Florida State University President John Thrasher has responded to the recommendations submitted to him by members of the President’s Task Force on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion in December.
He announced his decisions in a letter sent today to Professor Maxine Montgomery, chair of the task force, and its members.
“You have addressed difficult issues that are critical to moving our university forward, and I was pleased to receive your initial round of recommendations with regard to recruitment, retention and diversity, campus climate and historical legacy,” Thrasher wrote. “I have given careful consideration to each of the eight recommendations.”
The task force’s recommendations included removing Francis W. Eppes’ name from the College of Criminology building and permanently removing the Eppes statue from open-air display on campus, as well as continuing to pursue legislative action to remove B.K. Roberts’ name from a College of Law building.
Thrasher noted that Eppes’ “role in the early days of FSU notwithstanding, Eppes was a slave owner and a justice of the peace who oversaw the capture of escaped slaves, and as such he should not be honored on our campus with a building in his name.”
He also agreed with task force members that the Eppes statue, removed from campus in July 2020, should not return to campus for open-air display but instead be placed in a museum or archival space with appropriate context for educational purposes.
Thrasher also reaffirmed his support for the removal of Roberts’ name from the law school building. The Florida Legislature established the building’s name in 1973 and will need to take legislative action to repeal the law. Thrasher said FSU is working closely with the local legislative delegation, which unanimously approved draft bill language earlier this month.
“With their backing and resolutions of support from the FSU Board of Trustees and the FSU Faculty Senate, I’m hopeful the bill will move forward during the legislative session that begins March 2 and that we’ll have a positive outcome on this matter,” he wrote.
Recommendations also included securing and using a national higher education database and networking tool geared toward the recruitment of underrepresented faculty and staff and devising systematic ways of centralizing the results of campus climate surveys for broad access.
The task force and its subcommittees will continue to meet weekly with the charge of delivering actionable items to President Thrasher throughout the semester.
“These recommendations will lead to a stronger and more just, equitable and inclusive future for all of us,” Thrasher wrote. “You have already accomplished so much, and I look forward to hearing updates about your further progress this spring.”
To read Thrasher’s letter in its entirety, please visit the President’s Task Force on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion website at president.fsu.edu/taskforce.