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. J William Ogden
    on June 4, 2021 at 4:38 pm

    Wake up Wolverines!  Wake up Americans!  Wake up Citizens of the World!

    First, move right past this stupid naming debate and and target the source:

    Our institutions are hijacked by a pernicious thread of illiberalism, dialectically evolving for over 200 years, producing nothing of value except for endless examples of pain and destruction.  This is not hyperbole.  It’s here.  We educated adults allowed it to happen.  We either rise up and stop it now or we accept the consequences.  

    Why are we so afraid to defend liberalism?  Why do we kowtow to things like collective guilt?  It’s not a left/right issue.  We’ve seen this many times before. We’ve beaten it many times before.  The hockey stick upward trajectory of liberal progress, across any metric in society, produced over the last 400 years is an indisputable fact.  It should be celebrated, unequivocally.  It is glorious!  

    Let this penny drop:  It is your job to protect it.  And it is certainly the job of the University of Michigan to protect it.  

    I don’t see evidence that the leadership of our university has the strength or conviction to face it.  Talk about the need for debate?  How about:  What areas of the University of Michigan, if any, have not been operationally infected by this disease?  

    Despite the endless cancellations and censorship, there is reason for optimism:  courageous individuals are fighting back, not only living to tell about it but – – and this is key – – finding the experience transcendently liberating and in doing so providing the roadmap for us all.  These people need to be celebrated and emulated. 

    Take Paul Rossi, the ivy-league educated high school math teacher, for example.  It’s informative that Paul was a post-modernist student in college, thereby equipping him to see the perversions of the movement.  As a founding teacher at a $50,000/year private New York City high school, Paul initially supported the school’s social justice initiatives only to gradually realize the movement’s deceptively obscured fatal flaws, garnering itself in the flowery language of diversity, equity, inclusion when in fact they were attempting to operationalize the opposite at a societal level….by targeting our young children.  With an important assist from Bari Weiss (after leaving the NYT last summer because of a woke newsroom revolt) publishing him on her substack on April 13th (https://bariweiss.substack.com/p/i-refuse-to-stand-by-while-my-students), Paul’s essay and “lived experience” pulled back the curtain for the world to see the destructiveness of this movement and the patterns it employs to infiltrate and embed itself within our institutions.  Crucially, he provided needed cover for others to speak out.  

    Just three days after Paul’s courageous essay, Andrew Gutmann, an incredibly brave parent spoke out at great risk (again, thank you Bari Weiss – – https://bariweiss.substack.com/p/you-have-to-read-this-letter) publishing a letter that went viral explaining why he pulled his daughter from a similar NYC private school.  We are now seeing countless parents taking the fight to their various school boards and winning.  There are a whole host of people from all different persuasions and areas of society joining together to stand up to this movement. 

    We need to take the baton and call out our universities, Saul Alinsky style: pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it.  Or maybe we can start more graciously, in the spirit of liberalism, by “entering into a dialog” with the leadership at the University of Michigan and telling them it’s time to get real.  The charade is over.  Protect traditional liberalism or we will find leaders who will.  

    I don’t care what we do or don’t do about the stupid names of our buildings.  That’s noise and serves only to distract and obfuscate the threat and the great extent it has already been actualized.  Wake up and fight this with everything you have.

    To start, write down what your own personal line is so that you will recognize when it’s been crossed.  It is only a matter of time.  Time to stiffen our resolve (one great Michigan leader once said, “insert steel in our spines”) and let’s get on with the job foisted upon the brave in our society.   

  2. Karen Epstein
    on June 4, 2021 at 4:39 pm

    If we don’t educate and raise questions about historic figures whose continued racial biases left people of color unable to receive the same housing, education, and University experience as their white counterparts, we, as a society, are failing in our responsibilities. Yost acted on his racism and therefore ostracized and kept people of color from experiencing U of M in the same way as white people. Although some argue that he was simply a person of those times, that is an insufficient reason to let him off the hook. People and societies must evolve. As my wise mother used to ask, “are you going to jump off a cliff just because others are doing it?” Just because others make racist comments does not mean the comments are correct or appropriate.

