GALLOWAY, N.J. — Stockton University has temporarily removed a bust of its namesake, who signed the Declaration of Independence and owned slaves.
The bust of Richard Stockton was removed from the New Jersey school’s library on Wednesday.
University President Harvey Kesselman told The Press of Atlantic City the discussion about the school’s namesake has been ongoing for years. He says the timing of the removal is relevant in the wake of the violent protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“It never was placed in context and I think that’s the most important thing about this,” Kesselman said.
In a Thursday letter to the campus, Provost Lori Vermeulen wrote the removal is temporary and the bust will return with an exhibit that is being developed to show a historical perspective and allow meaningful dialogue.
Stockton senior Sarah Amin said she thinks the removal is an overreaction. Kesselman said he expects backlash over the decision, but wants to give an educational perspective to all issues.
The college will be forming a committee to address the bust, and Vermeulen will be meeting with faculty and campus leaders next week to further develop the committee.
Stockton senior Dylan Perry said the issue is that “we have people in our nation with hate in their hearts” and removing the bust is an overreaction.
“Addressing the feelings that caused these statues to be removed would be a good plan going forward,” he said.