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Missouri students
seek to remove homophobe's name from school building

Missouri students
seek to remove homophobe's name from school building

Students at the University of Missouri, Columbia, have launched a campaign to rename the student union building because it is christened in honor of a former dean who worked to purge the campus of gay students and professors more than a half-century ago. Erin Kennedy and two other students spent the summer poring over Thomas A. Brady's personal papers in the university archives and said the documents show that Brady regularly corresponded with the university president over ways ''to establish machinery for identification and apprehension'' of gay people. The student union was built and named Brady Commons in 1966, two years after Brady's death. Brady was also a history professor and a university vice president. ''We are not suggesting that Brady's ideals were out of the mainstream at the time,'' the students wrote in a recent issue of TheManeater, the student newspaper. ''We are simply wondering why [the university] would continue to leave a building...named after a man who represented where the university has been, rather than where it is going.'' The student union is in the early stages of a $58.7 million expansion that would nearly double its size. While the project has been temporarily dubbed the MU Student Center in hopes of attracting a donor interested in naming rights, campus officials have told the protesters that a section of the new complex will retain the Brady name. ''I'm sympathetic and empathetic to the students' issue,'' Mark Lucas, student life director, said Wednesday. ''But we're not sure that opening up an entire campus with 80 buildings to public scrutiny of people's past is the right way to do this.'' The students, who have posted the Brady documents on the Web, also cited his efforts to track the names of students, faculty, and community members working to hold an integrated student meeting on campus in 1947. Brady also argued for access to students' confidential medical and mental health records over the strenuous objections of university doctors, records show. ''Brady's actions went above and beyond simple ideology,'' the students wrote in the student newspaper, which has also editorialized in favor of the renaming. Kennedy, a senior majoring in sociology, said the university should instead consider honoring a black historical figure--something that black students on campus have sought for years. Brady's son, also named Thomas A. Brady, an emeritus professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley, suggested his father is being held to an unfair standard. ''We are all people of our times,'' he said. ''You would have to rename the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and probably Washington, D.C.'' (Alan Scher Zagier, AP)

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