Yost Name Review

Over the course of the 2020 calendar year, the Office of the President received requests to review the honorific naming of Fielding H. Yost on Yost Ice Arena. Pursuant to the published process for historical name reviews on university buildings, the President’s Advisory Committee on University History has reviewed the matter and conveyed to President Mark S. Schlissel a preliminary recommendation to remove the name.

As the review process provides that in certain instances, “where relevant and after appropriate consultation with the President, a broader, community outreach may be invited,” the President’s Advisory Committee on University History is inviting interested U-M community members to submit feedback through June 7, 2021 on the Committee’s Preliminary Summary Recommendation and Historical Analysis. Each feedback submission will be reviewed and an overall summary of the community feedback will be shared with the president as part of the Committee’s final recommendation.

The U-M community (students, faculty, staff, and alumni) is invited to leave feedback, which will be published on this page, via the form below. Anyone who wishes to submit feedback for consideration, but does not want their submission to be published online, may do so via email or U.S. mail.

Anonymous feedback submissions are not permitted.

Documents for Public Feedback

Report on the Fielding H. Yost Name on the Yost Ice Arena: Preliminary Summary Recommendation

Report on the Fielding H. Yost Name on the Yost Ice Arena: Historical Analysis

Comments

  1. Evan Valk
    on May 24, 2021 at 2:39 pm

    Are we really going to revisit decisions made in the 20’s and 30’s and hold them to the standards of 2021? Yost Ice Arena will always be Yost Ice Arena–it was before I was a student at UM, while I was a student, and should be known by that name for long into the future. Lets not start erasing the legacy of Fielding Yost.

  2. Andrew Lyng
    on May 24, 2021 at 2:43 pm

    I strongly oppose the movement to rename Yost Ice Arena. I am not categorically opposed to taking down statues or renaming buildings when the figure or movement in question is principally known for, or specifically being commeorated for, immoral or bigoted acts or views. The classic example of this is confederate statues, where the figures being honored are honored precisely BECAUSE they sought to commit treason and uphold the enslavement of other human beings.

    No one remembers or commenorates Yost because of his views on race or religion. He is remembered for this role in building up the football program and his role in developing Michigan athletics generally. Acting as though remembering and honoring his contributions is beyond the pale because he held conventional views on race for the time, and on one occasion caved to racist pressure from southern schools, is cowardly and does nothing to materially improve conditions for marginalized groups.

    It is an empty, virtue signaling gesture that will be swiftly forgotten, especially when they sell the naming rights to some ghoulish corporation that undoubtedly harms the poor and marginalized far more than a long dead man with outdated views.

  3. David Parzen
    on May 24, 2021 at 2:48 pm

    This is really eye opening. I fully support the committee’s recommendation.

  4. Andrew Bennett-Belch
    on May 24, 2021 at 2:58 pm

    I do not support the renaming of Yost Ice Arena.

  5. Connor Thompson
    on May 24, 2021 at 3:07 pm

    First and most important, whatever the university chooses to do, I hope that talking about maybe changing the name of the hockey arena is not the only thing it does to make amends for past moral failings in the athletic department. The people after which we name buildings are important because the university is choosing to elevate them as exemplary people who were part of this institution, and we should be careful about whom we choose to venerate. But there is absolutely more to be done.

    Second, Fielding Yost’s name is all over the university’s history books as a coach and athletic director regardless of whether it’s also on a building. Whatever choice the university makes will do nothing to change or erase Yost’s history as a coach who won a lot of games and an athletic director who made the university a lot of money, all the while vehemently opposing the football team’s integration.

    This discussion is ultimately about whether there’s anybody else in the history of the school who exhibited the same qualities that we say make this “the best university in the world” without having their record tainted by such a hateful black mark. If such a person exists, we should honor them by putting their name on a building so everyone who passes it or walks through its doors sees that this is a person that Michigan says represents the best of itself. If Yost really is the best we have, keep him up there, and shame on all of us that this is the best we can do.

