COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus State Community College said Tuesday it plans to remove a large Christopher Columbus statue from its campus “as soon as possible.”
“The removal of the Christopher Columbus statue is a symbolic gesture of our commitment to our College and in our community to continue and accelerate the fight against systemic racism,” said Columbus State President David Harrison. “Recent events, including the senseless deaths of African-Americans and the resulting anguish across the nation, compelled us to act on a years-long internal dialogue about the statue and the message it sends in our community. This inflection point will inform College policy and action both now and for years to come.”
The statue’s removal is drawing mixed reactions from students.
“I think they made a good decision, because of all that’s going on in the world right now,” said student Ibrahima Diallo.
“I can see it from both sides, but it’s called Columbus State College and it’s in Columbus Ohio,” student Felicia Smith said. “Are we changing the name of the university? What’s next?”
Columbus State hopes to have the statue removed in the next two weeks. The college will explore the process of getting a new art installation at the site of the statue.
In a letter sent to the Columbus State Community, the college’s president said:
I am writing to inform you that a plan is in place to remove the Christopher Columbus statue from our Columbus campus as soon as possible. Originally created by sculptor Alfred Solani in 1959, the statue was first installed in an Illinois park, and was moved to its current location in 1988. Physical details and logistics for the removal are still being planned, but we expect the statue to be removed and placed in storage in the next two weeks. This decision did not emerge solely in the wake of the senseless murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery but was a years-long dialogue out of concern and support for students of color who have been harmed and traumatized by systemic racism. This effort was led by many dedicated students, faculty, and staff.
As an institution of higher education with a specific mission to foster critical thinking and service to its community and student population, Columbus State has a unique opportunity and duty to address systemic racism on our campuses. The collegiate setting is often where students begin to refine their understanding of history and the world around them. Our students contributed their voices to this discourse around systemic racism, reinforcing the conclusion that the Christopher Columbus statue is not consistent with the values and mission of Columbus State. How we choose to memorialize or celebrate our history is always the result of choices and is both dynamic and evolving as we are inclusive of more voices.
Our students, community, faculty, and staff have consistently and patiently asked for the removal of the statue. We are listening. We will continue to grow as an institution that educates and inspires not only in the classroom but in every aspect of what we present to the community we serve. We commit to facilitate these difficult conversations and thoughtfully assess our present and future with an eye towards transparency, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Every step of societal progress should have happened sooner, and the removal of the statue is no exception. We will use this opportunity to re-envision our campus, and engage our community, students, faculty, and staff in developing spaces that promote inclusive learning for all. The removal of the Christopher Columbus statue is not the end, but rather the continuation of more discussions and changes to come. Removing the statue will not remedy all of our challenges, but it is a purposeful first step as we commit ourselves fully to fighting systemic racism and ensuring equal opportunity for every member of our community.
Last week, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther addressed calls for the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue from city property. You can read that story here.
In 2017, there were calls for the city of Columbus to remove the statue as well.