In the wake of monuments and buildings named after Confederate icons, one college in South Jersey is battling controversy over its name.
Stockton University, located in Galloway, N.J., is known for its picturesque campus located near Lake Fred. The university is preparing for its 2018 opening of its Atlantic City campus that includes dorms overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
The college, however, is named after Richard Stockton, who is known for his signature on the Declaration of Independence but who was also a slave owner. Reports indicate that last month a bust of Stockton was removed from the campus library.
“The decision to temporarily remove the bust of Richard Stockton from our library entrance has created the opportunity to engage in a discussion of the man, his role in America’s history and how we might remember him today,” school officials said in statement.
The statement went on to say that Stockton’s bust will be added to another location for an exhibit on Stockton. The school hopes the exhibit will ignite a discussion on controversies in American history that “strengthens and unites us.”
Issues over the school’s name have been simmering for years. Stockton University was founded in 1969 and named after Stockton, who was a native of Princeton, N.J., and served in the U.S. House of Representatives for New Jersey in the 1790s and early 1800s. He was also the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey.
“If you look in our 40th [anniversary], you’ll see that the discussion began to take place then,” said Stockton University President Harvey Kesselman. “It never was placed in context, and I think that’s the most important thing about this.”
This week, Stockton University dealt with its own battle of white supremacists on campus. Reports indicate that three people posted white nationalist flyers around campus. The suspects were caught on surveillance camera and police are trying to identify the individuals.
School officials said the flyers were not authorized by the university to be posted and that they contained information about the “alt-right” and white supremacist group “Identity Evropa.”
Stockton University has a student population of more than 8,700. The Black students account for just under 7 percent of the student body.