  6. Andrea Kayal
    on May 24, 2021 at 3:18 pm

    I am absolutely in support of REMOVING Yost’s name from the arena. Thank you for taking action against racism.

  7. Teresa Juarez
    on May 24, 2021 at 3:19 pm

    I do not support the removal of Yost’s name. We should stop judging historical figures against modern social standards.

  8. Andrew Persons
    on May 24, 2021 at 3:48 pm

    The recommendation notes Yost’s name on a building places his athletic accomplishments “above humanity.” I find that to be a dramatic claim that underestimates humanity’s ability to acknowledge two truths at the same time: One, we have collectively been (and continue to be) part of a movement throughout our country’s history toward a society that universally cherishes our equal rights and equal value. Two, by definition a progression from worse to better includes parts that are worse. If we are to place names of any humans on buildings, monuments or positions of importance because of their accomplishments, it is only obvious those humans also sinned. Removing the name with the “worst” sin will surely point us to the next “worst,” and eventually lead us to a prohibition on memorializing any human accomplishments. While I don’t find Yost’s accomplishments to be very important in human history, the removal of his name after nearly 100 years of intentional recognition seems more an emotional reaction to the current surge of sentiment than righting any wrong.

  9. Henry Holland
    on May 24, 2021 at 4:03 pm

    I do not support the name change for many of the reasons cited by those in opposition.

  10. John Poelstra
    on May 24, 2021 at 4:04 pm

    As others have expressed so eloquently above I do not think the name of Fielding Yost should be removed from Yost Arena. In the eyes of God we are all flawed as human beings. But we do have some redeeming qualities; some more than others. And together we make progress despite these flaws of ours. But cancelling Fielding Yost’s name does not just cancel the good that he has done for the University but it also cancels the bad deeds as well for they will soon become forgotten. We should humble ourselves in recognition that the University of Michigan, not just Fielding Yost, had its flaws as well. By cancelling Fielding Yost we would be white-washing the University’s roll in this and soon forget this part of dark history that we should always acknowledge. Fielding Yost’s name forces us to remember that there are no earthly saints but we can still do good despite our many flaws. Will those that support CRT and BLM be judged next 50-100 years from now?

  11. Gregory Green
    on May 24, 2021 at 4:04 pm

    I do not agree with this proposal, no human is ever perfect and no person alive decades ago can be judged by the standards of today.

  12. Rudolph Pomper
    on May 24, 2021 at 4:19 pm

    I do not support the removal of Fielding Yost’s name from the ice arena.

  13. Christopher Gerben
    on May 24, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    Change it. He was not only racist, he was openly anti-Catholic, acting as the organizing force to ban Notre Dame from the Big Ten not because he lost terribly to them (which he did) but because of their religious affiliation.

  14. Richard Potchynok
    on May 24, 2021 at 4:47 pm

    I disagree with changing the name. I agree with Susan Betzig who said
    “I do not think Yost Arena should be renamed. I do not think that the Yost name should be explained or denigrated by the University 100 years after the man’s contributions and mistakes were made. I think this entire process in a waste of resources, both human and financial.” Continuing to destroy history based on today’s thinking is a path to repeating the worst parts of it.

  15. William Dietz
    on May 24, 2021 at 4:48 pm

    Everyone in favor of this change should be ashamed of themselves. If you’re so offended by the name of a building, you are the one with the problem. If this name change happens, my donations to the university will stop and my season tickets of 44 years will be sold. Have a backbone and stand up to this liberal PC crap and continue the tradition of Yost.

  16. Elizabeth Bishop
    on May 24, 2021 at 4:54 pm

    I do not favor changing the names by which buildings have been known for many years unless there is a major and significant reason to do so. Most people do not want to remove names like Jefferson for streets, etc. since it would be very confusing and also expensive for those whose addresses were changed, especially if they are small businesses. Who is to say that a name we give a building now might not be seen as inappropriate for some reason in 50 to 100 years? I think there are many more important issues for the University to deal with at present. Leave the name as it is and remember that Yost did many positive things for the University and was typical of his period.