    As an undergrad in the mid 1970’s, there was a horrible tradition before the start of football games, of bringing out and honoring a diminutive female astronomy professor who allegedly graded A for athlete, B for boy, and C for co-ed. This tradition was completely sexist and perhaps abusive to the woman herself. It certainly had no place at a scholarly institution such as U of M.

    Over the years, I have come to realize that U of M Athletics functions in its own world and, whenever I receive an alumni survey, I respond that U of M should recruit students who are athletes, rather than athletes that they try to make into students. I taught at U of M as an adjunct in the Business School and in LSA (psychology) for a number of years and found that my students who were also athletes were mostly wonderful and that athletes who were also students were more often a problem and I would reach out to their coaches to ensure that those students completed their work.

    Since the primary role of the University is to educate, I hope it does the “right thing” and uses this instance to change the name from Yost to someone more honorable and to educate the University and broader community about the reasons why this had to be.

  3. William Milliken
    on June 4, 2021 at 5:45 pm

    Is there no end to this witch hunt? Will we eventually find a way to cancel everyone? As has been very well stated here by others Yost has a complex legacy with many outstanding achievements, some of which increased inclusion significantly. Please do not change the name. I for one will never give another penny and will change my bequeathments if you do. This has to stop somewhere.

  4. Kuldeep Persaud
    on June 4, 2021 at 6:05 pm

    Healing the past should not include erasing the past. The concept is flat out foolish. I am East Indian that was raised in British Colonialism where I was one step above a slave.
    I gain strength from my historical past. I embrace it.

  5. Shirley Gofrank
    on June 4, 2021 at 6:58 pm

    Please stop the nonsense. I am opposed to changing the name.

  6. Brian Mielewski
    on June 5, 2021 at 7:25 am

    Please do not change the name of Yost Arena.
    It is very dangerous for us to judge our ancestors by viewing them, or their actions, through the lens of today’s values. In doing this, we will find undue fault with all of our ancestors over time as modern values evolve.
    Yost’s legacy are his many contributions to our great University and to College athletics.

  7. Jeffrey Schmidt
    on June 5, 2021 at 9:49 am

    Do not change the name of Yost Arena.
    If the building was named after Yost to honor his racism, then of course the name should be changed. But I don’t think that was the case. I believe it was named after him because of his contributions to football and athletics at the UofM and we should continue to honor that.
    You can put some sort of plaque at the arena indicating the past issues as measured by current standards. Then that plaque can be updated as standards continue to evolve.
    If we cannot honor the good someone does because of imperfections, when we cannot honor anyone.

  8. Karen Brenner
    on June 5, 2021 at 10:17 am

    We are not judging Yost based on today’s values – the team, campus, etc., knew Yost’s behavior was deplorable and embarrassing to the U of M community at that point in history. Wrong today is wrong in 100 years, and this proposal isn’t cleansing, it’s acknowledging When the building was remodeled as the hockey center it should have been renamed Berenson then but it wasn’t. If Yost remains, at least update it to Yost Ward Ice Arena with a historic marker recognizing the bigger picture.

  9. Gordon Berenson
    on June 5, 2021 at 11:47 am

    I am strongly opposed to changing the name on Yost Ice Arena. This one hundred year old building was the first indoor fieldhouse of its kind and for fifty years it served most of the sports,the athletes and fans to years of memorable experiences, in 1973 Don Canahm, the athletic directer installed an ice making plant to turn Yost into the ice arena it is today. This building has become an iconic arena over the last 50 years allowing thousands of hockey teams,fans faculty and staff an opportunity to experience the Michigan spirit.Those memories go a lot deeper throughout this school over the last 100 years than we might think. Fielding Yost was a product of his southern upbringing and would not be accepted as a coach or athletic directer in todays world but the buildings he built have served us well and will continue well into the future.We can all learn from the past and strive for a more informed and respectful future. Keep the name. Yost Ice Arena.

