Students at Hofstra University are demanding the removal of a statue of Thomas Jefferson because of his ties to slavery.
A petition calling on administrators to remove the statue has collected over 1,100 signatures. The statue, placed at the front entrance of Hofstra's Student Center, has been under fire especially because of its prominent location. The petition states that the student center is home to "several important offices and resources" and is one of the most popular spaces on campus. The petition calls for the statue to be placed in a museum. The petition was started by Hofstra student Ja’Loni Owens.
"While Jefferson’s architectural designs have gone on to inspire the designs of many American universities, Jefferson’s values aided in the construction of institutionalized racism and justified the subjugation of black people in the United States," Owens wrote in the petition.
"It is unfortunate then that a bronze sculpture of a 71-year-old Thomas Jefferson, gifted to the university by Hofstra Trustee David Mack, is right in front of the Student Center."
Penn has also been scrutinized recently for the University's ties to slavery. In February, history and education professor Jonathan Zimmerman wrote a column in The New York Daily News calling on Penn to publicly acknowledge Benjamin Franklin’s slave ownership. A research study conducted by a group of undergraduate students associated with the Penn History of Slavery Project found that 20 out of the 28 founding University trustees they investigated had financial ties to the slave trade.
Penn and Hofstra are not the only educational institutions who have recently uncovered historical ties to slavery.