'It was incredibly powerful': OSU Dean of CAS reflects on Murray Hall protests

Glen Krutz

The Black Lives Matter movement has swept the nation. Protesters have filled the streets across America, each with the united goal to slay racism and end this unruly violence.

In Stillwater, protesters gathered outside of Murray Hall at OSU in an effort to have the names of Murray and North Murray Halls changed.

This isn’t the first time people have advocated to remove the name of the building named after former Governor William H. Murray who was known for his racist tactics, anti-semistism and support of Jim Crow laws.

College of Arts and Sciences Dean Glen Krutz — whose department oversees those halls — attended the protest.

“It was very moving,” Krutz said. “It was incredibly powerful to be there with my wife and kids. The whole thing was powerful. It was probably the most impactful, for my psyche, when we kneeled for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.”

That’s the exact time George Floyd was held down before he was killed by a Minneapolis police officer — the event that sparked, what Krutz called, the resurgence of the Black Lives Movement.

The national support that’s rippled across America is the driving force for the whole movement as well the Murray Hall name change.

But many at OSU were advocating for change even before that. Krutz lauded the efforts of OSU students, OSU leadership, Vice President for Institutional Diversity Dr. Jason F. Kirksey and the Student Government Association for their efforts.

Krutz also discussed how the climate the country is in is affecting the Murray Hall name change movement.

“I do think it does bring the topic of the name change into clearer view,” Krutz said.”It brings people together, like we were there on Saturday to discuss the problematic aspects of having that name on the building. I’d be quite surprised if this did not happen in the very near future.”

The dean is optimistic on the chances of the name changing happening, which says a lot about the state of the country right now.

And America is entrenched in the Black Lives Movement, which makes it important to understand where it stems from.

“I think the racism that African Americans face is both conscious by those who are racist some cases, but it’s also subconscious,” Krutz said. “And I thought after Furgeson, I thought there was a moment there, just like there’s a moment after each school shooting, where it seems like we ought to take that topic up more seriously

“I thought there was a moment then, but it didn’t go terribly far. And it’s an even bigger moment now.”

The 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, ravaged the country, but not to the degree it has now.

Which makes for a fair question: is this the tipping point for America?

As a political scientist as well as a scholar of public policy change, Krutz said there’s certain vocabulary that’s used in massive policy change, and that’s being used now.

“Just the words people are using across different racial groups, across different strato society, different geographies,” Krutz said. “They’re not using the sort of the euphemistic ‘we need to get better’ terminology, there’s specific words and some criticism...  If you look at the words that the media are using and the activists and even the elected leaders.”

The terminology is changing, and many are hopeful the name of Murray Hall is changing as well.

But what will it be changed to?

While Krutz hasn’t formally made a proposal and/or doesn’t have the power to choose a name, he said he loves the idea of having Nancy Randolph Davis’ name on the building, who was the first African-American to attend OSU.

“Nancy Randolph Davis’ attempts to become a graduate student at OSU are compelling,” Krutz said. “She really overcame and succeeded, and was an educator for over 40 years. While she’s not a graduate of our college, and Murray Hall and North Murray are CAS buildings, that’s OK. At the end of the day, all the buildings are OSU buildings.”

The name would be fitting, and it would be another positive step in the Black Lives Matter movement.

Still, there’s more to come.

“There’s a fickleness to American public opinion, we get distracted pretty easily, we get onto other topics,” Krutz said. “This moment, to have change, it really needs to move forward here sooner rather than later.”