  10. Scott Austin
    on June 5, 2021 at 1:54 pm

    Thank you to the committee who performed this assessment and formaking the report available for us to review. By reading it, I learned a lot about those in power at U-M and the impact of their actions.

    One of the statements associated with a similar assessment, included in the announcement titled “U-M to remove Little, Winchell names from campus facilities” distills this for me: “Historical memory and historical commemoration are not the same thing. The past is given to us to remember and understand and, therefore, is a kind of necessity; what we now commemorate from that past is a choice we make and one that must reflect our institutional values.”  I value having the University of Michigan being a world-class institution that fosters an environment where all students feel welcome, accepted, and can achieve their fullest potential.  I support the recommendation and ask those with the power to choose who U-M commemorates to ensure that it accurately reflects our institutional values.  

  11. William Ahrens
    on June 5, 2021 at 2:00 pm

    I wholehearted agree with many others who have commented on the pending removal of Fielding H. Yost’s name from Yost Arena. I find it very disturbing to scrutinize historic figures through the lens of whichever way the political winds blow in the 21st Century. Having the field house/arena named in his honor was done in recognition of Yost’s many accomplishments and contributions to the University in his time. Judging Mr. Yost only by his flaws is a great discredit!

  12. Harry Laughlin
    on June 5, 2021 at 4:03 pm

    I do not think that Yost Ice Arena should be renamed. Yost was a great coach and athletic director from 1901-1941. To hold Yost to 2021 standards regarding race is ridiculous. He did not allow Willis Ward, a Black man, to play against Georgia Tech in 1941-probably due to Georgia Tech objecting to it. Professional Baseball did not allow Blacks to play on a team until 1947, when Jackie Robinson broke the barrier.

    Yost’s attitudes towards Blacks was inappropriate and objectionable, but it was 1901-1941…

    If you rename Yost Ice Arena, you should push for the renaming of the Jefferson Memorial, Washington Memorial and Washington, D.C, since Jefferson & Washington owned slaves.

  13. Peter Rogan
    on June 5, 2021 at 7:42 pm

    My Michigan degree is in History. As a student I learned the power and the influence the past has on us, and also the way the present tends to re-interpret the past to conform with modern realities and opinions. Sometimes, in America, this is done to reflect a change in the idea of who we are, as Americans, and what it means to live under our Law, including our Constitution. A hundred and fifty years ago we fought a war to end the continuing contradiction and inhuman horror of slavery in a ‘land of the free.’ We have learned that the Civil War did not end racism, did not end the hatred many had for Black Americans, even unto this day. The struggle to define ourselves as a moral and principled nation continues and will continue into the future, until we achieve that goal.

    Along the way we must confront the fact that history shows us we used to be a far less moral or principled people, and what improvements we have made are small, and not always lasting. This is the living past, and we must remember it, for it is our only guide into the future we have yet to build together. We cannot help, now, that George Washington, ‘the father of his country,’ owned slaves. Or that Thomas Jefferson did, he who wrote the Declaration of Independence and avowed that all men must be free. And so did General Ulysses S. Grant, who led the Union Army to victory in the Civil War that ended slavery, though even Abraham Lincoln said that the war was to preserve the Union. The past does not become simpler by our wishing it so. It will always remain complex, often self-contradictory, and from it we must find our path forward away from the crimes we used to commit so casually, so thoughtlessly.

    At the same time we must be careful not to interpret our past as only a tale of disgrace and dishonor, horror and bloodshed. Those racists and warmongers built our society, which we still strive to improve. I fear that the urge to remove the stigma of racism from our past will impose a new kind of historicity on us, and we will come to judge the past only as a degraded and mistaken form of our present. And therefore subject to removal in favor of the popular will of the day. We ought to consider that this is the urge that caused the Taliban to destroy centuries-old massive statues of the Buddha, because they were ipse dixit anti-Islamic. And so had to be shelled out of existence.

