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OSU holds final meeting on fate of building names

Oregon State University's Gill Coliseum, September 19, 2017. (SBG)

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Staff at Oregon State University are considering changing the name of four buildings after students expressed concern that each were named after racists.

They've held meetings discussing each building's history.

Those buildings include Benton Hall, the first building on campus at Oregon State, Arnold Dining Center, Avery Lodge and Gill Coliseum.

Amory Tingle "Slats" Gill was OSU's men's basketball coach from 1928-1964.

He led his team to win four Pacific Coast Conference championships and took five teams to the NCAA tournament.

After Gill's death in 1966, the State Board of Higher Education officially named the arena "Gill Coliseum.”

But university officials say students and community members have voiced concern that Slats Gill was racist.

Since concerns about his history were raised, the university has been on a fact-finding mission.

"It's an important process and, literally, the historians went back into birth records,” explained Vice President of University Relations Steve Clark. “They looked at census records. We interviewed folks. We also did research on histories that were published from those eras."

After taking public input and holding previous discussions, officials say two different committees will examine all public comments along with historical accounts on each building before making any decisions.

Although officials say it has been a long process, they say they're happy with the community turnout.

"At the result of that, maybe folks can say, 'Yes, I now agree with you,' or, you can have a consensus of the community. We don't think whatever we do is going to please everyone, but we think this process actually brought people together."

At the end of November, OSU President Edward Ray will announce the university's decision on whether they will change the names.

People have until November 15 to submit concerns or comments to the university.

If you'd like to provide input to the name changes or receive more information, visit OSU's website.

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