  17. Brent Heuser
    on May 24, 2021 at 5:11 pm

    I believe the name should be changed. I was not aware of the history associated with Mr. Yost presented in the report related to racism within the athletic department during his tenure as coach and AD. I have fond memories of UM hockey games at the Yost Field House, but they have become tainted and I believe the honorific naming of the building should be eliminated.
    Champaign, IL
    BS/83
    MS/87
    PhD/90

  18. Bridget Balint
    on May 24, 2021 at 5:14 pm

    I do not support the removal of any name from any university building.

    Let all the stories be told, let all the history be known;
    but he who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.

  19. Jennifer Zimmerman
    on May 24, 2021 at 5:14 pm

    I do not believe the name should be changed. I have never known an infallible human being, nor one whose opinions or life choices agreed 100% with every other person’s opinions and sensibilities–especially when those opinions and sensibilities are formed a century later. Coach Yost’s decision in one game (and before anyone digs up 100-year-old box scores….maybe more than one game) should not condemn him and his ancestors forever. In fact, he had Willis Ward on the team (something many other coaches and universities of the time did not do) and under Coach Yost’s tenure, Mr. Ward became a great story in Michigan Football lore.

    I believe we should study and share stories that in hindsight are seen as failure and shortcomings (and growth, where they occur), rather than erase people out of existence. These stories certainly show us how far we have come as a society. One of the things that is of very interesting note in this report is that the Michigan Daily itself was a primary proponent of naming the building. The students of the university did not view him as evil in his own time.

  20. James Achtenberg
    on May 24, 2021 at 5:17 pm

    Yost might have made a few mistakes, like everybody else – but his contribution to the University of Michigan through athletics and academics far outweighs any mistakes he made. The honor of having his name on the building is very well deserved. Leave it as it is!

  21. Robert Tamarelli
    on May 24, 2021 at 5:41 pm

    I vote for no name change. Yost was revered for decades, now because of norms of today we want to change his status, his legacy. Not fair. Tear the building down if you want to limit the memory and the stature of what he did for the school.

  22. Mohamad Beydoun
    on May 24, 2021 at 5:42 pm

    I certainly understand the climate we are in, but why don’t we focus on the future rather than looking back. This move just seems like an overreaction. Let’s spend the time, energy, and money on implementing real change to remove bigotry, racism, and bias in our culture.

  23. Stephen Brown
    on May 24, 2021 at 5:51 pm

    Yost’s name should not be removed. To apply todays standards retroactively to events, behaviors and actions 120 years ago is ridiculous. Fielding Yost provided many great things to this university. My Grandfather played for him and often told me on how he stood up his players, all players and tried to do what was best from them and the University at all times. While we cannot “forget” some events. we do not have to tarnish a legacy.

  24. Duane Keahl
    on May 24, 2021 at 6:04 pm

    As a two time alumnus and parent of one alumnae from the University, I am strongly opposed to removing Fielding Yost’s name from our hockey arena. While some of his actions were undoubtedly unsavory when viewed through the prism of today’s world, he also had many great accomplishments. There aren’t any perfect people on this planet and I suspect many of us have done things in our past we wish we could change. This appears to be yet another example of the cancel culture which is pervasive in our society. As much as they’d like to, you just can’t erase history. Better to learn from the misdeeds of others so they aren’t repeated.

  25. Denis Binder
    on May 24, 2021 at 6:42 pm

    The current cancel culture movement can excise history, but not change it. All it does is make us more ignorant.

  26. Thomas Shaffer
    on May 24, 2021 at 8:16 pm

    Many other colleges and organizations with racist foundations and former slave-owner leaders are changing their names. Washington and Lee University is one. To say that Yost’s contributions to the university community outweigh his overt racism is simply wrong. Let’s acknowledge the mistakes of the past. Yost Arena was the great Red Berenson’s home for many years, as a player as well as coach. “Berenson Arena” will be a good choice.

