SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Following the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade, students at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) are calling on the university to rename a building dedicated to one of the justices.
Nearly 2,000 students, alumni and community members have signed the petition, many saying they feel it’s not the best representation of their school.
Just days after the Supreme Court’s ruling, student Griffin Hansen started the petition to change the name of the Clarence Thomas Center for Historic Preservation.
“Given the circumstances, it may be time to reconsider naming the building,” Hansen said. “I don’t feel that it’s appropriate for a private university to have their students pay for something which is named after somebody who actively tries to steal the rights of the students who are paying for the maintenance and upkeep of said building.”
Thomas voted to strike down Roe, writing in his concurring opinion that landmark rulings on LGBTQ+ rights should also be revisited. The Justice is from our area, born in Pin Point. The SCAD building was formerly an orphanage and convent for the Missionary Sisters of the Franciscan Order, where Thomas was an altar boy.
SCAD dedicated the building in his honor in 2010.
“I understand that Justice Thomas means a lot to a lot of people and I’m sure the people that signed the petition were once inspired by him,” Hansen said. “I’m sure there’s droves of people out there who maybe don’t even agree with the recent decision who do look up to him as an important figure in American history and in law.”
Hansen said he didn’t start the petition to discredit the history of the building, but to show support for his fellow peers who say they feel their rights are under attack. He said he’s appreciative of the university’s response.
“People at the university have reached out and have talked to me about it,” Hansen said. “Instead of reaching out and saying you know you’re expelled, you’re in a lot of trouble, they’ve been incredibly kind and understanding and they themselves have shown a lot of support for the project.”
As of Wednesday, the sign bearing Thomas’ name is no longer outside the building. News 3 reached out to SCAD about its removal and is waiting to hear back.
Hansen said he would like to see the building be named after a civil rights leader or artist in Savannah, or a SCAD faculty member who left a lasting impact on students.