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. Irwin Martin
    on May 31, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    As a 30+ year season ticket holder for hockey, I have always associated the name Yost with a great building and a great team. The Children of Yost always provided entertainment along with the game on the ice.

    Having now read who Yost was and his views on race, I can no longer feel good about this name. I sadly support the name change. And given the fact that Yost had nothing to do with hockey, its time to change the name of the building to match the name on the ice: Berenson Arena.

  2. Linda Lesnau
    on May 31, 2021 at 3:37 pm

    As an alumna of the University of Michigan, and a parent of an alumna, I am opposed to the removal of Yost’s name from the arena. I am particularly dismayed that time and money has been wasted to make changes that do not enhance the University’s academic or athletic distinction. Instead, the University is capitulating to the “cancel” demands of the “woke” few.
    The resources would have been better spent on promoting mutual respect, understanding and tolerance in this extremely divided environment.

  3. Colleen Stone
    on June 1, 2021 at 9:54 am

    I’ll not cover the same ground so many have already. Things that strike me as worthy of consideration when deciding on a path forward:

    Broadly, any solution ought to be rooted in guidelines applicable to all such honorific situations going forward. There is some merit to the “where does it end?” argument; not as a reason to take no action because of some potential slippery slope (which is why that argument is usually put forward), but because there will be many more such sticky scenarios to consider. Develop a cogent set of guidelines to deal with potentially problematic retro naming scenarios and apply those to naming honors going forward.

    To achieve a more holistic approach, we might ask:

    -Does honoring someone for specific contributions serve as tacit approval of any transgressions, whether or not we were aware of those transgressions and whether or not they were socially acceptable transgressions at a given time?

    -Is it possible to put transgressions in context and still honor the person for their specific contributions?

    It’s hard to defend sticking with names when it’s clear certain harmful actions were also attached to those names. No one is defined by the worst thing they’ve done, but the bar for honoring someone in such a prominent way must necessarily be higher.

    I’m sure folks smarter than me have already thought about the development implications here. This does not just touch on one statue or one plaque. All the more reason to have a clear set of guidelines for addressing situations like this one.

    Finally, this conversation is instructive for how to proceed going forward. Perhaps we can be innovative and find ways to honor people for contributions without slapping their names on buildings or erecting statues in their likenesses.

  4. Andrew Kortes
    on June 1, 2021 at 1:03 pm

    The name of the Yost Ice Arena should not be changed. Fielding H Yost was a visionary in Athletics and Athletics Administration. The Athletics Campus is as it is due to his plan and foresight. His name is on an Athletics’ building in honor of athletic accomplishments. This is completely appropriate and just.

    I am disappointed that my University is wasting its time and money considering this renaming farce. The whole process has been conducted in private for a year and then sprung on the University community at the last minute to suppress dissent. The University will not accept anonymous comments from its Alumni and supporters, but it appears from the recommendation that this whole idea to rename has come from a small amount of anonymous sources and not some great ground swell of concern from the general community. The committee immediately signals its bias in this whole process by choosing to highlight in the recommendation a quote from an anonymous alum that the University is choosing to put “one man’s contributions to football and to athletics above humanity.”

    The report does not present pros and cons to truly make an informed decision. It only provides cons to bolster its predetermined conclusion. The report relies heavily on selections from the work of Mr. John U. Bacon, but the authors of the report ignore portions of that work that don’t support their conclusion nor did they even bother to contact Mr. Bacon regarding his work even though he teaches at UM. That is intellectually dishonest and a world class University should be embarrassed by it.

    In conclusion, I choose to celebrate accomplishments. I reject the suggestion that we should erase people and their accomplishments because such accomplishments were achieved by a person who fails to meet some other person’s retroactively arbitrary standards of how people should act.

    UM 1991

  5. Jennifer Richards
    on June 1, 2021 at 4:29 pm

    I’m in favor of removing his name from the building. Unfortunately, Fielding Yost’s racism is the antithesis of what we stand for. I agree with the previous commentor who said: “To memorialize a person by naming one of Michigan’s beloved buildings after them, after they denied a Michigan student an opportunity based on their race stands in contrast to the values the University stands for.”

  6. Becky Ferrell
    on June 1, 2021 at 10:43 pm

    I absolutely do NOT support the removal of Yost’s name. The current tendency to scrub someone from history and render irrelevant their contributions over an action or words which were acceptable at the time is troubling. Frankly, I do not believe ANY of us could be examined by ALL of our actions and words during the course of our lifetime and not find sometime that would offend someone. Current attempts to atone for portions of history that are not acceptable in today’s emotionally charged cancel culture society does not change what happened. You do not learn from history by erasing it… you learn from it by examining it and determining how not to repeat it.

    Yost’s name should remain to commemorate his contributions. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

  7. Herbert Hayden
    on June 2, 2021 at 9:51 am

    who is next? how about a former university President? a coach who may or may not have used a racial slur that is well known and has another building named for him? are we not able to learn from the past without destroying our history good or bad?

  8. Michael Boudro
    on June 2, 2021 at 9:54 am

    There’s no place for honoring racists. Yes, he won a lot of football games and was our Athletic Director, but Yost, through his beliefs and actions, directly caused a multi-year gap in African-American participation in U-M Athletics.

    In my opinion, that outweighs any points his teams scored, any trophies won, any accolades earned.

    Fielding Yost caused long-lasting anguish and pain, and his name should be taken off the Ice Arena.

  9. Eric Donarski
    on June 2, 2021 at 9:56 am

    As a recent alum (2020) and as part of the Children of Yost, I OPPOSE the removal of the name.

    All men and women are flawed, some moreso than others, and myself included. This does not mean that we should sponge flawed people from history or conveniently forget the good works they have done. Yost was one of the first coaches to recruit Jewish people for competitive collegiate sport, for example.

