Plaza House

Request to rescind and remove the name of Alexander Winchell House in the West Quadrangle Residence Hall approved

On Feb. 12, 2017, a U-M undergraduate student submitted a request that the name of Alexander Winchell House in West Quadrangle Residence Hall be reviewed pursuant to the review process. The PACOUH carefully evaluated the request and unanimously recommended to the president that the name be rescinded and removed. In doing so, the committee independently considered “the content of Winchell’s work, the trajectory of his life and career and the most recent findings of historians on the history of his period and his science.”

At the heart of the committee’s recommendation is their conclusion that by both contemporary standards and even in the context of Winchell’s day, his most notable work (the 1880 book “Preadamites, or a Demonstration of the Existence of Men before Adam”) was unambiguously racist and “out of step with the University’s own aspirations in those times as well.” According to the committee, portions of this book continue to be used today to support white supremacist views, thereby amplifying the negative contemporary effect of the Winchell naming, especially on “the actual building of communities” that we should aspire to in our residential housing.  Additional factors underlying their conclusion are detailed in the recommendation.

President Schlissel recommended that the Board of Regents authorize the rescindment and removal of the name of Alexander Winchell House as soon as is practicable.

Additional information

Request for review
Submitted by: Kevin Sweitzer, U-M undergraduate student

PACOUH research and recommendation

President Schlissel’s request for authorization to rescind and remove name