BYU Students Start Petition To Change Building Name Over Slavery Ties

Jun 16, 2020, 11:23 PM | Updated: Jun 17, 2020, 8:48 am

PROVO, Utah – A group of BYU students and alumni is asking the university to change the name of one of its buildings.

The school’s administration building is named after Abraham O. Smoot, a prominent figure in the school’s history whose legacy includes slavery.

BYU graduate Tristan Quist said he went almost four years on campus without knowing Smoot’s history.

“When I found out honestly I was disgusted and shocked but I probably should not have been,” Quist said. “It should have been more publicly known.”

The records of a man named “Tom,” buried at the Salt Lake City Cemetery, showed that he was inherited by a man who traveled with him to the Utah Territory and was later acquired by Abraham Smoot.

Students started a petition this week, which had already received nearly 100 signatures. Its organizers believe parts of Smoot’s history aren’t well known and hope their push for change will bring those to light.

“We are uncomfortable with that and we don’t want the building that houses the highest offices of BYU to bear the name of somebody who enslaved other human beings,” said BYU graduate Coleman Parker.

Student Cole Stewart-Johnson felt now is the time for the university to change the building’s name.

“There is a big push around the country to remove all statues or anything that commemorates somebody who basically didn’t stand for what we stand for now,” Stewart-Johnson said. “Although [Smoot] did make a big contribution we can talk about him, we can mention him, but we aren’t going to idealize someone who enslaved others in the past.”

The group said the latest comments made by BYU President Kevin J. Worthen in response to the recent deaths of unarmed black men and women were giving them optimism.

“He made a statement that said we have work to do on campus to address the injustices of racism and we are just encouraging the administration to take ownership of those words with this petition,” Quist said.

KSL reached out to BYU for a comment but had not heard back as of Tuesday evening.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Tiffani Fergeson talks about sobriety at her home in Clearfield. Credit: Tanner Siegworth, KSL-TV....
Annie Knox and Daniella Rivera, KSL TV

Did ‘poison pill’ in state’s opioid settlement leave money on the table for one Utah county

CLEARFIELD, Utah – Tiffani Fergeson gets teary when she talks about the moment she decided to get sober. “It changed everything for me,” Ferguson said through tears. A woman whose checks Fergeson had forged for drug money was testifying against her in a Weber County courtroom three years ago when Fergeson had a thought: If […]
1 day ago
Matt Gephardt and Cindy St. Clair

Lehi man ordered to rip out his new xeriscape landscaping by his HOA

As he was building a new home in Lehi, Jared Hadley was eager to heed the calls to put in landscaping that uses little or no water. But you know who doesn't like it? Hadley’s homeowner's association.
1 day ago
Flowers left for the 17-year-old victim....
Shara Park and Lauren Steinbrecher, KSL TV

Springville experiences fourth death in a week due to gun violence

Police are investigating a third homicide, and fourth death in a week due to gun violence.
1 day ago
Leslee Henson Rasmussen and her husband, David Henson, had recently moved to St. George and were ou...
Ladd Egan, KSL TV

‘We were high school sweethearts:’ Survivor of auto-pedestrian crash that killed husband fights for safer roads

SANDY, Utah – In the nine years after her husband was hit a killed by a suspected distracted driver, a Utah woman has been on a mission to educate drivers and strengthen the state’s distracted driving laws. “I don’t want anybody to go through that tragedy again of walking down the sidewalk with their loved […]
1 day ago
Search and rescue crews stressed water safety and wearing life vests out on Utah's lakes. (Aubrey S...
Alex Cabrero, KSL TV

‘Play it safe:’ Father of drowning victim warns people headed to the water this weekend

If you plan on taking your boat out this Memorial Day weekend, be careful.
1 day ago
Emalyce Kee, a Navajo and Rosebud Sioux, holds her 2021 beaded graduation cap Wednesday, May 25, 20...
SAM METZ and RICK BOWMER Associated Press

Utah Native students exercise right to wear regalia at graduation

Native American students in southern Utah donned beaded caps and eagle feathers at high school graduations this week, months after the state passed a law enshrining their right to wear tribal regalia at the ceremonies. Utah is among a growing list of states where lawmakers have responded to reports of Native American students being barred from wearing beaded caps or eagle feathers at graduation by passing laws to stop school districts from banning them.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Make Money Online Easily...

4 Ways that You Can Make Money Online Easily in Just a Few Clicks

Here are 4 ways that you can make money online easily in no time at all! Some are as simple as just a few clicks away.
tips to winterize your home...
Bonneville Digital SLC

Tips to Winterize Your Home | The Top 5 Ways You Can Prepare for the Cold Utah Winter Ahead

Before the snow hits, here are the top 5 tips to winterize your home to prepare for the cold Utah winter this year.
BYU Students Start Petition To Change Building Name Over Slavery Ties