    Do not remove the name, continuing this trend will see the removal of all of our names from registries and honorifics as well in the decades and centuries to come.

  10. Luann Davis
    on June 2, 2021 at 10:30 am

    I think this “reevaluation of history” that is currently in vogue is totally ridiculous. There is no way to compare 100 years ago to the standards that someone has decided is acceptable today.
    It is important to learn from someone’s life- good and bad. No one is perfect. Leave Yost as it is.
    I feel the University has gone off the deep end of PC craziness.

  11. Cynthia Wilkinson
    on June 2, 2021 at 10:35 am

    The history of the building, the wins, the losses, the fights, the crowds, and the songs will remain even if the name is changed. The name is not what gives the arena its character. We all, I hope, strive to be better people as we learn and grow, and sometimes that means changing things that have been the same for a long time. Perhaps the new name should not rely on the honor or money of one fallible human being but the spirit of the university as a whole.

  12. Stephen Chapman
    on June 2, 2021 at 10:36 am

    Fielding Yost grew up and lived in a different time in the world, and we can only speculate as to the social pressures and historical perspectives he experienced that made him into the person that he became. Certainly by today’s standards his position and perspective on race was hurtful, but once again it was a different time with a different set of pressures that likely guided many of his decisions. With this move to remove his name he is being negatively judged by today’s societal perspectives on primarily that one aspect of his life while it seems we are close to dismissing much of any perspectives of the pressures and understandings he may have faced at the time he was making those decisions. Given the significant positive historical accomplishments he made for many years to both the University of Michigan and to college football in general, it seems to me to be both a petty and somewhat pandering decision to suggest that his name be “cancelled” from Yost Ice Arena.
    If the University feels it is appropriate to “cancel” Yost’s name based primarily on today’s standards, then perhaps it is just as easy for me to “cancel” my contributions to support the UofM in the future.
    Please do NOT remove his name from the Yost Ice Arena

  13. Gregory Mills
    on June 2, 2021 at 10:47 am

    Yost Arena needs to be left named as is, but that is apparently not going to happen no matter what I have to say. Why do I believe it should remain Yost Arena? Because what you are doing by changing it is passing judgement upon and of a time and man, who is being damned by a standard that never existed when that person was alive. As a student I never had a clue about any racist behavior of Yost. So why is it so important to anyone now to remake racism an image as the only thing he ever did or cared about and relegate him to obscurity now for something that was actually not just acceptable but literally honorable among his peers and even encouraged at the time this man lived and died. This charade here is pandering, it is ignorant, and it is immoral to judge any person today by a standard that did not exist when he/she lived and breathed and walked upon this Earth. Shame on you, and shame on those who wish to make this a “thing” out of personal attitude and arrogance.

  14. Christopher Godwin
    on June 2, 2021 at 10:49 am

    I think that Coleen Stone’s comments above are wise and should be seriously considered.

    If we are to go down this dicey path, I believe that there have to be concrete, unbiased and impartial criteria for removing names from buildings, etc., that are clearly spelled-out in writing and applied to all buildings equally and fairly. Additionally, those criteria must be easily accessible to the public at-large for maximum transparency. I may be missing something, but to date I have yet to see what criteria the President’s Advisory Committee used to come to their decision regarding this; having this information would be very helpful for those of us who are concerned about the precedent of removing the Yost name from campus .

    I personally am not in favor of removing the Yost name from the university. For good or not, Yost is a part of the university’s history and he made many positive contributions to collegiate athletics. Like others, I think it’s unwise to judge historical figures from the past by contemporary standards. There are other ways to address Yost’s troubling history – for example, putting up a plaque that explains that history in context seems like a more prudent approach, which would also provide an ongoing “teachable moment” re. the troubling history of racism at the U of M and our society in general.

  15. Jeffrey Hauptman
    on June 2, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    Yost put Michigan football on the map. His point-a-minute teams are what helped Michigan become the most winningest football team in the country. And through the strength of the football program he built, he created not only the largest stadium in the country, but the majority of our athletic campus. Michigan’s athletic program is what it is today thanks to Fielding Yost. For years, Michigan’s football program funded all of the other college sports on campus, including basketball. According to Robert Soderstrom, in his book the big house, “Is there an outstanding debt of gratitude old Fielding H. Yost that generations of Wolverines can never repay? Unquestionably.”

    Should Willard Ward have been benched at the request of George Tech? Of course not. That was clearly a mistake on Yost’s part. We would never tolerate that today. Or even decades ago. But Ann Arbor today is not what it was in 1934. Back then, no one would even contemplate painting The Rock. Similar situations? Of course not, but one example of how common tolerances have evolved. And while we don’t agree with many of the behaviors of that time, that doesn’t make Yost a racist. Most reasonably, he was simply not what would have been considered progressive. He was a southerner in northern town. A particularly progressive northern town. Judging him by today’s standards is unreasonable, and Michigan owes a great deal to Yost.

  16. Mark Kennedy
    on June 2, 2021 at 12:16 pm

    I feel that removing Yost’s name would be an over-correction. Sometimes this is certainly warranted, for example Confederate monuments that glorify treason, slavery, and racism. I don’t blame Columbus for indirect effects of his voyages, but now I better understand his and his crew’s direct actions and don’t celebrate him. On the other hand I don’t dismiss everything our Founding Fathers said or did because some were slaveholders. Leave/put that asterisk next to their names so everyone understands the full context, the good and the bad. I was disappointed to learn these things about Yost, but I don’t believe it rises to the level of wiping his name from the building.

    I’m fine with judging these things in a modern context, because the name is there now, he’s long gone, and it conveys messages to us, now. It tells us to go learn about the person for whom it’s named. Keep Yost’s name there, and include the whole story. All people are flawed, it’s a matter of degree. We have a convenient “out” in this case if we want to go with Red’s name. Or we avoid the whole mess by taking all people’s names off all buildings and especially end the vanity naming rights.

