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Published 06/20/2020 | Reading Time 4 min 13 sec
STILLWATER, Okla. — The Oklahoma A&M (OSU/A&M) Board of Regents unanimously voted Friday to remove the name “Murray” from Murray Hall and North Murray Hall on Oklahoma State University’s campus. The buildings were named after Oklahoma’s ninth governor, William H. “Alfalfa Bill” Murray, who had a record of advocacy for racist policies including segregation and the promotion of Jim Crow laws, which in effect stripped many Black Oklahomans of their constitutional right to vote.
“Today’s decision to remove Murray’s name from our campus is an important step to eliminate any actual or symbol of racism on OSU’s campus,” said OSU President Burns Hargis. “For many in the OSU family, the building’s name has invoked reminders of a painful past. I appreciate the leadership demonstrated by students, faculty, staff and alumni, and the unanimous action the Regents took today to remove the name.”
The buildings’ un-naming followed a thoughtful and deliberate process approved more than a year earlier by the Board of Regents. A resolution was adopted this past spring through the Student Government Association and two subsequent committees of campus leaders. OSU President Burns Hargis then approved the resolution and sent it to the Regents.
“The extreme racist views Murray held, including his support for segregation, contradict our values of equality and justice,” Regent Chair Tucker Link said. “The Regents’ unanimous decision to un-name the buildings reflects our recognition that removing this symbol of racism is overdue. We embrace our responsibility to dismantle systemic racism.”
OSU senior Kaitlyn Kirksey, former president of the Student Government Association, is the student responsible for initiating the action leading to the resolution during the Fall 2019 semester.
“This moment is over two decades in the making. I’m proud to have been part of the final push in the un-naming of Murray, but I am only one of many Cowboys to have fought for this change. Removing the name is about learning from our past, not rewriting it.
“As a Cowboy Family, we aspire to achieve inclusive excellence in our community, both personally and physically. And as we chart our course for the future, we will continue to fight for each other and for every member of our family to feel included, valued, and loved here at Oklahoma State. Removing Murray’s name is just another step on our journey to make OSU the best it can be.”
Kirksey will join with other campus leaders at Murray Hall Friday afternoon to witness the initial removal of the signage for the building.
OSU’s Vice President for Institutional Diversity and the Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Jason Kirksey said today’s action was a significant step.
“Actions speak louder than words, and I commend President Hargis’ support and the Board of Regents’ ultimate decision to take action in removing from our campus a name that has hurt many people in the OSU community,” he said. “I am also proud of the students’ passion, leadership and commitment to effect meaningful change that will positively impact generations of Cowboys to come.”
The complete removal of the Murray name will take some time as one of the areas includes a name carved in a limestone facade. The Board of Regents has a policy in place for naming facilities and will be deliberate in selecting a name for OSU’s buildings in the future.