Dear King’s Community,
I asked for the advice of the King’s Equity Committee on a range of questions relating to things the college should do in light of what we have learned about historical connections between King’s and slavery through the scholarly inquiry into those connections conducted over the past several years.
One of the recommendations I received from the Board’s Equity Committee is about the classroom named the Haliburton Room, after the prominent King’s graduate and writer, Thomas Chandler Haliburton. The Haliburton Room is currently the classroom on the first floor of the Arts and Administration Building. This is the 4th room at the University of King’s College to be named the Haliburton Room since the first Haliburton Room was named in 1891. The committee recommended removal of the name.
With one important qualification, I agree with the recommendation of the Equity Committee. I came to that conclusion by considering the recommendation of the Equity Committee and also the recent decision of the students’ literary society to change its name from the Haliburton Literary Society to the UKing’s Literary Society. I also considered the principles or considerations that should guide the decision on the Haliburton Room and on other questions about naming or renaming and honouring that may come forward in the future. This is important to ensure that decisions are made on a principled and consistent basis over time. It is also important to ensure adequate weight is given to all relevant factors, including not only the negative but the positive aspects of the lives of the people whose honouring by the college is challenged, and the positive association of honoured people with the lives of the members of the university community independently of their life and legacy and the reasons for which they were originally honoured.
I invite you to read the full reasoning behind the decision, which is outlined in this memo [PDF].
Earlier versions of this memo were distributed at a meeting of King’s faculty on Thursday March 2; to the Executive Committee of Board of Governors on Thursday March 4; and to the Board of Governors on Thursday April 1, all in 2021. In each of these meetings, I said Haliburton’s name would be removed from the classroom that is now the Haliburton Room before the end of the 2020-2021 academic year, unless objections were raised to my doing so that resulted in a contrary consensus. No objections have been raised with me.
I have asked our facilities department to remove the name and all references to the name in our wayfinding. Additionally, all references to the room have been removed from our Academic Timetable for Fall 2021. The room will temporarily be called Classroom AA1. Its renaming is also discussed in the memo referenced above, which I again invite you to read.
President and Vice-Chancellor
University of King’s College