  17. Brian Burak
    on June 2, 2021 at 12:29 pm

    – My great-grandfather played for Yost on those point-a-minute teams and I think we should change the name.
    – This is not judging the past by today’s standards. If you read the whole, excellently sourced, masterfully crafted analysis, we are judging Yost by at least some of the standards of his day. The standards of the day to which those opposed to the name change are referring are the standards of the dominant, racist majority of the time. That white men ignored the protestations of Ward, his teammates, students, staff, alumni and community members is more than sufficient to judge his actions by “the standards of his day”. I am embarrassed and ashamed that Ward and other black students, athletes and presumably employees were subjected to such obvious, blatant discrimination.
    – Also, let’s not overlook the fact that students protesting an objectively racist decision, were investigated and expelled through Yost’s efforts.
    – The arguments that someone is just a human being and his faults are real but who are we to judge, or that the good outweighs the bad, or the whataboutism that if we change this then we have to change other names or that no one is blameless are sad, tired, and utterly without merit. I wouldn’t give credit if they were written in a persuasive essay by my high school students and the University should not lend them any credence either. We are judging the actions of one man based on the body of evidence. If you after reading it, and you better read the whole of the two documents, and decide that the building should not be renamed, I disagree, but that’s defensible. If you throw up whataboutism and strawmen arguments then you disqualify your position.
    – Willis Ward was a case study of a pattern of larger racist behavior. Under Yost, Michigan had ample opportunities to be the leaders and best in integration and support for black students and athletes. Instead, we failed. Repeatedly. Hell, even Ohio State did better than us on this issue, and that alone should get under the skin of any die-hard Michigan fan. But skin is what was at issue then and apparently is still today. That selfish white alums feel that this is somehow an affront to them and their whiteness infuriates me. The fact that public comments on this website imply that since Yost isn’t bothering anyone now then we should let bygones be bygones just further demonstrates why we need to change the name. Your privilege is clear when you can say that this does not affect anyone, when what you really mean is it is not affecting YOU.
    – I would encourage the University to change more names, anger more modern-day racists, and focus their future naming efforts exclusively on overlooked, underrepresented groups until those groups achieve a semblance of balance. Let the weak scream that they’re losing their heritage. Let them grumble and post their fetid complaints. Let them threaten to remove their support, their money, their advocacy. We don’t want them. We don’t need them. If the vision for what they want the University to be is beholden to archaic norms, decorum, and the trappings of white power and privilege then good riddance. Instead, we must lead. Let us be the best. Let us earn the “Hails” of future generations who will recognize that we took steps to correct injustices and take the side of decency and right. The season ticket wait list is pretty long. We’ll be fine if you feel the need to cancel.
    – Oh, and spare me that this is erasing history or cancel culture. Yost’s name being on a building does virtually nothing to teach anyone about history. Maybe a very curious person googles the name of the person on the building, but odds are they won’t. If anything, removing Yost’s name is forcing people to learn about and grapple with the history that enshrining his name on the building failed to do. And if you’re worried that if we change this building’s name then we may have to change others, yeah, that may happen. Frankly, naming buildings after people is dumb anyway. It does nothing to teach us about history, it tries to permanently enshrine a concept of a person that will likely change, and doesn’t really serve a beneficial purpose to the university community other than maybe rewarding large money donors.
    – TL:DR – remove the name

  18. Kimberly Greer
    on June 2, 2021 at 12:43 pm

    I do not agree with renaming Yost Arena.

  19. Robert Merchant
    on June 2, 2021 at 1:30 pm

    I also disagree with the proposal to change the name of Yost Field House. History exists to be remembered. We can add notations to history to confirm our current understandings of events of the time, but the reality of Yost’s contributions to U of M history should not be sullied in retrospection. Reinterpretations will happen and info can be made available in appropriate ways, but changing titles today does not right apparent slights of the past. Thing exist as they are and what we can change in the future, not by rewriting the past.

  20. John Dann
    on June 2, 2021 at 1:35 pm

    I am a retired member of the History Dept. with a long familiarity and interest in UM history. I knew people who knew Fielding Yost. He was a tough guy, more from the rougher tradition vs. the “Christian athlete” tradition of football and presumably did have some of the racial attitudes common in his era. Despite that, he made a huge contribution to the Michigan athletic tradition, not only in football but many other sports as well. He certainly does deserve to be recognized with his name on one of the iconic buildings he built–whether or not he would meet the standards of today’s more enlightened attitudes on race. Why not have an historical marker within the building, describing the man’s shortcomings as well as his virtues? I have never met anyone who does not have both!

  21. Adam Eickmeyer
    on June 2, 2021 at 4:21 pm

    I loved hockey games throughout my 9 years at Michigan, and had no idea that this is the legacy of the man for whom the arena is named. I thank those who did the laborious work of sifting through historical documents and writing the report. While Yost may have done great things, he knowingly perpetuated racist ideals that negatively impacted our university and our students. I fully support divorcing his name from our hockey arena as well as providing some type of educational content about the topic so future generations can learn from the mistakes of the past.

  22. Theodore Bendall
    on June 2, 2021 at 4:28 pm

    To assist in placing my feedback in context, please know that I earned a Michigan degree in 1964. Since then I have mostly admired my University’s efforts and successes in the vanguard that seeks to better our society and world. I have donated for several years to the University, including a scholarship focusing on providing aid to Black applicants admitted to Michigan’s Law School.

    The Advisory Committee’s 36 page report lays out a vivid picture of elements of racism over decades, including those in which Mr. Yost was a part of the University. It recites both damning and mitigating facts addressing the issue at hand, while seeming to focus heavily on Black and African American advocacy positions when presenting historical data in what appears to be, notwithstanding protests to the contrary, imposing contemporary standards to deplore certain events recited, while minimizing other events which would weigh against the Committee’s recommendation.