  27. Armen Terjimanian
    on May 24, 2021 at 8:34 pm

    After reviewing the report and processing the information and history, I believe it would be in the best interest of the university to retire Fielding H. Yost’s name from “Yost Ice Arena.” While Yost’s contributions to the university have been many and impactful, it’s fair to say the arena, as well as other sports venues and buildings, should perhaps be renamed as well. It just seems to me that a building should have a name that evokes the university institution without singling out one’s exploits or promoting a product or company (as we see with many corporately sponsored venues elsewhere). I do agree, however, if the arena name is changed that at least a plaque or display is made regarding the history of the building, Yost, and why the name was changed.

  28. G Scott Haislet
    on May 24, 2021 at 9:13 pm

    Like the dozens of respondents before me, I find this ridiculous yet troubling.

    If not for Fielding Yost and legions or Michigan heroes like him in two centuries gone by, you clowns in the administration, faculty, student organizations, or alumni association, would not have a forum to advance such nonsense.

    Where does this end? Meanwhile, you celebrate the violence brought or advocated by the likes of Bill Ayres and black lives matter.

    Stop already. The general public and many in the Michigan family are just sick of this crap.

  29. Patrick White
    on May 24, 2021 at 9:49 pm

    I believe the name should 100% NOT be changed.

  30. Frederick Schriever
    on May 24, 2021 at 9:56 pm

    Fielding Yost was one of the greatest coaches the University of Michigan ever had. He put this university on the map. I would whole heartedly prefer to have his name remain on one of the athletic buildings than to take it off because we don’t like him now for something he did or something he said. Or because we want to change the name on a building in order to add the name of a multimillionaire donor. It appears that this subject has come up because Yost was an aggressive, successful coach who ran his teams with the GOAL of winning. He played by the rules of the game of football and the character rules of the people of his time. Now some people want to judge him by the character traits we think people should have today. Back in Yost’s day, people spoke more openly about racial differences, and did not try as hard to say THE RIGHT THINGS. Times have changed and people have changed. Yost should be recognized for what he accomplished in his own time, not OUR TIME. Should UM return Alfred Taubman’s $30M, or Stephen Ross’ $400M donations if they had a racist act or comment in their past? Don’t make Yost a victim of the cancel culture.
    If we let people shame us into removing the names of people who deserve to be honored by having their name on a building, then who will be next? Bo Schembechler, Woody Hayes, Loyd Carr? Now one is perfect, Especially when they are evaluated by the rules that did not exist back when they were doing what made them successful.

  31. Derrick Golla
    on May 24, 2021 at 10:15 pm

    I support changing the name on the Ice Arena to Red Berenson’s name.

  32. Allan Stam
    on May 24, 2021 at 10:31 pm

    Renaming Yost field house would create a regrettable precedent. Unless we are comfortable having future generations judge us not by the moral and social standards in effect during our own lives, but by the standards of their lives, we should demure. Removing the names of those who today we judge to be of insufficient character also reduces the opportunities to learn about the complexity of the human experience, to learn how people are capable of great rights and successes, and at the same time great weakness. This has been the story of humanity. Wishing it away by removing it from the public eye is anti-educational. Why not fully contextualize the complexity of Yost’s life and choices with a detailed display of his successes and failures in the arena?

  33. Robert Reneker
    on May 24, 2021 at 11:00 pm

    Reconciling our past and deciding who is worthy of honor is never an easy task, figuring out what sins should deny a person honor despite their many accomplishments is a subjective decision and the line needs to be drawn and redrawn many times as our society re-evaluates the people of our past.

    It is my opinion that the line should not be drawn to exclude Fielding H Yost from the Honor of having our hockey arena bear his name. Yost spent 25 seasons as Michigan’s Football Coach, building Football at Michigan into a juggernaut and he also served as the Athletic Director of the University for nearly two decades and oversaw the construction of Michigan Stadium, the UofM Golf Course, and Yost Fieldhouse, which is today our beloved Hockey Arena. His leadership built so much of our Athletic Department and I feel that is worthy of honoring with the name of our hockey arena. Yost was a racist from a racist time, we do have to acknowledge this, but we are not honoring Yost the racist here, we are honoring Yost the Athletic Director, and I feel that is an important distinction to make.