    If the University can find another man, or woman, whose contribution to the University’s athletics was at least close to that of Fielding Yost, why, let us know who this is, so that we may appreciate their contribution. And we may even go along with replacing Yost’s name and accomplishments with this formerly-obscure person. But if the University regards that the athletic programs of a century and more ago, at a time when professional players competed in collegiate athletics, when Notre Dame was kept out of the Big Ten because it was a Catholic university, need to reflect the ideals and aspirations of today, you will not remove Yost’s accomplishments any more than you can remove his racism and his intolerance. Instead, you will enshrine the notion that the present determines the past we will acknowledge, and take only the lessons that suit present-day standards of decorum or accomplishment.

    And if the University does this, then in another ten or fifteen or twenty years, it will have to change out its ideal name and personality again, because those fashions will have changed, the new name found flawed and immoral, and the University will have established that the only history it acknowledges is the illusion of that history in that day. Maybe the University won’t use artillery to flatten inappropriate idols from a shameful, hated and already half-forgotten past — but it won’t need to. The destruction will have already been felt in every Michigan man and woman who used to respect the University, its traditions, and its formerly-deathless urge to betterment of all humankind. Despite its past. Because the world in which we live is not the past — it is what we have made of that past and will continue to make better in the years to come.

    Leave Fielding Yost where he is. Remember that he is the past. And take that legend into the future and make it better. Because that is what Michigan faculty, students and graduates do. And I hope they continue to do, well into the improving future.

  14. Michael Seeger
    on June 6, 2021 at 12:31 pm

    I believe the name should remain Yost Arena. Yost was part of the historical perspective of his time. What ever moral shortcomings Yost harbored were forged by the cultural norms of his time. I doubt if any person, from any time can survive such an analysis without uncovering something that some people from a different time or different cultural norm will find objectionable. Therefore, unless the objective is to erase all of our history, let’s leave the Yost Arena name as it is.

  15. Paul Thomas
    on June 6, 2021 at 4:11 pm

    Mark Schlissel
    Members of the The President’s Advisory Committee on University History

    Dear All:

    Your lynching of Fielding H. Yost’s legacy is slanderous . The mere existence of The President’s Advisory Committee on University History is a breach of fiduciary responsibility to Michigan tax payers. As you pander the state legislature for more funds, perhaps you’ll admit that the time and money committed to this entirely symbolic gesture could have been better spent.

    I hope in 2110, every action each of you ever took is put under the microscope of future morality. Maybe you shouldn’t have slept with that student, or taken a few liberties to get a grant submission in on time.

    Perhaps more concerning is how this kind of malarkey has impacted the quality of Michigan graduates over the last 15 years. Back when I was in Ann Arbor, there was a stark difference between Michigan grads and those from the tonier east coast schools. Michigan kids were scrappy. They embraced hard work. The thankless, no pay, no thank you kind of work. Michigan kids knew how to get ahead. They didn’t need safe spaces. Now, my experience is that they have the same entitlement issues as kids from other elite schools.

    Look, at the end of the day, most people don’t care what you name an ice rink. But they do care about the competitiveness of their employees, and I can tell you, Michigan kids are soft.

    You hold some accountability for that decline.

    My wife and I are both Michigan Alumni. Two retired investment bankers considering our philanthropic options. It won’t take us a year to drop Michigan from our list if Yost’s name is removed. The Leaders and Best have turned into the Followers and the Marginal.

    Sadly yours,

    Paul C. Thomas

    B.A. Economics ‘85

  16. James Kirk
    on June 6, 2021 at 6:13 pm

    I do not support the renaming of Yost Ice Arena. Fielding Yost grew up and lived in very different times. The way to handle situations that are found objectionable by today’s standards is to note that it was wrong, make sure it does not happen again and move on. As a very wise man said “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”.

    Leave the name in place.

  17. James Kent
    on June 6, 2021 at 6:59 pm

    Removing Yost’s name is utterly ridiculous. Who believes we can improve the present and future by cancelling the past? The people making this proposal have no idea how much damage this will do to our university with comparably tiny benefit.