    As stated in the recommendation: “The Administration of the University as a whole failed to intervene in most of Yost’s decision-making and failed themselves to uphold the goal of racial equality elsewhere on campus”.

    Who among us would have his/her/their cumulative life’s work reduced to a particular failure to step out in front of then current societal evolution to lead a fight for racial justice in the face of the significant ignorance, hostility and majority apathy (including the apathy of the individual’s employer as reflected by the University’s administration (see above quote).

    I do not believe that it is warranted to remove the name from the ice arena. I understand and support actions, which are found by others with a better data base than I possess, to be appropriate to present and publicize an accurate historical record of the big picture, including shortcomings of Mr. Yost and my University, as those shortcomings have become apparent by the passage of time.

    To do as the Committee recommends would not be fair to Mr. Yost and would fail to bring to light the University’s complicity in the wrongdoing at the time it occurred.

  23. David Crittenden
    on June 2, 2021 at 5:54 pm

    In the matter of ‘President’s Advisory Committee on University History v. Yost’:

    I vehemently oppose the ‘preliminary-but-nevertheless-unanimous’ recommendation of a hand-picked group of ‘University Historians’, who outlived UM’s Bicentennial and who took a year to write a short historical narrative that might struggle to muster a B- in a 100-level course rooted in the Pedagogy of History.

    I’m not sure how one learns from the past if it is erased. To withdraw an honorific is not honorable in my view; certainly in the case of a trend-setting facility whose footings were laid by the person whose name has been on the building for almost a century … at the insistence of the then-Student Body. Metaphorically, it’s like moving the goal posts. Should the name of Disneyland be changed because Song of the South is now deemed offensive?
    It seems that a group of eight esteemed people with credentials in the investigation of History – or at least some curiosity about events that occurred before yesterday – were able to reach a unanimous decision without dissent. How is a group concurrently-tasked to unearth the past, and then opine, based on the application of principles that they themselves defined for the process? What does that say? Res ipsa loquitur.

    I am an executive in a global company that embeds diversity, equity and inclusion objectives in its core values and initiatives. As a volunteer leader in a ministry in Southwest Detroit, I have “skin in the game” in connection with helping people Rise. I appreciate reading the passionate, thoughtful, respectfully-written responses from members of the University Family. I am not “surprised” by this conversation and the different perspectives, values and judgments that are expressed. I take some comfort seeing that reasonable people can still reasonably disagree in a civilized, literate way.

    The average of randomly-selected samples of the submitted pubic responses suggests 64% of respondents DISAPPROVE of the PACOUH’s ‘Preliminary Summary Recommendation’. Only 26% support, with 10% providing thoughtful, but equivocal essays. Of five samples of 20 responses each, DISAPPROVAL ranged from 55 – 75%, or about 2-1/2 times the amount of approvals. Could there be ‘selection bias’ based on who is responding? Yes, absolutely! But perhaps not as much as reflected in the PACOUH’s self-fulfilling analysis.

    I pray the Regents give fair, equitable consideration to the feedback received, considering PACOUH has ‘polled the audience’ but may not personally agree with the underwhelming support for their proposed action. As an alumnus who has seen almost every Wolverine game in Michigan Stadium across four decades, marched in the MMB for four years, graduated from now-Ross with a BBA and MBA, and as a Life Member of the Alumni Association with an alumna daughter soon finishing at the Dental School, I would be heart-broken to discontinue support for my alma mater because of a misguided show of R-E-S-P-E-C-T that hopes to build an enlightened future by pretending the past didn’t happen.

    Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.

    Source: The Northwest Ordinance of 1787, based on a draft by Thomas Jefferson.

