The University of Richmond has canceled its annual “Giving Day” donation drive after alumni mounted a pressure campaign in response to a controversy over two buildings’ racist namesakes, The Daily Beast has learned. The move will likely cost the school more than a million dollars. In 2020, the college raised $1.55 million dollars in the pledge drive, according to a press release. Giving Day 2021 had not yet begun when it was nixed, so the tally for this year could well be $0. The University of Richmond posted an “update” Tuesday on its donations website: “UR Here Giving Day has been paused. We will communicate with our community as soon as we reschedule. We remain focused on securing support for our students and look forward to holding UR Here in the near future.”
A building on campus is named after Rev. Robert Ryland, a slave owner and the university’s founding president, and another bears the name of Douglas Southall Freeman, a prominent proponent of segregation and eugenics. Despite student, faculty, and alumni concerns, the school’s board of trustees has refused to erase the names. Alumni organized via a Facebook group to boycott donating, with hundreds saying via an informal poll that they would abstain from giving, according to Chris Wiggins, a journalism major from the class of 2003. He told The Daily Beast, “We alumni feel the university continually reaches out to us for donations, but when we’re trying to support the voices of students, faculty, and staff in regards to diversity, inclusion, and equity, our voices aren’t being heard, and so we’re engaging with this issue in a way that the board of trustees can’t ignore.” The school’s Black Student Coalition has led efforts to rename the buildings, Wiggins said, and it was around that group’s concerns that alumni coalesced. An in-person protest is planned for noon Wednesday on campus, he said, putting additional pressure on the university to avoid the unseemly appearance of students demonstrating while it solicits contributions.