TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – From a 9-foot bronze statue of former coach Bobby Bowden outside the football stadium to a three-figure monument commemorating the admission of the first African-American students in the 1960s, Florida State University has a number of statues, memorials and other monuments on its campus.
FSU President John Thrasher announced Tuesday the creation of a panel of students, faculty, staff and alumni to review campus names, markers, statues and other official recognitions.
Thrasher, who spoke out strongly after white supremacists led a violent clash over a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Va., last month, said he is committed to protecting free speech as well as the safety and well-being of FSU's students and faculty.
“As we seek to become a more inclusive campus for all, it is essential that we continue to engage in dialogue and inquiry with the entire university community,” Thrasher said about the new panel. “We must continue to examine our history in order to collectively build our future.”
The panel will research the statues, names and other recognitions on campus, seeking comments from various campus constituencies. The group will also determine the “criteria for appropriate naming policies and, if necessary, recommending an appropriate process for renaming campus recognitions,” according to FSU.
At first glance, none of the better-known statues and names on the Tallahassee campus are as controversial as a Confederate memorial on the grounds of the state Capitol complex a few blocks away from the school. Some lawmakers have called for the removal of the Capitol monument.
One potential topic for debate could be FSU's use of the Seminoles as its mascot. But the school has long had a formal and cordial relationship with the Seminole Tribe, which has approved the school's use of the tribal name.
FSU also has a statue called “Integration,” which was unveiled in 2004. It depicts the arrival of African-American students on campus in the 1960s and has three figures representing the first black graduate, first black athlete and the first black homecoming queen.
The depiction of the homecoming queen sparked some controversy since she is wearing a non-Seminole style Native American headdress, which is no longer used in the homecoming celebrations.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida had agreed on the depiction, but other Seminole tribes outside the state objected.
Former FSU President Sandy D'Alemberte sided with the sculptor's depiction, saying it was a “historically accurate representation” of what homecoming queens wore in the 1960s.