  24. Nathan Smith
    on June 2, 2021 at 6:36 pm

    I believe that the University of Michigan’s ice arena should continue to be named after Fielding H. Yost.
    After reading the report from the committee, it appears to me that a conclusion was reached before any research was ever done. The report goes into detail about different departments of the University of Michigan, and American society as a whole, that either explicitly or implicitly supported segregation at the turn of the last century, and then proceeds to conclude that Yost bears the responsibility of it all. The report identifies that the decision to schedule Georgia Tech in 1934, as well as many of the decisions around the athletic department, were approved by the Board in Control and/or the University President. Yet somehow, Yost bears all the responsibility here. This conclusion does not logically follow the statements in the report. The University, and America, was rampant with racism at the turn of the last century, there is no doubt about that. But to conclude that one man is solely responsible for the actions at the University is flawed. Instead, this is clearly an attempt to make the virtue signal its brightest by attacking the most prominent name in the history of the University’s athletic department. A man who created the very concept of the fieldhouse, which now bears his name. Without Fielding H. Yost, the University of Michigan athletic department would not be what it is today. It would not have been able to support the hundreds of thousands of student athletes of all races that have competed for the University in the past and compete for the University today.
    It is wrong to erase all the good that Yost did for the university in his time, and for the foundation that he laid to be built upon by those who followed. Hindsight allows us to look back and judge historical figures for not doing “enough” in their time. However, even today, society is not perfect, but we continue to strive to improve for the next generation. If we have not perfected society even now, how can we expect previous generations to have done better? Society and the human race continue to evolve and progress, but such evolution and progress does not happen overnight; it takes time. We need to learn from the mistakes of the past, not erase them. For, as the old saying goes, those who forget history are bound to repeat it. We can honor Fielding H. Yost for all the good that he did for University of Michigan athletics while learning from his mistakes so as to not repeat them. Removing Yost’s name from the ice arena does nothing to change the past or solve any problems today. It merely allows some to think that they have made their mark on history by removing someone else’s. Yost’s name should stay on the ice arena because he did great things for the University of Michigan and he made mistakes. Remembering his achievements also allows us to remember and learn from his mistakes. To be a great leader one does not have to be perfect. A great leader learns from his mistakes and strives to be the best.
    The committee suggests a morality test to decide who to bestow honorific naming rights. This is a ridiculous standard. What is deemed immoral or moral is highly dependent on personal beliefs. Who would determine whether a person had the right morals? Would the morals of the persons life time govern the decision or today’s morals? Would this moral test also apply to donors, or would that be ignored in favor of the all-mighty dollar? Such a standard is entirely subjective and completely vague. It establishes a guaranteed out for this committee to select or reject any person they desire for any reason at all and simply sight morals (pretty good strategy to ensure this committee remains necessary). No one is perfect. Judging someone else without having lived in their shoes and experienced their life and deeming them to lack the morals that you require is incredibly arrogant.
    Now, I would like to turn attention to the report itself. For the committee to have reached a unanimous decision, I would have expected the report to include fewer statements of “probably,” “likely,” “no evidence,” and overall conclusions that are contradicted by the report itself. This report read as if a conclusion was made before any research was done. Throughout the report, multiple inferences are made by the committee, and each time the inference is negative. Never once does the committee consider that other factors may have played a role in decisions throughout Yost’s tenure at the University. I will go through a few flaws in the report below, and I will be making some assumptions along the way. While I realize that I am criticizing the report for making assumptions, I hope the committee can appreciate that I did not have one year to review this report and conduct my own research.
    As I noted above, the report concludes that Yost bears responsibility for all the actions described within the report. First, the report concludes that there was a color line in the Michigan athletic department. However, the report says that either Yost established it, or failed to change it. Well, those are two very different things. Could it be that Yost was unable to change the color line because the Board of Control and/or the University President wouldn’t allow it? Or perhaps the fact that the number of African American students enrolled in the University was miniscule in comparison to the number of Caucasian students? The report states that in 1934 there were 10,000 students enrolled at the University and 61 were African American. If we assume that the enrollment in 1934 is the most diverse (up to that point) since Yost’s arrival, then, from a basic statistical view, it doesn’t seem that far-fetched that the number of African Americans on the football team would be low. In fact, the enrollment numbers in 1934 suggest that less than 1% of all male students made the football team, which suggests less than one African American could conceivably be on the team simply based on the enrollment discrepancies between African American students and non-African American students. Now the report alleges that Yost had a reputation of supporting a rumored color line. Who started this reputation? Was it a school competing with Yost for recruits? A disgruntled ex-employee? A former prospective student-athlete who was deemed to not merit a spot on the team based on skill level alone? The report clearly identifies that Yost had a policy and enforced that policy as an athletic director, that the best players should play on the athletic teams at the University of Michigan. Yet, the report weighs a known and stated policy as being less credible than a rumor.
    Further, the report notes on multiple occasions that Yost and the University never replied to Georgia Tech agreeing to the request to sit Willis Ward. However, the report determines that an agreement was reached with Georgia Tech. How? When? By whom? What was the agreement? The fact that Willis Ward did not play and Georgia Tech then did not play their star player is not, in and of itself, definitive proof that such an agreement was reached. Perhaps Georgia Tech decided to bench their player after seeing that Willis Ward was not at the stadium, thinking that an agreement was reached, when in fact no agreement was made. Since the report can’t point to a specific decision, but only an outcome, that raises questions as to what directed the outcome. Perhaps the decision to bench Willis Ward was for his safety. Could Yost and the University have not feared that playing Willis would have risked Georgia Tech players attempting to intentionally injure Willis? Now, I’m not saying that this would have made the decision to bench Willis Ward the correct one (instead one would hope that if this was the rationale behind the decision that the University make Ward aware of their concerns and allow him to make the choice he felt best for himself), but again I am simply pointing out possibilities that the report failed to consider given that the report admits that Yost never replied agreeing to bench Willis Ward.
    Moreover, the report blames Yost for even scheduling the Georgia Tech game to begin with because he knew of GT’s stance on playing against African American players. However, again the game was approved by the Board in Control and the University President. Further, the report notes that Yost was out of options on other possible teams to schedule. In the midst of the great depression, the University undoubtedly needed revenue from the football team to continue to support the athletic department (as is still the case today). So perhaps the game was scheduled to make sure revenue was available for the entire athletic department, and in doing so the University may have hoped that GT would decide to play anyways because they too were suffering from the results of the great depression. Simply considering the decision to schedule GT in a vacuum makes it easy to determine that it was the wrong thing to do. However, there were a lot of additional factors that the University and Yost needed to weigh in making this decision. And again with hindsight being 20-20, they clearly made the wrong choice. The committee states that Yost needs to be held accountable for this decision and the benching of Willis Ward that followed. However, the report specifically states that Yost and the University received widespread negative PR for this decision. That is how Yost and the University were held accountable. Taking his name off of the ice arena does not hold him accountable now. The man has been dead for 75 yrs. Nothing done now will hold him accountable. Again, this is merely an attempt for some to make their mark on history by erasing Yost’s name from the ice arena.
    The report also notes that lessons from the Willis Ward incident were learned elsewhere, but not at Michigan. Yet again, the report states the fact that Yost did not schedule a game against another southern school. How is this not itself proof of a lesson learned? Yost acknowledged that what happened in the GT game was a bigger issue that he realized and he didn’t repeat that mistake. That shows his growth as a human and a leader. The report mentions, but tries to gloss over, multiple instances showing that Yost had, as stated by Willis Ward, “flip-flopped” and supported the African American community. Yost defended Ward when a Chicago hotel initially refused to allow Ward to lodge there with the team. He assisted with fundraising for a Community Center in Ann Arbor and he supported the recruitment and participation of African American students to multiple athletic teams at the University. The committee refuses to accept these as signs that Yost was learning from past mistakes and growing as a human.
    Finally, the committee failed to reach out to numerous scholars that have done extensive research on Yost. Instead the committee merely relied on their published works, without considering that the scholars may have additional perspectives that could help formulate a conclusion and a recommendation. To recommend the removal of the most prominent name in Michigan athletics from the building he created deserved a less biased review.
    There are other issues with the report that I simply do not have the time to address, but they fall along the same lines of spinning the narrative to fit the conclusion reached by the committee. Attempting to fill in the gaps of this report by simply attributing every decision to hinge on the race of the parties involved is lazy and irresponsible. The University should expect better of such a committee.
    Nothing in here should be interpreted as suggesting that the benching of Willis Ward was the correct decision, regardless of what factors were or were not considered. My point is to highlight the significant flaws within the report and the committee’s apparent attempt to justify its conclusion by viewing the entire situation through only the lens of racism without considering other factors that may have made the situation more complicated for Yost, Ward, and the University. Assuming that all the gaps in the historical analysis presented by the committee can be filled by racism alone appears to be an attempt by the committee to shield its report from criticism. However, the fact that these gaps exist suggest at best that the committee did not perform a thorough and unbiased review of the benching of Willis Ward, but instead selected only the facts that fit the desired narrative. Just as it was wrong to bench Willis Ward, it is wrong to remove Yost’s name from the ice arena and define Yost solely based on this mistake while ignoring all the great things he did for the University of Michigan and the evidence that shows he learned from his mistake and grew as a person.

