Proposal to remove Guy Bailey’s name from library open to public comment

Sawyer Loftus, Senior Staff Writer

The UVM board of trustees is looking for community comment on the proposed removal of former UVM president Guy Bailey’s name from the Bailey/Howe Library.

Demands for a name change stem from a March 22 statement from student group NoNames for Justice, who felt the name was inappropriate given Bailey’s involvement with the eugenics program, according to a March 26, 2018 Cynic Article.

In March 2018, the board of trustees created the Renaming Advisory Committee, charged with looking into former Bailey’s role in the UVM eugenics movement, according to an Aug. 13 email to the UVM Community.

The eugenics movement gained popularity in the early 1920’s and was “the quest for human betterment through selective breeding,” according to the UVM web page titled “Vermont Eugenics: A Documentary History.”

The movement lead to the systemic sterilization of over 60,000 Americans identified as mentally disabled or belonging to marginalized groups such as Native Americans and African Americans, according to Associate Professor Lutz Kaelber’s website about the movement.

In the early 1920’s, Professor Henry Perkins of the zoology department began to offer classes related to the eugenics movement, according to the website.

In 1925 Perkins began to design and implement a eugenics survey in Vermont, according to a proposal to the Advisory Committee that oversaw the Eugenics Survey of Vermont, which Bailey sat on.

The proposal, created by Professor Jackie Weinstock,  argues that former Bailey didn’t just sign off on a faculty member’s research into Eugenics, but rather helped gain significant funding for the project, Weinstock said.

“What I ended up finding, was that Guy Bailey actually wrote the official application to get the expanded [Eugenics] survey,” she said.

Weinstock said she looked to student group NoNames for Justice as inspiration for her role in the renaming process.

“I would give credit to the NoNames for Justice … for serving as the main impetus to get me even aware of the issue and researching it,” Weinstock said. “It was just a way for faculty to participate in this moment of change that the students had really created an opportunity for.”

Weinstock argues against potential critics that at the time Bailey and Perkins didn’t know that they were creating something that would lead to issues of racism and systemic sterilization across the country, she said.

“There was enough evidence at the time to say that the eugenics survey was built on racist beliefs and had the intention of leading to some policies and procedures that would be harmful to to many Vermonters,” Weinstock said.

The committee will be accepting community input until Sept. 14, according to an Aug.13 email from chair of the committee Ron Lumbra.

The earliest a recommendation may be made by the committee is at the Oct. 26 board of trustees meeting, the email stated.