Winthrop University officials say someone has again vandalized Tillman Hall, and the act was discovered Monday morning – the day of the school’s ceremonial Convocation and first day of fall semester classes.
President Dan Mahony sent an email to campus employees Monday morning to say facilities staff workers found the vandalism. In his message, the president did not specify where the vandalism occurred at Tillman or what type of damages were done.
I will address how we move forward as a campus community at today’s Board of Trustees meeting.
Winthrop President Dan Mahony
A Winthrop employee provided The Herald with a copy of Mahony’s email.
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A Winthrop University spokesman said the vandalism was outside the building but declined to offer specifics.
“We’re not going to give a voice to the vandalism,” spokesman Jeff Perez said.
He noted the vandalism, which has since been cleaned up, appeared to be related to the desire to rename the building.
The vandalism is the second in Tillman Hall this summer. In July, a suspect used red paint to scrawl “violent racist” over the portrait of Benjamin Tillman, whom the administrative building is named after.
Tillman, a noted white supremacist who advocated lynching any black who tried to vote, served as governor and as a U.S. senator from 1890 to 1918. Recently, concerns have been raised at Winthrop and Clemson University – which also has a building named for the former politician – with some people asking school leaders to rename campus buildings honoring Tillman.
In his email on Monday, Mahony wrote:
“As I have stated before, Ben Tillman was inarguably a racist. Under the leadership of our provost, Dr. Debra Boyd, we have begun an important conversation about how best to remember Winthrop’s history, both good and bad. However, no one has the right to attempt to monopolize this important conversation by defacing property of the university, which belongs to all of us. I will address how we move forward as a campus community at today’s Board of Trustees meeting.”
Tillman Hall was originally called Main Building. It was finished in 1896 after two years of construction. The building was rededicated and named for Benjamin Tillman in 1962 after a building on Winthrop’s campus previously named for Tillman was torn down.
Check back for more details.