  18. Michael Laskowski
    on June 6, 2021 at 9:55 pm

    It’s all or nothing when it comes to names on buildings at the University.

    Either keep the names on all buildings and come up with a way to EDUCATE about the good and the bad of those whose names are on the buildings on campus, or get rid of all of them. This includes buildings named in honor of someone or buildings named after donors.

    I do not care who you are. EVERYONE has faults. Everyone has something they’ve done in the past that they are not proud of. What matters most is not what happened, it is what you did to LEARN and GROW from it that truly matters.

    A John U. Bacon article from March 16, 2012 in the Ann Arbor Chronicle-

    Despite Yost’s error in judgment in 1934, Ward believed Yost had successfully “flip-flopped from being a segregationist” two years earlier when Ward made the team.

    Ward recalled his first trip to Chicago with the team in 1932. At the time, black players usually stayed with local families because the pricier hotels still did not accept black guests. Sure enough, when the team tried to check in, the hotel manager told Yost they did not admit blacks, and they weren’t about to start now. According to Ward, Yost became outraged.

    “‘We’ve been staying at this hotel since 1900,’” Ward recalled Yost saying, “‘and we’ll pull every [Michigan] team and I’ll get other Big Ten teams to not stay here!’”

    The angry appeal to their financial interest was enough to desegregate the hotel for one night. Ward became only the second African-American to stay in the hotel, the first being the singer Marian Anderson.

    There are other examples of Yost’s surprising change of heart from his racist past. He successfully lobbied to get black track star DeHart Hubbard into the university; he volunteered his influence and field house to support an athletic exhibition to raise funds for the Dunbar Center, a local organization that promoted social betterment for African-Americans; and he started Benny Friedman, a practicing Jew, at quarterback in the mid-1920s, then helped him become athletic director at Brandeis University.

    This is not to suggest Yost became a pillar of social justice. But, for the son of a confederate soldier born six years after the Civil War, the examples above do indicate Yost at least recognized the changing times, and had begun to change with them.

    ….

    Isn’t that why we go to college? To educate ourselves and grow from those experiences?

    The university may very well choose to take his name off the building. But his touch is PERMANENT as long as the University of Michigan exists. The fact of the matter is that U-M would not be what it is today without him getting off that train in Ann Arbor in 1901. He was so much more than just a football coach or an athletic director. He believed in athletics for all and he believed This Michigan of Ours is the greatest institution on this Earth.

    As long as people like me are on this Earth, he will never be erased and will never be forgotten.

  19. John Sterbenz
    on June 7, 2021 at 12:46 am

    With the University’s recent decision to retain the Weiser name on a University facility, it set a very dangerous precedent which it now must also apply to this scenario.

    Failure to decide to retain the name of Fielding H. Yost on Yost Ice Arena will very clearly and publicly show the world the intention of the University to value money over legacy, setting the University up to serve as a laughingstock for its decision–an outcome it deserves.

    Keep the name of Yost or begin removing all names from buildings, public spaces, programs, schools, colleges, and even campuses across the University. ANY PERSON THAT HAS EVER LIVED has done something in his/her past for which a jaundiced eye of any present or future time can be cast as the bounds of what is considered “acceptable” changes.

  20. Craig Kuras
    on June 7, 2021 at 1:33 am

    I am against the proposal to remove Fielding H. Yost’s name from the Ice Arena. Coach Yost was not a perfect person, and some of his actions may be perceived as racist, but if you remove his name from the building, then you must remove the name of everyone from all University buildings based on the fact that no one is perfect and everyone has flaws and imperfections in their past. Just days ago, President Schlissel announced that Ron Weiser’s name would not be removed from the campus. Also, Stephen Ross has been a big supporter of former President Trump, who condones white supremacy. In an interview with the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Mr. Ross talks about Trump’s divisiveness and business policies and stated, “You have to put it all together, and no one’s perfect.” In the Detroit Free Press, President Schlissel said of Mr. Weiser “One of the most challenging aspects of controversies about building names is that individuals’ lives and their legacies are complex and sometimes even contradictory.” Both quotes could be applied to Mr. Yost. The difference: money. Lots of it. Removing Yost’s name and keeping Weiser’s and, in turn, Ross’, makes the University of Michigan nothing but hypocritical.

