Students and alumni at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia are petitioning the prestigious art school to strip Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ name from an academic building.
The petition on Change.org is called “Take A Sexual Predator’s Name Off of SCAD’s Building” and had more than 1,000 signatures by Friday morning.
“I don’t want any other female who has hopes and dreams to have to walk through the doors of that building. They shouldn’t have to be subjugated to that toxic feeling,” said recent graduate Sage Lucero, who started the petition, according to WJCL. .
The three-story brick building, dotted with windows and fronted by a large ivy-covered tree, is home to the Clarence Thomas Center for Historic Preservation, according to the school. It was built in 1908 and was previously an orphanage and convent for the Missionary Sisters of the Franciscan order.
Thomas, who grew up in Savannah, served as an altar boy there as a child, leading the school to name the restored building after him in 2010, according to the college.
But amid furious debate over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, some are demanding a change.
“In the four years I attended Savannah College of Art and Design, I wasn’t aware there was in fact a building named after Clarence Thomas until it was brought to my attention due to the recent occurrences in the Supreme Court involving Dr. Ford and Brett Kavanaugh,” Lucero wrote in the petition.
When Clarence Thomas was nominated for the Supreme Court in 1991, Anita Hill came forward with allegations he had sexually harassed her when she had worked for him. He denied the allegations, and the accusations set in motion a barrage of hearings that eventually led the Senate to vote 52-48 to confirm Thomas to the Supreme Court, according to George Mason University.
Kavanaugh faces allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman when they were both at a party in high school. He denied the allegations, and he and his accuser, Christine Blasey-Ford, testified in hearings in September.
“When will we learn that a victim’s trauma should outweigh politics? For women like Dr. Ford, and Anita Hill to come forward and speak out about what happened to them is extremely traumatic. For someone to not believe a victim who remembers sheer details such as laughter and has gone through therapy because of it is honestly disgraceful,” Lucero wrote in the petition.
Lucero wants the school to rename the building after Anita Hill.
“It’s utterly disgraceful to me that I attended a school where a building was named after a sexual predator. And not just any sexual predator, one who wrongfully won against a woman’s word,” she wrote.
When asked their opinion, many students said they didn’t even know the building had been named for Clarence Thomas, WJCL reported.
“I just think it’s a great coincidence that it’s coming out right now, for me at least, and making sure everyone else realizes it,” Lucero said, according to WTOC.
One student, senior Andrew Paynter, said he didn’t have an opinion about renaming the building, but he took issue with the language on the petition, according to WJCL.
“The claims were of sexual harassment in the workplace. Being a sexual predator means you violently sexually assault people,” the student said, according to the station. “Their bold claims seem to be too harmful. In our society, you just can’t accuse people of things.”
Some on Facebook said they thought renaming the building was a bad idea.
The college said it was aware of the petition and had reached out to Lucero, WSAV reported.