Oxford Removes “Sackler” Name in wake of Opioid Crisis

Entrance to the building formerly known as the Sackler Library (Photo: Public Domain)
Entrance to the building formerly known as the Sackler Library (Photo: Public Domain)

According to a report in The New York Times, the “Sackler” name was removed from buildings at the University of Oxford. In the report a press release from Oxford is quoted as saying the University “has decided that the university buildings, spaces and staff positions using the Sackler name will no longer do so,” despite receiving tens of millions of dollars in donations from the Sackler family. Read more about the name change over at The New York Times.

Introducing the George Washington University “Revolutionaries”

A Bust of George Washington at GWU (Photo: Public Domain)
A Bust of George Washington at GWU (Photo: Public Domain)

According to a report in The Washington Post, the George Washington University Colonials are now the George Washington University Revolutionaries. The “Colonials” was a moniker that University leaders and students alike “deemed divisive and dated during a recent period of racial and social reckoning”. Nick Anderson writes, “Revolutionaries, tying to Washington’s role as a military leader in the American Revolution, is GWU’s first new nickname since Colonials was adopted in 1926. In the past few years, Colonials fell out of favor because the moniker was seen as a proxy for European imperialism, offensive to Indigenous peoples in the United States and elsewhere. Many non-White students, in particular, did not identify with the nickname.”

Read more over at The Washington Post.

“Swastika Mountain” Renamed Mt. Halo

Calapooya Mountains from Fairview Peak Lookout, Umpqua National Forest, Oregon (Photo: US Forest Service, Public Domain)
Calapooya Mountains from Fairview Peak Lookout, Umpqua National Forest, Oregon (Photo: US Forest Service, Public Domain)

“Swastika Mountain”, located Western Oregon’s Umpqua National Forest, was recently renamed “Mt. Halo”. According to an article on NPR, the change was a move supported by local residents. Though the swastika symbol and name belonged to a long-defunct cattle ranch in the area active in the early 1900’s (and the Sanskrit term dates back “as far back as 7,000 years and means good fortune or well-being”), residents believed the name acquired new meaning in the 20th century and was therefore no longer appropriate. The new name, Mount Halo, honors Chief Halito of the Yoncalla Kalapuya tribe.

Read more over at NPR.

Antarctic place names recognise ‘modern explorers’

Antarctica is getting 28 new place names to recognise British individuals who’ve made a major contribution to advancing science in the polar regions. The list includes Jonathan Shanklin, co-discoverer of the ozone hole, and Alastair Fothergill, whose BBC films such as Frozen Planet have widened understanding of the White Continent.

The honourees will be associated with various mountains, glaciers and bays. These are features known previously only by their anonymous coordinates. It’s highly unusual for so large a group of people to be recognised in this way all at once. But the UK Antarctic Place-names Committee felt something special was required to mark the 200th anniversary of the discovery of the continent.

Renaming of Red Skins and Chicos is a shaky step towards leaving discriminatory ideas in the past

Last week, it was announced two types of Allen’s lollies, Red Skins and Chicos, will be known from January 2021 as Red Ripper and Cheekies.

The Swiss-headquartered Nestle Corporation decided the original names did not express their brand values, presumably because of the racist connotations of redskins (Native Americans) and chicos (Latin Americans).

But don’t be surprised if the Nestle marketing department requests a further name change. As the Daily Mail reported, “Red Ripper” was the moniker of a notorious Soviet criminal, Andrei Chicatilo, responsible between 1978 and 1990 for the violent deaths of 52 women, some of whom he ripped apart.

Australia Post to support use of Aboriginal place names on mail

Australia Post says it will support the optional use of Aboriginal place names on mail addresses, following a large grassroots campaign.

The national mail service changed its guidelines this week to include advice on how to include traditional names. While some areas are known by their original names, many Australians often have little knowledge of place names that pre-date European settlement. Activists welcomed the endorsement of their push for greater awareness.

Aboriginal woman Rachael McPhail started the campaign on social media in August, noting Aboriginal people had lived in Australia for at least 60,000 years.

How Harvard Should Think about Renaming

A couple of weeks ago, University President Lawrence S. Bacow convened a committee to articulate “general principles” for renaming spaces, programs, and professorships that are connected to “abhorrent” activities at Harvard. At a base level, everyone is pleased that President Bacow has taken this necessary and overdue step. Yet, for now, it raises a set of compelling philosophical and procedural questions: What should they rename? And how will they know?

The starting point should be obvious. While the University has numerous stains on its long history, slavery and scientific racism remain the tip of the abhorrence iceberg — from the slave trader who helped found their law school, to Harvard’s ownership of daguerreotypes portraying enslaved individuals. Names affiliated with white supremacy and its atrocities should be the first to go. Then

Canadian Town of Asbestos chooses new name: Val-des-Sources


Residents had until Sunday night to vote in a ranked-choice referendum among six options: L’Azur-des-Cantons, Jeffrey-sur-le-Lac, Larochelle, Phénix, Trois-Lacs and Val-des-Sources. Val-des-Sources won 51.5 per cent on the third ballot.

Asbestos, a town of over 7,000 in the Eastern Townships, was once known mainly for the large Jeffrey mine that extracted the toxic mineral, but it chose to rebrand as the name was seen as an impediment to foreign investment.

The town had proposed a list of four new names in September, but criticism of that list led to a new one with six names announced earlier this month.

There were 2,796 ballots counted in total, Mayor Hugues Grimard announced in a special meeting broadcast on Facebook.

Congressman halts attempt to rename Mount Rushmore

One of the country’s most famous landmarks probably will keep its name, despite a recent attempt to rename it. A California resident in July 2020 proposed renaming Mount Rushmore to Igmu Tanka Paha, a Lakota Sioux name that means Cougar Mountain, according to the federal Board on Geographic Names.

Anyone can submit a proposal to rename a geographic feature, but the board tends to be conservative when considering such requests, said Jennifer Runyon, a senior researcher with the board. A national landmark like Mount Rushmore introduces additional complications, and a name change would likely require overwhelming public support.  Additionally, the board only has the power to rename the mountain itself — not the national monument that shares its name.

Racism Debate: Berlin to Rename Street and ‘U-Bahn’ Train Station

The discussion about changing street and station names in Berlin is not new, but the new racism debate triggered by the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota seems to be speeding things up. Two renamings are imminent.

Earlier this month, inhabitants of Wissmannstrasse in Berlin’s Neukölln district received leaflets with interesting content. It included an announcement according to which “Wissmannstrasse will be renamed”. Residents are supposed to hand in suggestions for a new name. The idea of renaming the street next to Hasenheide park is old. And there is a good reason: Hermann von Wissmann, whom the street was named after and who lived from 1853 to 1905, was the “colonial administrator” of ‘German East Africa’. His job title sounds good, but what he actually did does not.

Read here