  21. Robert Miller
    on June 7, 2021 at 9:44 am

    I am not in favor of removing Yost’s name from the Ice Arena. I had a completely different argument to offer until I recently read that the University of Michigan is NOT going to remove Ron Weiser’s name from Weiser Hall after his despicable and deplorable comments toward duly elected women public servants in Michigan. To remove Yost’s name, but leave Weiser’s would be the ultimate in hypocrisy and would lead to well-deserved derision for inconsistent application of accountability.

  22. Robert Soderstrom
    on June 7, 2021 at 10:14 am

    I am writing to support the removal of Fielding Yost’s name from the ice arena. While it is evident Yost was not an anti-semite (Benny Friedman, his two time All-American quarterback was Jewish), and he believed strongly in equal access to athletic activity for women and built the finest intramural facilities in the nation for Michigan’s coeds, he was clearly racist in his actions toward Willis Ward and, no doubt, to African-Americans as a group.
    His name should come down, but in taking that action, let us not comfort ourselves too much. Yost and his teams of 25 white boys did not exist in some lonely corner apart from the University. I stated in my book, The Big House: Fielding H. Yost and the Building of Michigan Stadium, that Yost was a nationally recognized symbol of the University of Michigan and everywhere he went he promoted the school he loved, but his racism, which we rightly condemn, perfectly represented the University in his day. It wasn’t just the football team that was all white. I haven’t had time to do the research, but I think I can state with confidence that there were very few, if any, African-Americans in the medical school or the law school or the English department or the engineering school. The institution was awash in racism and Yost’s football team was a proper representative of the place. Willis Ward was not allowed to play against Georgia Tech and it was an awful public display of racism not reversed, by the way, by the President of the University or the all-white faculty-dominated Board in Control of Intercollegiate Athletics. But let us pause for a moment to think about the thousands of African-American young people who were told by the University that they could not become teachers or nurses or doctors or lawyers. If African-American athletes were told the University of Michigan was not a welcoming environment, how many aspiring young African-American students were told the University was no place for them? How devastating was that denial of opportunity to the Black community of the time?
    Willis Ward, to his great credit, went on to obtain a law degree and had a very distinguished professional career in the Detroit area, but his law degree was not from the University of Michigan. Could it be that the racism that kept him off the field against Georgia Tech also kept him out of the University of Michigan law school?
    Let us take Yost’s name down from the fieldhouse, but don’t let us think for a moment that this act somehow compensates for the viciously racist institutional policies broadly in place at the University of Michigan for many decades that were far more harmful to Black Americans than one football player not being allowed to take the field in Michigan Stadium. Let us pause to recognize and maybe somehow try to compensate for the damage done to the African-American community by denying whole generations access to the educational opportunities the University offered. Yost was a racist, but he represented the University only too well.

