alum or good people, but because corporations have money. The John A. Public Arena and the Billy Q. Squire Court. Money will win over history, pride, or reason.

    With that said, I don't mind some places being named...
    Schools or departments. I would rather see the school name it after someone because they were a integral part of the creation or further of the school or department, but if a successful businessman wants to donate millions and have his name on the school from which he got his degree, more power to him. It furthers the school and it let's the guy get some tax breaks.

    Same with hospitals. Wings are funded by the doctors who worked there. Getting their name on it seems okay if they really want to help start a new department or further some research opportunities.

    I think that when money and politics come into it, it does get a lot more ugly. Especially when the figures are more contreversial that reasonable. If it was a private donation to be named after Chaney so be it. But if the school just wanted to get the name and some press because of it, I don't really see how that furthers the purpose of the school...
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    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    Something tells me that there won't be too many middle-eastern students hanging out there.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

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    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Whose Yur Planner View post
    Something tells me that there won't be too many middle-eastern students hanging out there.
    You might be surprised to find out how many end up hanging out there indefinately

  13. #13
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    I don't (or maybe I do ) mean to open up this can of worms but there are plenty of things (buildings, schools, parks, CITIES) in the Southeast (and younder) that are named after people who were a) civil war generals for the South b) owners of slaves c) people who by today's PC standards would be called 'racist.' I understand racism is racism no matter what era it is, but the acceptance of certain labels, talk and social norms has changed. Heck, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington owned slaves and there are plenty of things named after them.

    I really dont see anything wrong with that, especially since its part of the history of the area that cannot be changed.
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    Cyburbian Plus
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    At CU there is the Alfred Packer Grill
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    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    I don't see a problem at all with naming something after a VP who was on a ticket elected twice in democratic elections. I can see much more of a reason for controversy surrounding figures like Malcom X.
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    Heck if the guy is an alum and primary donor I have no problem with them naming it after him. Nowadays any public figure is controversial.
    Agreed.



    As an aside, I wonder just how many international students go to the University of Wyoming anyway?
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  17. #17
    There's a community college in Alabama named after George Wallace. And yes, there are black students there.

    Growing up in the Deep South, I've seen so much stuff named after Confederate generals, known racists, slaveowners, etc. I don't bat an eye anymore. An elementary school named after Robert E. Lee in Birmingham (a city that's 73% black), a high school named after Jeff Davis in Montgomery (again, a majority black school if I'm not mistaken), etc. Confederate flags don't scare me. Why southerners feel so adamant about clinging to an ugly, divisive, racist past that included them getting their butts kicked in a civil war 150 years ago is beyond me. The time that's elapsed since then is what really bugs me..............the Civil War ended in 1865.The South lost. LET IT GO.

    Personally I think UW should've steered clear of naming something after Dick Cheney but in all honesty that's my political and ideological beliefs talking.........Cheney's no more controversial than a lot of other historical figures, although I personally find it disgusting that he has anything named after him.

    On a sidenote.............what's so controversial about Malcolm X? He was radical in the beginning, yes, but towards the end of his life he preached a message of tolerance and brotherhood, particularly after his voyage to Mecca.

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    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    Agreed.As an aside, I wonder just how many international students go to the University of Wyoming anyway?
    There are 10-9 Canuckistaniis and 1 poor Indian soul wondering how the h@#* did I wind up here.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    ...the Urban Planning program at one of our larger public universities have many facilities named after a prominent (edit) developer and ex-con.
    A. Alfred Taubman has done more to further the cause of urban planning than any living person.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northland_Center

    (He didn't initiate this, but he took it and ran with it)

  20. #20
    Cyburbian
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    We have a high school here named after a klan leader and people think it's a good thing. "But just think of what a great patriot he was!"

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    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Hmmm....

    How about the Wellington Webb office complex in Denver? He's still alive...in fact didn't he name the building himself??
    Skilled Adoxographer

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    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    If Dick C. ever travels abroad he might be picked up just l;ike Augusto Pinochet or other international war criminals.

    I wonder how many controversial places are named after public officials?

    For example, what public figure should be chosen for naming a place like the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, or the military prison at Bhagram airbase in Afghanistan?

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Tom R's avatar
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    Cheney

    They could always name a trap shooting range for him.
    WALSTIB

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