    DO NOT remove Yost’s name from the ice arena.

    Go Blue!

  25. Bridget Beattie-Smith
    on June 2, 2021 at 6:44 pm

    As a two time alumna and former faculty member of the University of Michigan, I strongly advise against the removal of Yost’s name.

    Let us continue to honor the Leaders and Best, one of which is, and forever will be, Fielding Yost.

    Go Blue!

  26. Melissa Demos
    on June 3, 2021 at 11:19 am

    There are skeletons in everyone’s closet. Leave the name as it is.

  27. Steven Chang
    on June 3, 2021 at 1:13 pm

    After reading the analysis published by the committee and doing additional research, I agree whole-heartedly with the Committee’s unanimous decision to remove Fielding Yost’s name. I also ask the Board of Regents to support this decision.

    It is true that Yost made significant contributions to Michigan Athletics. But he was clearly in the wrong as a racist. In his powerful position for so many years, he did nothing and in fact, punished others who stood up to racism. Yost’s beliefs and values do not represent the University of Michigan community. It was wrong back then; it is wrong Today. There should be no debate on this.

    This great institution, our University of Michigan, is more than just Athletics. The University of Michigan is bigger than any single person. We, as a community, should fully embrace the strength of our diversity and be inclusive of all. As noted by several people, no single human is perfect. But we should strive to be better. Together, we should aim for the best in everything we do.

    As far the new name of the building, I am confident that there is no shortage of qualified candidates. After all, this is the University of Michigan, the leaders and the best. It’s about time that we focus on righting a wrong and becoming a better version tomorrow, than who are today.

    Thank you.

  28. Robert Ike
    on June 3, 2021 at 8:07 pm

    I have read the committee’s materials, as well as some things I found on my own, and in none of them do I see portrayed the racist ogre Fielding Yost now at risk of having his name stripped from the first building he erected as athletic director. Indeed, I see instead a man who might be considered a racial champion for his times. Sure, his teams for two decades were lilly white, but he was recruiting from the student body, not nationwide as is the custom today. With fewer than 100 African-Americans in each class – and whose fault is that? – what are the chances he’ll pick one for the football team? No other Western Conference teams at the time had black players. As AD, he began to see the appeal of the highly talented African-American athlete. He was for whatever would bring Michigan greater glory. Talented trackster William Dehart Hubbard came on board Yost’s first year and eventually became the first African-American to earn Olympic Gold. In Hubbard’s first year on the team, headed to Chicago to compete in Big 10s, the Palmer House, where Michigan had stayed the previous 10 years, said it could not accommodate a colored athlete. Yost told them he’d look elsewhere, and they capitulated. Are these the actions of an inveterate racist? The next year, Rudolph Ash joined the baseball team, their first black player since 1883. Ash went onto a stellar career at Michigan and in the Negro leagues. Subsequently 4 more trackmen, and two tennis players joined. And Willis Ward, whose recruitment was pushed by some high level donors, but never actively opposed by Yost. The entire Georgia Tech ruse could be construed as Yost seeking his Jackie Robinson moment. GT was only a mediocre team at the time, so why play them? A victory does little to add to the glory of Michigan. Yet if they were to face up to, and overcome, their view of segregated football, what a coup that would be! Yost didn’t account for the degree of obstreperousness on the part of GT. The compromise necessary for the game to go on was awkward, but I don’t see the hands of Yost on it. The hands I see are those of Harry Bennet, Henry Ford’s enforcer, who sat Ward down and asked him to consider who his friends were. Shortly after that meeting, Ward asked Kipke to pull him from the game. Ward had employment at Ford for life, should he choose. Ward did fall apart after that game, but I submit it was his own doing, as he confronted the compromise he had made. Yost had other bona fides. He was the first coach to allow Jewish athletes to participate. It is said that his actions as athletic director did more for women’s sports than anything before title IX. His love for Michigan athletes extended far beyond the playing field, as he saw participation in sports as important to the health of the entire student body and his efforts as AD, such as construction on the intramural building, show this.

    No member of our athletic department, in its long and storied tradition, has done more for our University than Fielding H. Yost. He deserves only much deserved honor, not the ignominy of
    cancellation.

  29. Sharon Landers
    on June 4, 2021 at 9:53 am

    I think the name YOST should stay it is part of A2 history just like all the other things from histories that have been removed/replaced around the world.