    And to be Frank, I know that the most likely renaming of our hockey arena is probably going to be named after some donor to the athletic department, and frankly I would rather have our hockey arena named after a man who dedicated 40 years of his life to this University’s Athletic Department than whichever billionaire writes the biggest check.

  34. Mark Bankstahl
    on May 24, 2021 at 11:08 pm

    So, a group met in secret for over a year to try and assess a person’s beliefs from a hundred years ago. Then, the university creates a feedback forum where the Michigan community has two weeks to submit their opinion which carries no weight.

    It truly is a shame and I am saddened by this process. At the end of the day, we all know what will happen, the leadership will bow to the politics of the situation and remove Yost’ name,
    In reality, I am sure if we looked hard enough, we can find fault with every person who is named on a building.

  35. Kritika Versha
    on May 24, 2021 at 11:08 pm

    I do not support the removal of Yost’s name.

  36. Steven Kushner
    on May 25, 2021 at 12:10 am

    I do not support removing Yost’s name. If you do, you should remove all names. Remove the name of the state, derived from a word of Algonquin language origin, of which I am sure was decided upon over handshakes and tea between the French, British, and Native Americans. In Michigan lore, Yost was a great man. He was a greatly flawed man. This is representative of us all. Let’s not wipe away history as we choose, let’s acknowledge history and learn from it, embrace what was great and strive to improve what was flawed.

    I know I have many many skeletons in my closet, things that I wish I had done differently, things that my opinion changed on over my life. I hope to be remembered for the best of who I am, not for the least, but understood for it all. Yost should be treated the same.

  37. Heather Morelli
    on May 25, 2021 at 12:34 am

    Remove his name and instead, honor someone who is representative in their education, support and inspiration for ALL who have and will attend Michigan.

    To those who oppose removing his name, you have not convinced me that keeping his name is in the best interest of an institution that strives to be the Leaders and Best.

  38. Frank Watts
    on May 25, 2021 at 12:43 am

    Just as Andrew Calvetti poignantly said above mid-day yesterday, May 24th – This is ridiculous and I am not in favor of – and vehemently opposed to – removing someone’s name from a building based on a deep dive into their personal life that might not agree with the societal norms of today’s world. If this happens – I will stop ALL funding and support for my alma mater university’s general fund – period!! BUT I WILL continue my season tickets to all sports which I have, clearly still supporting the U-M Athletic Dept and the 900+ student athletes backed financially for their academic and athletic achievements, dreams, and goals pursued to set up their adult lives for prosperity and success. The U-M A.D. bears no blame no responsibility nor has any agenda regarding this kangaroo court move by a clearly “Central Committee” fevered by a du jour Cancel Culture run amok. This PAC – the President’s Advisory Committee (or, maybe Politburo Action Committee may be a more appropriate moniker…) should be immediately disbanded by President Schlissel… or, be given something more constructive / value-adding to do with its charter and time on behalf of the entire university, students, and alumni base. Lastly – at the end of this debacle and waste of time, ONLY the Board of Regents has the authority (as stated previously – Only the Board of Regents has the authority to remove an honorific building name.) to remove Yost’s name from an ice arena that was Yost Field House before that. And I will remind all that this generous, great and magnanimous man helped to raise the money to build not only Yost Arena, but Michigan Stadium as well. I pray that these thoughtful Regents will clearly see this as an example of a ridiculous “everything-is-racist” rampage for what it is – irreparably ruinous to the university’s culture & history!. Enough said, for my part….

  39. Yiyang Nan
    on May 25, 2021 at 2:59 am

    I do not support the removal of name. It is too leftism. We can not judge the historical figure by using today’s standard or even punished our community contributor by his personal life.

  40. Darryl Noel
    on May 25, 2021 at 7:42 am

    I am concerned when we try to rewrite history because of the changes in the political lens of the present. I do not believe that we should rename Yost Arena. We should learn as much as possible about the historical struggles that have lead us to where we are today.

