Recently, it has been found that Samuel Schmucker, former WCU professor that “earned” his name on the university’s science building is a eugenicist. And since little action was being put forth, a group of students, including myself, gathered together to form a campaign for change.
Students Against Schmucker (SAS) was formed in recent months, where the group of about 15 students worked on creating posters, flyers and social media posts, and even spoke at the recent Council of Trustees meeting.
But there’s a lot more behind every campaign, including this one, that outsiders don’t see.
To attribute to the fact that organizing is mainly behind the scenes, SAS member and student Mara Gross stated, “Organizing is hard, and I think it took us a while to get our footing because the more we organized, the more tasks needed to be completed. With that, we had to figure out a way to divvy things up, while also keeping tabs on every moving part.”
The efforts put into the SAS campaign is worth it to many students. Another member, Rebecca Romero, explains why she wants the name gone, “My number one goal here is to make sure this name changing sends a clear message that this isn’t about the name but the principle. I don’t want the name changed because Schmucker was a bad person; I want the name changed because WCU preaches diversity, inclusion and a place for marginalized communities while not practicing it. It is especially important for WCU, a university, a PWI in a predominantly white community, to recognize that this is about more than just the name.”
The work that the group has done so far has been successful. The student petition has gained over 500 signatures, which has more than doubled since SAS was formed. We also created a petition for faculty and staff at WCU, which has gained over 100 signatures. Our Instagram has also gained over 100 followers in just one week.
“I think I speak for everyone when I say we had no idea our campaign would blow up the way it did. Our mission is kind of niche, and I figured some people would be somewhat dismissive of it, deeming it as something that wasn’t a priority or maybe even just a reach,” said Gross.
On another positive note, the Council of Trustees meeting resulted in initiating the formation of a committee (next semester) of both faculty and students to facilitate future research regarding the building’s current name as well as recommendations for a new name.
What students in this group have taken away is much greater than simply the results of the name of the science building. The campaign has made many of us realize the power that students can have when we join together as a group with a mission.
Nellie Schum is a SAS member who said that her favorite part of the campaign has been “working beside peers who are passionate about making a change.”
Gross also acknowledges this, “Seeing so many people care and all the efforts that went into this campaign has really heartened me. I’m so happy to have made all these genuine people along the way, as well as making such great progress in our community! Any initial doubts I may have had totally subsided because I’m truly so touched by all that everyone’s put into this.”
Students Against Schmucker’s work is not done. There are steps that need to be taken in order to get Schmucker’s name officially removed from the building. If you’re interested in joining the campaign and attending meetings, you can reach out to the group on Instagram (@studentsagainstschmucker) for more details. If you want to learn more about Samuel Schmucker, check out The Quad’s previous articles “Students Call for Action After Schmucker Publications” and “Expert Opinion on The Schmucker Controversy.”
Peighton Schwalm is a fourth-year English major with a minor in journalism. firstname.lastname@example.org.