By: Joshua Ceballos/News Director
The University’s Board of Trustees will not change the name of the Modesto Maidique Campus — at least not yet.
The BoT has been discussing the possibility of removing former President Modesto Maidique’s name from the University’s main campus since 2016, when Maidique and emeritus professor in history Bryan Peterson wrote an opinion piece in the Miami Herald criticizing the BoT.
As of today’s meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 5, which Student Media attended, the BoT has resolved to put down the conversation about the name change and override the ad hoc committee that was formed to discuss changing the name.
Trustee Cesar L. Alvarez brought the resolution up during the new business section of the meeting, saying that it was important to deal with this issue immediately rather than let it develop.
“I’d like to introduce a resolution that we put aside all pettiness and just focus on the best interest of FIU, and the best interest is to drop this name change and get it off the table,” said Alvarez.
Claudia Puig, chairwoman of the BoT said to Alvarez that it was the responsibility of the committee to decide on the issue of the name change, and they had decided on Tuesday, Sept. 4, not to take any action and to leave the discussion for later.
Alvarez, along with Trustee Marc D. Sarnoff, made the point that the longer the issue is left to hang in the air, the worse impact it will have on the University community.
“It’s a tsunami of bad publicity that is going to come to us very shortly with lawsuits about the bridge collapse, and we should be arm in arm and join together before this happens,” said Sarnoff. “I think we’re shooting ourselves with this issue, and I think it’s wrong, he used his First Amendment right to criticize the University.”
Sarnoff seconded the motion for Alvarez’s resolution to go to vote, and the University’s legal counsel informed Puig that because it was seconded, it had to be discussed and voted on.
Many of the trustees present at the meeting made remarks about the name change discussion, including Jose Sirven, president of the Student Government Council at MMC.
“I initially voted at the ad hoc committee to change the name… however I’ve heard from many students that they don’t want to change it, including in a survey I put out… so I need to vote today with the students and vote to keep the name,” said Sirven.
Other trustees disagreed that this matter should be put to rest so quickly, and felt that it needed to be discussed further at the committee, especially because of the policy the Board of Governors implemented which prevents academic institutions to be named after people. The policy came out after the campus took on Maidique’s name in 2009.
“I’m annoyed with the media that they’ve turned this into a First Amendment issue… that has nothing to do with the issue, it’s fake news or a lack of news that has turned this into something it’s not,” said Puig, who is also president and general manager of Local Media in Miami for Univision Communications Inc. “I’ve learned since the original naming that no institution should be named after anybody.”
After a lengthy round of discussion the matter was put to a vote, and seven out of 13 members voted to pass the resolution to not change the name. They also agreed to engage in conversations with Maidique about the possibility of moving his name to something else on the campus in the future.
Puig sent out an email to the University community about 40 minutes after the conclusion of the meeting formally stating that the Board has discontinued the conversations of changing MMC’s name.