College Republicans recommend changing Gish Theater name

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The members of the College Republicans Executive Board recently had the pleasure of meeting with the president and vice president of the Black Student Union to discuss changing the name of the Gish Theater.

The theater is named after the silent film star Lillian Gish, a native born Ohioan. The name has created some unease among students here at BGSU, as the namesake for it starred in the notoriously controversial 1915 movie “The Birth of a Nation.” This film glorified the Ku Klux Klan and has been condemned for its racist portrayal of African Americans and glorification of the Klan.

After speaking with the BSU and learning of their desire to change the name, we have decided to stand beside them in their efforts. This does not mean to imply that we wish to erase history; rather, we hope to reconcile with the past atrocities committed in our nation against African Americans.

History is important to the present, no matter how ugly it may have been. It is important that we are aware of what was going on in our nation during the time this movie circulated and how this movie contributed to the revitalization of the Klan in America.

We must learn from such a horrible mistake so that we can heal the wounds that were inflicted upon the hearts of so many. We, as BGSU students, feel the Gish Theater is not an accurate representation of what we as a university stand for, hence, why we want the name changed.

By changing the name of the theater, we can spark a positive change in our student body and have a chance to honor a past alumni who represents our university and what we stand for as a student body.

No longer will the name rehash old wounds and bring back the memories of the worst moments in American history. While we recognize the name of the theater may appeal to the artful tastes of some in the community, we feel that the needs of the current students take priority.

A college campus is supposed to ensure that students are free to pursue an education in an encouraging environment. To that end, we believe changing the name of the Gish Theater is the best way to create a better learning environment for all of us students and help create a community of which we can all be proud.

The College Republicans look forward to standing beside the Black Student Union, as well as the other student organizations, in support of this effort. The nation has been through some hard times — the reign of the KKK and all the terrors they committed against African Americans is such a time.

Let’s see this as an opportunity to not only reconcile with our nation’s tumultuous past but also to unite with one another behind a common desire to promote good.

Perhaps you have a friend who does not support changing the name or understand why a community would have a problem with it? Take this opportunity to talk with them, find out where they are coming from and work to change their mind.

We have learned from our past; we have read about the many evils committed by the KKK, and we are empowered to do what we can to create a brighter future. With that in mind, let’s keep our eyes on that future and work to build a culture and environment we can be proud of here at BGSU; let us start today by changing the name of this theater.