Student activists from the largest private college on Long Island, New York, Hofstra University, are calling for the removal of the statue of Thomas Jefferson from the campus in the outskirts of the city as according to them, it represented a legacy of racism and bigotry on college campuses.
For the second year in a row, the students participated in the annual ''Jefferson Has Gotta Go!'' event over the future of the Founding Father's statue, holding slogans saying ''DECOLONIZE'' and ''Black Lives Matter.''
Last year, the students launched a petition to move the statue to a historical museum with proper context. In the students' view, Jefferson's politics had contributed to the construction of institutionalized racism and justified the subjugation of Afro-American people in the United States.
The university president responded in June 2018 after the first protest, announcing the statue would remain and that he would create a task force “to consider further dialogue and education about our founding fathers, the Atlantic slave trade and Western expansion; to think about what freedom and equality mean at the University.”
Moreover, the white supremacists and neo-nazi organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan have been inspired by his views, the students added, highlighting that the protests were not just about the statue.
As the former College Democrats executive board member Miranda Pino explained, the removal of the statue does matter, but it is more important what it represents, namely the legacy of racism, the culture of bias and discrimination across college premises.
The protesters even went further in their demands, asking for an online, bias reporting system, an online complaint program, and a comprehensive cultural competency training.
Hofstra University has not immediately responded to the students' demands to remove the statue. However, the academic board announced the launch of a dedicated task force to foster dialogue and education on ''founding fathers, the slave trade, and Western expansion.
Chris Kostulias, the Hofstra College Republicans President, launched a counter-petition, pointing out that despite the flaws in his politics, a byproduct of his time, the statue of Thomas Jefferson should remain.
What is happening in Hofstra College is not an exception. Many colleges and universities in the country have launched campaigns to rename academic departments, school mascots, campus buildings named after historical figures who are considered controversial and problematic these days.
For instance, George Washington University students also urged to ditch their school's mascot as according to them, the Founding Father was a ''white supremacist.''
Do you support or oppose the idea of having the monuments of the Founding Fathers removed from the college campuses?