New details emerge on DUC name change

The name of the Downing University Center has been changed to Dero Downing Student Union.

New details have emerged about the changing of the Downing University Center to the Downing Student Union, revolving around the Student Government Association’s involvement, or lack of involvement, in the process.

Howard Bailey, vice president for Student Affairs, and the rest of the administrative council formally approved the name change Tuesday, but the decision had already been made in March. 

“We’ve ordered the stone work that will go up on the building upon its completion with a new name,” Bailey said. “The contractor said the time had come where in order to have the molding made for the concrete structure, it was time for them to order it.”

Bailey said SGA was asked to be involved in the name change process once again prior to the March letter ordering decision. Bailey said he contacted then SGA President Cory Dodds to bring the matter before the officers and senators of student government. 

Dodds returned to Bailey after speaking with SGA, saying there was no strong opinion among SGA either in support of the name change or in opposition to it. Bailey moved forward with the name change.

“They didn’t have an opinion, and they didn’t decide to bring forward a formal resolution,” Bailey said. 

In 2011, the name change was brought before students in the form of an SGA resolution. The resolution was shot down 19-8, with debate from both SGA senators and students in attendance.

Keyana Boka, SGA’s current president, said she had heard about the name change late last semester from other groups that Bailey had talked to, but didn’t know officially about the change until she met with Bailey in late May. 

Boka said she was glad SGA was asked to write a resolution in 2011 and gauge student interest. 

“There was student involvement in the decision a couple years ago,” she said. “And there were students for it and students against it.” 

Boka said she spoke to students and alumni about the name change both when the resolution was written and last semester, and said she got mixed responses. She said some were just confused about why the name was changing, but once they know the reason behind it, they might understand.

“There’s a strong tradition with that name, so many of them have been against it because of that strong tradition with the DUC name,” she said.

Boka does not remember the name change being discussed with the senate, but said it may have come up in an executive board meeting. However, at the time, she said not many people knew about the decision and whether or not it was official. 

Bailey said the name change is now official, and does not have to go before the Board of Regents for approval. 

President Gary Ransdell said he thinks the name change is a good idea, but he relied on the Student Affairs staff to know what other universities are calling their student buildings. 

“The only perspective that I have is I want to be sure we pay proper respect to the gentleman for who the building is named,” Ransdell said.

When Ransdell attended WKU as a student from 1969-1973, he said the building was referred to as the Downing Center, as it was for about the first 15 to 20 years of its existence, before the DUC nickname came about. 

Ransdell said he thinks that nickname might not have shown respect for former WKU President Dero Downing, and the new name “gets back to a more respectful nomenclature.”