    I am also very concerned about the current actions that were taken by well intended groups in Dearborn that tried to segregate meetings discussing the current events into a torn hall for People of Color and White People. Hearing of this made my skin crawl and my heart sad. Racism is wrong no matter who does it. I could only think of the next steps to have dorms, Universities or drinking fountains for People of Color only so they can feel safe. The fight to remove the color lens and see people for their hard work and merit over the past 60 years is being damaged by the current political lens that people are trying to force on society.

    Caring people should not put up with this and do what we all learned when we were young, “do onto others as you would have them do onto you.” The golden rule is still golden (Maze) but it is being tarnished by an attempt to view the entire world through a lens of color.

    The past is not perfect but neither is anybody on this earth. Learn from our failings and do better the next time is how we resolve the issues we have. Not by trying to change history because it makes us uncomfortable.

    Do not change the name of Yost Arena.

  41. Scott Siddall
    on May 25, 2021 at 8:07 am

    Stop with the “woke” bullshit. There is no systemic racism. If you keep up with this narrative, you’re only creating more of a divide between black and white. If you STOP talking about it, we all become humans, not “white”, “black”, some other label.

    Leave the Yost name!!!

  42. Nathan Adams
    on May 25, 2021 at 8:25 am

    I disagree that Yost should be judged against the standards of his time. He should instead be judged as an example of his time. The practice of honoring historical figures has nothing to do with fairness to the individuals themselves. It only serves our purposes, now.

    His time was overwhelmingly racist and he was an exemplar of that racism. We have no obligation to honor anyone from that time. Especially him.

  43. Brendan Byrne
    on May 25, 2021 at 8:41 am

    While Mr. Yost’s legacy is imperfect, revisionist history is more dangerous still and introduces a more insidious problem as we educate our future generations.

    By remembering the pain we’ve caused our fellow Americans, we and our children can fight to avoid causing such harm in the present and future. Efforts like this are truly just quick fixes that do tear down positives in legacies and give the appearance of having fixed inequity without having materially done so, which in itself is an injury to equality.

    I admire the suggestion to honor Mr. Berenson, and would do so in a separate venue. Further time expended on this distracts from our mission and is a waste.

  44. Robert Green
    on May 25, 2021 at 8:49 am

    I believe that the removal of the name Yost is another mistake by the University. The recent positions that the U has taken regarding the “woke” mentality has created much more problems and not solved anything. Myself and many of my colleagues are dismayed and unsupportive of the direction the university is taking. I find it extremely sad the U is on this downward spiral.

  45. Richard Bennett
    on May 25, 2021 at 9:31 am

    I totally disagree with this decision and frankly am embarrassed that my University is succumbing to the demands of the Woke cancel culture that has become so prevalent today. Measuring historical figures in the time frame in which they lived to today’s standards is a dangerous slope to be going down. Should this come to fruition, my financial allegiance to the university will be history as well as I refuse to support an institution that participates in this nonsense.

  46. Harpaul Bajwa
    on May 25, 2021 at 9:39 am

    As an alumnus, I am disappointed by the University resorting to dressing actions like removing a name from a building or statue to be seen as a progressive institution. Yost represented a part of the University of Michigan and that part would never be erased by this action. It would be far better if the University works on improving the fate of current generation of kids in the inner cities and rural areas left behind by a failing education system. Racism would never go away unless people left behind are lifted up.

  47. Peter Dunbar
    on May 25, 2021 at 9:41 am

    The issue has many hard and difficult cultural impacts, but after reading all I can find on the subject I believe a pure point in time is better than just accepting the past as is. Mr. Yost could have managed his responsibilities in a better manor but choice not to, even with lots of evidence at the time he was on the wrong side of the issue. The facility is a hockey arena, so let’s name it only the Red Berenson Arena. The past had been what it is, a mistake was made lets not adjust our opinion to make it more acceptable. Peter Dunbar

  48. Lesley Winograd
    on May 25, 2021 at 9:45 am

    While I can appreciate the positive intent behind this naming review, it is taking the University down a very dangerous and slippery slope. There is no doubt that Fielding H. Yost held racist beliefs. So did far too many of his contemporaries. But he lived in an era when this wasn’t even a blip on the radar of social conscience. If you proceed to remove his name from the ice arena, you will be on your way toward an obligation to remove every name from every building, and it won’t stop there.

