The C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum, commonly known as “Tad Pad,” is coming to an end. Soon it will be replaced by a larger, improved basketball arena with a new name. Eventually, the building that looks like a blue flying saucer will be razed and the site repurposed. As they say, that’s progress.
Of course, building renovations, new constructions and the subsequent renaming of said facilities is nothing new at Ole Miss. I can remember when Crosby Hall was known as New Dorm, a moniker it held for more than two decades before finally getting a “real” name. During that time, several campus legends speculated on names that were suggested – and discarded – for the campus’ largest women’s residence hall.
Before its renovation and dedication as Brevard Hall, the building that houses the School of Engineering’s administrative offices was known for years as Old Chemistry or Old Chem. Before the Department of Journalism, now the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, found residency in Farley Hall, the “J School” and The Daily Mississippian were housed in Brady Hall, a small, renovated house with a popular porch swing on University Avenue. That building was torn down to make way for the Thad Cochran Research Center.
For two years after I began working here, my wife and I lived in one of several antique houses on what was then Faculty Row. Those houses were all moved off campus and later sold to establish a subdivision off Molly Barr Road. On the land where they once stood are the Residential College and the Luckday Residential College.
The main theater in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts became the Sam and Mary Haskell Theatre. A student lounge in Bondurant Hall became the (Barry) Hannah-(Richard) Ford Room for Writers. The downstairs microform room in the J.D. Williams Library was renovated and named Ainsworth Commons.
Buildings and rooms aren’t the only things that get named (and renamed) on campus. What has been known as Confederate Drive soon will be called Chapel Lane. The Black Student Union Choir that I once sang in as a student years ago has evolved into the University of Mississippi Gospel Choir. The Black Studies program of the 1970s has become the African-American Studies Program. The old Y Building, which housed programs for international students and religious life, is known as the Croft Institute for International Studies.
Names and titles are always subject to change, but functions and operations often remain the same. This is particularly true when it comes to behaviors and social norms. Identity must be based on who we are, not just the names to which we respond or react. Hopefully, when we reach that level of understanding, we can divest ourselves of the emotional attachments and associations we often make to names and labels, respecting and honoring ALL.
Now that will be TRUE progress.