Students, alumni upset over possible Fayetteville State University name change
Posted February 18, 2016 5:44 p.m. EST
Updated February 18, 2016 6:18 p.m. EST
Fayetteville, N.C. — Talk of a possible name change at Fayetteville State University is stirring up emotions for students and alumni at the historically black school.
Senator Phil Berger is putting together a bill that would lower tuition at FSU by $500 for in-state students and $2,500 for out-of-state students, but the plan also calls for changing the names and diversity of universities that were established for black and Native American students.
Fayetteville State University is no stranger to name changes. It was established in 1867 as the Howard School for Education of African-Americans. Ten years later, it was renamed the State Colored Normal School in Fayetteville. It became Fayetteville State Teachers College in 1930 and Fayetteville State College in 1963 before adopting its current name in 1969.
“It already changed its name five times, so I think five is enough,” said student Aaliyah Jacobs.
FSU is part of the University of North Carolina system, so a current proposal in the Senate would change the school’s name to UNC-Fayetteville.
The proposed name change is not going over well with some students and alumni.
“I honestly think it’s bad because FSU started out as an HBCU (historically black college or university) and therefore I always think it should stay an HBCU,” said Jacobs. “Seven black men founded this university so I feel like it should stay that way.”
The potential name change for FSU is similar to what happened at the Pembroke State University in Robeson County. The school was originally established for the education of Native American students but in 1996 it became UNC-Pembroke.
State leaders said changes could open schools like FSU to a more diverse student population, but some alumni fear that may change the heritage of the school.
“I think it’s a done job as it is. It’s brought us where we are today and I don’ think we need to be changing the name,” said Cumberland County FSU Alumni Association President Curtis Worthy.
Worthy argued that if the name change is just for the sake of branding, all schools within the UNC system should be renamed as well.
Student Vanessa Kokoszka agreed, saying changing the name to UNC-Fayetteville will take away some of the heritage of the university that was the first black school to open in North Carolina. Not all students were opposed to the change, though.
“The name of the school, everybody’s pride is not going to change. We still won’t be white so I’m not that type of guy,” said student Jason Lee. “UNC-Fayetteville, Fayetteville State, I’m still going to be playing here.”
Other students noted that the name change may actually benefit alumni after graduation.
“You’re applying for a job and on your resume it says UNC-Fayetteville and it might be a little bit more attractive that Fayetteville State University,” said student Haley Wood.