    Gerald Ford, Harlan Hatcher, Harry Hutchins, Alexander Ruthven, Robben Fleming, and Joseph Bursley were proud members of the racist Michigamua “secret” society on campus. C.C. Little was president of the American Eugenics Society. There’s legitimate controversy concerning the entire land upon which the University was founded and how it was acquired. Are you prepared to take this renaming initiative all the way to its logical end? Will you recommend we become the University of Peshawbestown?

    Studying history is important so that we can learn from it and become better as individuals and as a society. But you cannot re-write history. And you cannot draw a perfect line in the sand to determine which history is good, which is bad, and which is bad enough to erase.

    The underlying objective of your study is noble. Taking Yost’s name off a building sets a dangerous precedent and does not really satisfy the good in your intent. Raise awareness of hatred, social injustice, and inequality; and strive to eradicate them going forward. Do not take down Yost’s name, and do not for a minute believe that doing so will make any difference in the world other than perhaps letting you pat yourself on the back in rationalization that you’ve actually done something.

  49. Fred Goldberg
    on May 25, 2021 at 9:53 am

    This seems very wrong to me.. Historical figures should not be judged by today’s norms. Human beings are creatures of their times, and should be viewed and have their legacies judged in relation to the social mores that prevailed when they lived. Fielding Yost was honored for his massive contribution to Michigan athletics. That contribution has not changed. Future donors and contributors to the University should not have to fear that their legacies will be erased because of something that seems mainstream now but contradicts some future societal taboo.

  50. Jacob Landuyt
    on May 25, 2021 at 10:16 am

    I am vehemently opposed to changing the name of Yost Ice Arena. My view is founded on three paths of reasoning.
    First, history is not written upon a chalkboard, there to be erased. The decision to sit Willis Ward was wrong. That decision the university, Yost, and Kipke made served as a catalyst for nationwide dialogue and eventual progress in terms of racial equality. Removing the name Yost reduces the spotlight on that moment in history. It is far more impactful to use history as a way to highlight progress, achievement, and inspire future generations than trying to sweep something under the proverbial “rug” by simply changing a name. The story of benching Willis Ward, Gerald Ford’s protest, and the University of Michigan’s role all deserve to be remembered and Fielding Yost is part of that story. Separately Fielding Yost made significant contributions to the university and athletic department. He was a monumental figure in the university’s history regardless of whether each point of significance was positive or not. His impact is worth remembering, good or bad.
    Second, mistakes and failures do not disqualify someone from contributing significantly in positive ways. Retroactively judging character 75 years after someone has died does not capture true motive or actual character. While the athletic department and Yost both garnered negative attention in the 1920’s and 30’s he was clearly a popular, influential figure throughout the university community. Most decisions can be called into question if examined in a certain light. I will use Willis Ward himself as an example. As the report indicates, Ward went to work for Harry Bennett after graduation, at Ford Motor Company. Harry Bennett was a corporate thug that personally used physical violence and intimidation on behalf of Henry Ford. The decision to work for someone like that could also be used to undermine the positive impact that Willis Ward had on the university and beyond. I use that example not to cast judgment on Willis Ward but to emphasize the injustice that can be served retroactively by historically critiquing individuals and their decisions.
    Thirdly, Yost Ice arena is more than a name. It is a place where students, athletes, and fans have come to compete and support basketball, track, and hockey athletes for generations. These athletes have come from all backgrounds and races. To remove a historical name from a historic facility ignores the relationship athletes and fans build with a building and it’s name.
    Do not remove the name Yost.

    Sincerely,
    Jacob Landuyt

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