This past week, East Hill Hall was renamed to Lee Hall, in honor of Thomas O’Malley’s mother, and some students aren’t particularly happy. O’Malley is, of course, an alum and benefactor that has made many donations to Manhattan College. Most notably the campus library is named after O’Malley and his wife, in honor of their donation to that project.
After the building name was formally dedicated, many students expressed annoyance at the name change. One individual went as far as to place a printed sign with the words East Hill on it, over the new sign that was installed on the front of the building that read Lee Hall.
Why are we angry that a building name changed? Was any student so attached to the name East Hill that they have legitimate reasons for being angry over the new name? I would assert that they were not and that they do not. Sure many of us have lived in what was East Hill and many of us have had a great time in the building, however the school isn’t closing the residence hall, and they are not changing the residence life experience, they are simply changing the name.
Maybe the student body forgets that Horan Hall was actually called East Hill first. Maybe we don’t realize that students still call café 1853 Plato’s even though that name changed a few years ago. At the end of the day the name starts to seem irrelevant.
A reality of college is that benefactors are necessary. Without the donations we would not have the ability to operate as a college. You may be wondering, is there anything wrong with that? Some within the MC community find issues with this process when they have no control over the building names and they do not agree with the chosen name. This could be seen when student protested after the naming of the in the Ray Kelly Commons. Those members of the MC community were upset with this decision and expressed that disdain as Kelly’s career as police commissioner was considered controversial due to his implementation of stop and frisk laws.
It is impossible to please everyone when it comes to changes on campus. However we must remember that the buildings we use could not exist without the money donated to the school. So don’t be upset that a Lee Hall sign has replaced an East Hill sign, because the student body won’t begin to call the building anything other than East Hill for at least a few years. Instead we must be sure that the building names reflect our values as an institution.