INDIANAPOLIS — There is now a formal process for removing a person’s name from a building at Indiana University. The IU Board of Trustees approved the revision to the university’s naming policy at its meeting Friday.

The new process comes a year after the board approved taking Ora L. Wildermuth’s name off the intramural center. Wildermuth was a judge from Lake County, Indiana, who served on the IU board from 1925 to 1952. The building was named after him in 1971, but the discovery of letters he wrote advocating for racial segregation led to the push for his name to be removed.

The decision to remove Wildermuth’s name was contentious. Trustee Patrick Shoulders, the lone dissenting vote in the decision, pushed back. He said that while he found some of the statements in Wildermuth’s letters abhorrent, Shoulders did not think they should be judged with the same sensitivities expected today.

The revised naming policy seems to take Shoulders’ concerns into account. The policy reads, in part:

“The removal of an honoree’s name from a facility or organization must not be undertaken lightly, and it must be approached with respect for the considered judgments of the past, especially when exercised by the contemporaries of the honoree, and with an awareness of the fallibility of our own judgments.”
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