Young Harris College's Response to the Request for a Name Change

Wednesday, October 7, 2020
General College

 

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. — Following a summer of unrest resulting from the senseless deaths of Black Americans at the hands of current and former law enforcement members, a nationwide movement to remove vestiges of slavery grew. Because Young L.G. Harris inherited and owned slaves at one time, an appeal was made to Young Harris College's Board of Trustees to change the institution's name. The Board thought it appropriate and prudent to form a Committee to review the matter. 

We, the Committee on Renaming, hear these concerns, and we are empathetic. We believe any person with a moral compass would agree it was wrong and immoral for Young L.G. Harris to own other human beings. Slavery left a profound legacy of hurt for the descendants of the enslaved. Since emancipation, Black Americans have been subject to more than a century and a half of violence, disenfranchisement and pervasive oppression, with social, economic and cultural effects that persist today. This is part of why Young Harris College’s leadership has focused on bringing diversity to its Board of Trustees, faculty, staff and student body. Additionally, the College will launch "Project Diversity" on Oct. 12, 2020. The purpose of this undertaking is to identify how the College can continue to improve diversity, equity, inclusivity, understanding and social justice in its programs, teaching and campus life. Students, faculty, staff and alumni will have the opportunity to share their insights and suggestions. The Board of Trustees and the leadership of the College look forward to reviewing the outcomes of this project.

Regarding the name of the College, after an in-depth review of historical documents about Young L.G. Harris’s life, as well as numerous discussions, we, the Committee on Renaming, decided that Young Harris College will continue to be known as such. We believe the positive reputation and value YHC has earned is based on its commitment to the Wesleyan tradition of higher education to develop both trained minds and warm hearts, not on the reputation of its namesake.

We will continue to assist in bettering our campus, our communities and our country by educating people who will help right the wrongs of the past. Likewise, we will endeavor to combat our own shortcomings and to advance justice and equality in the pursuit of a better future for all.

About Young Harris College

Young Harris College is a private baccalaureate and master’s degree-granting institution located in the beautiful mountains of North Georgia. Founded in 1886 and historically affiliated with The United Methodist Church, Young Harris College educates, inspires and empowers students through an education that purposefully integrates the liberal arts and professional studies. The College has four academic divisions: Fine Arts; Humanities; Mathematics, Science and Technology; and Professional Studies. More than 1,400 students are enrolled in its residential and Early College programs. The College is an active member of the NCAA Division II and remains a fierce competitor in the prestigious Peach Belt Conference. For more information, visit yhc.edu.

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