University seeks to move on from Catt controversy

Tracy Deutmeyer

The Carrie Chapman Catt controversy is still alive, but Iowa State officials want to move forward and focus on other diversity issues.

University Relations Interim Director John Anderson said the university’s work on diversity issues is held back by the controversy surrounding the name of Catt Hall.

Since last fall, students and faculty, including the specially-organized September 29 Movement, have pressured the administration to change the name of the hall. Some students and faculty say alleged racist remarks made by Catt make her unfit for such an honor.

“We are stuck on a building name issue, but the university is still in the position that it does not recommend to change the name of Catt Hall,” Anderson said.

In his fall convocation last week, ISU President Martin Jischke announced three plans to diversify the campus.

Jischke appointed Diversity Adviser Derrick Rollins to his cabinet. This is the first time a diversity adviser has been named to the president’s senior administrative group.

Funds have been allocated to renovate the Black Cultural Center, a residence at 517 Welch Ave.

There are also funds available to hire four new faculty members for the diversity and internationalization requirements approved by the Faculty Senate last year.

“This is not an appeasement to the Catt Hall controversy. This is a broad diversity issue,” Anderson said.

Meron Wondwosen, a member of the September 29 Movement and a contributing writer to Uhuru! magazine, a publication that has actively criticized Catt, said she hopes Jischke’s decisions were not appeasements.

“I certainly hope it was not an appeasement, but we must have had some influence over his decisions,” she said.

Milton McGriff, a member of the central committee of the September 29 Movement, said Rollins is well respected.

“We give him the highest regards in his field and as a brother, but this is not his expertise. He’s a scientist,” McGriff said.

“I applaud President Jischke in recognizing that there is a problem, but it’s sad that it took so long to appoint someone to this position,” Wondwosen said.

“Our demands include the renaming of Catt Hall, and nothing less will be accepted.”