Students protest USF’s Bill Young building name

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SDS logo. Photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF News.

Student groups at the University of South Florida are once again ramping up their campaign to get Bill Young’s name taken off a campus building; they say the university should not honor the late member of Congress because of his role in a 1960s witch-hunt against gay and lesbian state employees.

WMNF News interviewed Danya Zituni, a member of Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society at USF. She is helping to organize the rally at 1:00 p.m. Tuesday outside the Marshall Student Center on the Tampa campus.  

Listen:

“Tampa Students for a Democratic Society at USF is going to be protesting the university administration to demand that they change the name of the ROTC building on campus. Because it’s currently named after C.W. ‘Bill’ Young, well it was named after him in 2007. Who was a member of the Johns Committee, which had the primary goal of persecuting and terrorizing hundreds of LGBT students and faculty across the Florida university system, including at USF.

“The first thing we did as part of our campaign, was we circulated this petition in late September, to demand that USF change the name, but, despite having hundreds of signatures and a lot of support from not only students and faculty, but, also alumni, when we presented our demand to administration in early November, they rejected it. And then they also refused to publicly debate SDS and students and faculty who supported our campaign to change the name, in January. That’s why we feel it’s necessary to put real pressure on them through a protest.”

And you’re going to be protesting the administration outside the Marshall Student Center. Why there?

“Right. So, we’re protesting administration at the Marshall Student Center lawn, which is outside of the MSC. This is a building where the majority of students spend most of their time, in between classes. We picked 1pm, that’s around lunch time. The point of the protest is to mobilize as many students as possible to put real pressure on admin, but, also on the 4th floor of the building, is actually the administration offices. So, administration will be there, and they’re the target of our demand. We think that this location is really important.

“…In addition to administration rejecting our demand and then refusing to debate SDS and our supporters, the main reason that they’ve said to us that they refuse to change the name of the building is because of Young’s role in the military and the money that he donated, as well as, not wanting to lose any funding from donors. You know, private donors who support the homophobic legacy of Bill Young. So, we feel that not only is Bill Young not redeemable for his active role in ruining hundreds of lives of students and faculty, but, we think administration can’t put profits over students. As the majority of campus, we need to assert our interests by putting real pressure on them. That’s why this protest is really important.”

If people want to find out more, where can they go?

“They can go on our Facebook page, which is facebook.com/tampabaysds and we have an event up that has a couple of details about our campaign and exactly why we’re protesting.”

 

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