UNC students protest building named for KKK leader on last day of classes

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Students at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill are rallying once again to have the name of a building on campus changed.

Saunders Hall is named after UNC graduate and former trustee William Saunders. Saunders was a colonel in the Civil War and leader of the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina during the 1800s.

The organizers are marking the last day of classes at UNC with what they're calling a "takeover of the quad."

Participating students said it's their last chance to drive home their message before the school year ends. They've even hung a banner over Saunders Hall demonstrating just how much they want the name of author Zora Neale Hurston to greet students at the entrance.

"We're very optimistic it will be renamed," student Michelle Xia said.

The UNC Board of Trustees is still seeking public comments online about whether Saunders Hall should be renamed. The form to submit comments can be found here.

Regardless, student organizers felt it was necessary to encourage all students to have their voices heard before the academic year comes to an end.

The building's rename was not the only cause that brought hundreds of students to the quad on Friday in a show of solidarity. The comments of a recent guest speaker on campus about a Muslim student group sparked the hashtag #NotSafeUNC.

"So we just wanted it to be a platform where they can express themselves and be able to connect their struggles with other struggles, whether it be homophobia, Islamaphobia, sexism, or racism," said student Nicole Fauster.

At this rally, students from all walks of life say they are writing a new chapter in UNC's history.

To view the UNC Board of Trustees' presentation on renaming Saunders Hall, click here.

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