  30. Geoffrey Chiles
    on June 4, 2021 at 10:40 am

    Fielding H. Yost is a giant of a human being, man, coach, and his contributions to the very fabric of the University community cannot be overstated. He led for, or built, the most iconic buildings on South Campus and his legacy is one of care, guidance, vigor, and love for the University of Michigan. That being the case, his is a reputation fraught with difficulties to rectify his professional service and personal nature. It’s true that in the 19th- and early-20th centuries, the University itself has a history of racism, discrimination, and despicable behavior unbecoming of this institution. Accounts from African-Americans enrolling at the University in that time period corroborate this. As we know, our entire nation shares this deplorable history. Yes, Yost was racist in his early life, and yes, he kowtowed to the whims of Georgia Tech in 1934 not allowing Willis Ward to compete. But he also has a beneficent streak of being more open, compassionate, and even encouraging of athletes to enroll in, and compete at, U-M who did not share his skin color as he got older. Surely, his morality and attitudes on racism changed during his time at U-M as a coach, athletic director, and retiree. That should be taken into account.

    Leave Yost’s name on the ice arena where it belongs, and let’s operate with critical thinking, of which I was taught as a student, and not critical theory. Do not bow to progressivism and all its’ vicissitudes.

    Go Blue!

    Geoffrey Chiles, ’09

  31. Marcy Donelson
    on June 4, 2021 at 10:40 am

    I’m surprised this is even up for discussion. Remove the name as soon as possible.

  32. Dirk Hoag
    on June 4, 2021 at 10:42 am

    All too often people react to such calls out of defensiveness, but the case couldn’t be more clear here.

    After reading the report I am fully in favor of removing Yost’s name from the arena. His racist conduct wasn’t merely an aspect of his personal life, it played a part in his official capacity as a leading figure at the university, and deliberately held back the cause of equality and equity for all.

    There are many potentially deserving figures to have that building named after, starting with Red Berenson of course. I appreciate this commission’s work in reviewing this issue and making the recommendation.

  33. Philip Ventura
    on June 4, 2021 at 10:43 am

    I believe that Yost’s name should not be removed. History must not be erased. Censorship is not acceptable.

  34. Roger Lauricella
    on June 4, 2021 at 10:45 am

    If you all are going to remove Yost’s name from the Arena why don’t you go back and scrub all records of him ever existing. Seems appropriate since you have evaluated that he was a “racist” and therefore a bad man. Does not the modern “woke” handbook require complete elimination and recognition including scrubbing the names of any past “racists”? With that in mind, you might need to go to Forest Hills Cemetery and dig up Mr. Yost and cast his remains into the unknown. Let’s go even further you all should stop accepting $1 dollar bills in any format since “George Washington” owned slaves.

  35. Marc Meadows
    on June 4, 2021 at 10:56 am

    I do not want to see the honor bestowed to Fielding H. Yost in naming Yost Arena changed, anymore than I would consider changing Nero’s Colosseum in Rome. I do not believe in altering or rewriting history.

  36. Joanna Connelly
    on June 4, 2021 at 11:11 am

    I support the name change. In my years at U of M, I spent many nights watching the ice hockey team and playing broomball at Yost. I feel that anyone who claims a name change indicates we’re judging a historical figure by today’s standards or erasing history by doing so did not read the committee’s recommendation or historical analysis. They recommend a broader recognition of Yost’s legacy on campus, one that includes his faults (which WERE racist, even in HIS time).

  37. John McCullough
    on June 4, 2021 at 11:19 am

    I strongly support the decision to remove Yost’s name from this building.

    It is clear from the historical record that Yost did not merely ignore or passively acquiesce in the racism of the times. Rather, he was an active accomplice and promoter of racism, and worked against the developing mores of his time to maintain white supremacy while others were working to overcome it.

    It is long past time to remove him from a place of honor on campus. I support this decision and the idea of posting an information placard in the building explaining the decision.

  38. Randall Sturm
    on June 4, 2021 at 11:39 am

    I do not support the idea of changing the name, or of applying the “woke” philosophy of the day against figures from history who will be forgotten in time as a result. If the University chooses to continue on the path of safe spaces and coloring books to protect the fragile rather than following the history of the institution as a place of open and constructive dialog, then I intend to continue to donating to causes other than those espoused by the university I once was proud of.

  39. Frederick Askari
    on June 4, 2021 at 11:46 am

    Can’t we all get along and find a middle ground here? Is there no compromise or does this have to be such a polarizing issue? Perhaps rename the arena YOHST arena and drop fielding?

  40. John Fornoff
    on June 4, 2021 at 11:50 am

    No one earns the right to have a building named after them for eternity; the University Community gets to decide who gets to receive that honor and for how long. If we decide that honoring such a person no longer fits in with our stated values, then let’s change it. Changing the name of the arena will not erase the accomplishments achieved or the fond memories that were made there. We should learn from history, not be held hostage by it.

  41. Gerald Conover
    on June 4, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    It is sad that our University held racist attitudes early in the 20th century. Fielding Yost’s ideas are repugnant now, but in the 1930s they were accepted by mainstream society. Our military was segregated then. Many schools were segregated then. Wrong, for sure, and we have worked hard to make these errors right. Removing Yost’s name from the ice arena does nothing to repair past errors. It does mollify some activists, but also throws away memories of Yost’s great accomplishments on the University’s behalf. Tearing down a person’s memory for things, now repugnant, that were acceptable in an earlier context is neither a good band-aid nor good history. I say keep his name on the ice arena.

  42. Gary Channell
    on June 4, 2021 at 12:26 pm

    In general, I believe all our historical figures accomplishments, contributions and beliefs should be evaluated relative to the norms of their time rather than whatever the values and norms of the day are now. Do the people trying to impose their current values on those who lived 100 years ago want their own actions today to be revisited by others 100 years from now, measured against whatever the norms are then?

