Despite an online petition signed by more than 18,000 people, a Harding University auditorium will not be renamed after deceased Saint Lucian, Botham Jean.
Jean, a graduate of the learning institution, was shot and killed in 2018 by a Dallas police officer as he sat in his apartment eating ice cream.
Amber Guyger was fired from the police force, indicted for murder and sentenced to ten years in jail for the offence.
Harding University President Bruce McClarty said the George S. Benson Auditorium name will remain.
He noted that Benson, Harding’s second president, was described in the petition as a vocal racist ans supporter of segregation.
“Dr. Benson indeed gave speeches in chapel opposing integration of Harding College in the late 1950s. That he said these things is true, and Harding University regretfully acknowledges that. Yet, before the end of his tenure, this man who defended racial segregation presided over the integration of Harding College in 1963,” McClarty observed.
He said as he considered the question of renaming the Benson Auditorium, he has wrestled with how the Christian messages of sin and redemption, guilt and grace, judgment and forgiveness all fit into this.
According to the University President, it is important, “as we wrestle with the difficult issues of our time, that we not forget “weightier matters” like justice, mercy, and faithfulness.”
“I have reflected a great deal on Hebrews 11, the presentation of “Faith’s Hall of Fame.” I’ve wondered how many Bible heroes we would have left if we labeled everyone according to their worst moment, their greatest sin or their most embarrassing weakness,” he wrote.
“We will honor the memory of Botham Jean in some physical way during this next year,” McClarty wrote in a letter on the institution’s website.
He said he did not want to approach the matter as an either, or, situation.
“Botham will be honored in his own unique way on our campus. This could be with a bronze statue of Botham leading singing or it could be the naming of an academic program in his honor. That remains to be determined, but the name of Botham Jean will be prominently and permanently placed on the Harding campus during the coming school year,” the University President asserted.