NJ’s Rider University renames campus building over slavery ties
LAWRENCE (Mercer) — Another New Jersey college has taken a look at its past changed the name of a building because of its connection slavery.
Rider University Trustees voted Wednesday to change the name of the Van Cleve Alumni House on their Lawrenceville campus to Alumni House following the recommendation of a task force studying Rider and the history of slavery.
In a letter to the Rider community, university President Gregory G. Dell’Omo said the task force found that Benjamin Van Cleve, a former state legislator and Assembly speaker first elected in 1777, owned slaves and spoke in support of slavery and strengthening restrictions on enslaved people.
"Van Cleve chose to champion the institution of slavery even as other citizens in New Jersey awoke to the cause of abolition and the horrors of human bondage. Judged by the standards of his time or ours, Van Cleve’s actions and attitudes have no place in the Rider community," Dell’Omo said.
His only connection was that the house was part of the campus when Rider purchased the property in 1956 that is now its current campus and was never named by the school.
Dell'Omo and the trustees unveiled a new sign on Thursday morning at the house along Route 206 with the new name.
Rutgers University's Trustees voted on Oct. 7 to remove the name of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph P. Bradley from a building at its Newark campus. Bradley's vote led to the Civil Rights Act of 1875 being overturned which critics say ushered in an era of discrimination against women and minorities.