UMN student government votes to rename Coffman as ‘Memorial Union’

The resolution will go to President Eric Kaler for review.

Students relax outside of Coffman Memorial Union on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

Jack Rodgers

Students relax outside of Coffman Memorial Union on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

Max Chao

The Minnesota Student Association unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday proposing a new name for Coffman Union — an effort started last fall.

The resolution recommends that Coffman be renamed “Memorial Union,” intended as a neutral name while memorializing students who were discriminated against in the past, said Emma Dunn, co-author and MSA representative from Minnesota Hillel.

“To us, not naming it after one individual or one donor or one administrator [reflects] … who the building was for, and that’s for the students,” she said.

Along with Coffman, the resolution calls for review of other campus buildings.

Although there are no formal plans, buildings that could be reviewed in the future include Nicholson Hall, Middlebrook Hall and Coffey Hall.

“[We] believe that this is a critical first step for these future conversations,” Dunn said.

The resolution will go to University President Eric Kaler for review, and, if approved, will go to the Board of Regents for a final decision, said Natasha Sohni, co-author of the bill.

The vote is the culmination of a months-long debate surrounding campus building naming practices after an exhibit last fall — “A Campus Divided” — exposed racially biased and anti-Semitic practices by University personnel, including former President Lotus D. Coffman, according to past Minnesota Daily coverage.

“In the end, we were all happy with the way everything resulted. I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” Sohni said of the passed resolution.