    Mr. Yost was a major contributor to the development and growth of the University in his time here, and his legacy should be acknowledged and celebrated. Having said that, I would support the remaning of Yost Ice Arena under two conditions:

    1. Any renaming of the Ice Arena should be the responsibilty of the Athletic Department and, specifically, the Hocky Team.

    2. The contributions and legacy of Mr. Yost should continue to be publically recognized in some alternative way, again as determined by the Athletic Department.

  43. Bruce Flynn
    on June 4, 2021 at 12:52 pm

    I do not believe that erasing history serves the goal of learning from past mistakes. Fielding Yost was great coach and athletic director whose accomplishments in the athletic program are significant. He was also a flawed man whose misguided beliefs about race taint his life story. Both can be true at the same time. Our goal should not be to eradicate his accomplishments because we find his views on race to be offensive. Rather, we should educate the UM community about Yost, providing a full account of the impact of his decisions on black players and on UM. Rather than removing Yost’s name from the facility, a display case or exhibit in the Yost Arena entryway recounting the events of those times and highlighting Gerald Ford’s opposition and Willis Ward’s life would accomplish more to educate and enlighten than simply erasing Yost’s name from the public’s memory.

  44. John Novak
    on June 4, 2021 at 12:59 pm

    The University should stop trying to revise history and prevent free speech.
    A study of history should provide a perspective so errors of the past can be avoided in the future, NOT to revise the past to match current norms.
    Should everything named Washington and Jefferson be renamed because they owned slaves?
    This renaming effort is just another example of the University being more interested in current social issues than in providing an education that teaches students to consider the pros and cons of ALL issues.

    DO NOT RENAME YOST FIELDHOUSE.

  45. Neal Stephenson
    on June 4, 2021 at 1:41 pm

    One should learn from history. We can not judge what occurred in the past by today’s values. We need to learn from mistakes and move forward. What does the changing of a building’s name do moving forward? It may make some feel better once they are told about the issue that they may have not been aware of before someone complains. In this case, it would negate the significant contributions Yost made to the UM. I for one am strongly opposed to this proposed change and the cancel culture that is attacking our history. When does it stop? I for one will backup my opinions with my future financial contributions to the University.

  46. B Lynn Swanson
    on June 4, 2021 at 1:46 pm

    I do not support changing the name for most of the same reasons other people have stated. Please!

  47. Robert Wood
    on June 4, 2021 at 1:56 pm

    I believe Yost’s name should be removed from our arena. His hiring of P.I.’s to persecute protestors goes beyond simply being a man of his era. It was retributive and completely unnecessary.

    His name should be replaced, and there are several women and men of honor, who better represent the people this great university produces for the world.

  48. Henry Lowendorf
    on June 4, 2021 at 2:31 pm

    There is no doubt that Werner von Braun made an important contribution to the development of rocket science. He was also an important cog in the Nazi war machine. We can analyze his engineering contribution without naming a building or monument after him. Yost made a contribution to athletics at UM. Using the power of his position his racist actions tell us not to name a monument or building after him.

    I’ve read the historical analysis report. One obvious conclusion is that during the period covering Yost’s presence on the U of M campus the U.S. was not uniformly racist. There were strong anti-racism movements nationally and within the University of Michigan itself. One cannot deny that among the founding principles of the United States of America was acceptance of slavery and the various racist tenets that supported them along with upholding the rights of the propertied over everyone else. The racist actions we see today, most tellingly led at the Presidential level, and opposing them the anti-racist actions seen by the widespread, multiracial protests over the murder of George Floyd continue the epic struggle to end racism and white supremacy in this country.

    I remember as a student, 1960-1964, that Ann Arbor was embroiled in a fair housing dispute, which I later realized as a battle between the right to decent housing for Black people versus the right of landlords to deny rentals to anyone they chose – in particular Black people. At my level of political maturity at the time I wasn’t sure which side I was on – human rights or property rights. In 1934 three students were expelled because they led protests against the benching of a Black Michigan football player in 1934 when Michigan, at Yost’s connivance, bowed to the racist policies of Georgia Tech. If and when there were protests in the 1960’s against housing discrimination in Ann Arbor I paid little attention.

    International boycotting of Apartheid South Africa was an important stake in the heart of that system and the positive consequences of such a later boycott of Southern whites-only athletic teams by midwestern universities is apparent. In this case U of M wasn’t one of the leaders and best.

    The people of the United States have to come to terms with institutional racism, past and present.

    Today for me and for an increasing number in our country, the choice is clear. To prevent racist institutions from continuing to corrode our collective humanity we must actively, vociferously, fight to end them. And that includes not honoring a University building with the name of an important contributor to institutional racism.

  49. Lawrence Michalak
    on June 4, 2021 at 2:35 pm

    We are all imperfect humans created equally.
    It is very easy to look at one person or one event in isolation. What about the UM presidents that supported Yost and the way football was played? Shouldn’t their decisions or lack of action also be judged by us now? Based on the committee’s report, there were plenty of “unwritten laws” during this time period.
    After reading this UM article – https://historyofum.umich.edu/an-unwritten-law/ I found it interesting the committee left out this paragraph.

    Franklin and her mother remained resolute and brought the matter to the attention of President Marion Burton, who was reluctant to take a position. Jones noted Burton “couldn’t see any possible way to put a colored woman in the dormitory,” though he wouldn’t go so far as to say it was impossible.

    Were Yost’s actions that different from President Burton’s words?

  50. Brian Mills
    on June 4, 2021 at 3:14 pm

    I do not support renaming Yost Field House. People who suggest it should be renamed need to look at themselves and work on their own faults and issues first to help improve themselves and the world before looking to fix other people. Cancelling others is never the answer.

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