    Robert M Soderstrom, M.D.
    Medical School, 1972
    June 7, 2021

  23. Rashid Faisal
    on June 7, 2021 at 11:56 am

    Fielding H. Yost served 25 years as head coach of the Michigan Wolverines from 1901-1926 and twenty-year run as athletic director from 1921 to 1941. In all, Yost spent 45 years shaping and influencing University of Michigan football and athletics. No need to review his accomplishments, but it is safe to say Yost’s legacy as one of the most legendary in collegiate football is history is secure. Yost’s football legacy was established during the nadir in American race relations which witnessed African Americans relegated to second-class citizenship every in state in the United States–including Michigan. From the end of Reconstruction until World War II Southern states were in defiance of the 14th and 15th Amendments and removed Blacks from citizenship. During this same period over 100,000 Blacks were re-enslaved through the “convict lease system” in the South, nearly 3,500 Blacks were lynched, over 100 race riots took place, chapters of the KKK were found in cities across America, and segregation was the norm throughout the country. To say Yost was a man of his times is accurate. His racism and acceptance of discrimination and segregation against Black Americans fell in line with the racial attitude and practices of the majority of Americans, including the president of the United States, President Woodrow Wilson who won the presidency in 1912 and immediately segregated the federal government. He praised the Confederacy and the KKK even held a private screening in the White House of of the racist film “Birth of the Nation”, a film that praised the KKK and villainized Black Americans. Like Yost, Wilson was born in the South and his parents supported the Confederacy. And Yost, like Wilson, held unfavorable views of African Americans and was in a position of power to act on his racist assumptions, beliefs and attitudes. Both Wilson’s and Yost’s racial attitudes, beliefs, assumptions, and discriminatory practices were supported by racially discriminatory local, state, and federal laws and normative social practices that facilitated systemic racism that was indifferent to Black marginalization and suffering. The University of Michigan, as a whole, historically demonstrated indifference to the marginalization and suffering of Black students. Yost’ ability to bar Blacks from participation in Michigan sports was accepted by the larger community, including university presidents. For example, President Alexander Ruthven, president at the time of Willis Ward’s racially motivated benching, proved to be an evasive figure who supported Yost’s benching of Ward as a matter of the athletic department’s “control” over player selection and the “coach’s decision” of which players would play, and that since a contract between Michigan and Georgia Tech was signed–no such formal agreement was made–Michigan would participate in the game according to the conditions outlined in the agreement between Yost and Georgia Tech’s head coach. Why is this important to share? Men like Yost were indeed educated and socialized to disregard the citizenship and humanity of Black Americans. Men like Yost are supported by institutional powerbrokers who ignore, excuse, and support their actions without regard for the impact of these actions on Black American citizenship and humanity. Like Wilson, Yost was clearly wrong. And like Wilson, Yost’s racial attitude, assumptions, and actions were consistent with American laws and social practices. There will forever be a stain on Michigan’s football and sports tradition as a result of the actions of Yost and other higher ranking officials. In other words, as Rev. Otis Moss Jr. stated, “There are somethings that are beyond repair.” Removing Yost’s name from the ice arena will not repair past racial misdeeds by both Yost and the University of Michigan. What is needed is steps towards racial reconstruction or a new process of ascribing new meaning to race in order to transform the way people think about race and racism and how they act on racial attitudes, assumptions, biases, and material inequalities. The university will require a more comprehensive strategy to address both past and present racial attitudes, assumptions, biases, and material inequalities that continue to impact the schooling experiences of Black American students at the University of Michigan. Will removing the name of Yost contribute to re-imagining how we see race and racism? Possibly. But this act alone cannot repair past damage nor can it prevent future damage unless it is married to a comprehensive strategy to ensure the University of Michigan is truly a democratic institution of higher learning.

  24. Jane Bronson
    on June 7, 2021 at 5:31 pm

    I strongly oppose the removal of Fielding Yost’s name from Yost Ice Arena, formally known as the Yost Field House.
    Under his leadership and because of his vision, Michigan Stadium, UM Golf Course, and Yost Field House (the first multi-sport field house in the nation) were established.
    Yost was pressured in 1934 to bench Willis Ward during the Georgia Tech game. Georgia Tech refused to play.
    Friends and relatives will tell you Ward loved the University of Michigan. He was inducted into the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor in 1981.
    The State of Michigan established Willis Ward Day and he was honored at the Michigan vs. Michigan State game on October 20, 2012, at the Big House.
    As time went on, Willis Ward continued to love the University of Michigan and he became a lawyer and a Judge in Detroit.

    Do not remove Yost from the arena.

  25. Robert Malte
    on June 7, 2021 at 11:53 pm

    Removing Fielding Yost’s name from a building he created is ludicrous.

    A lynchpin of the committee’s argument is that Yost was not progressive and resisted integrating Michigan football. In 1896 the supreme court in Plessy v Ferguson ruled that segregation was not discrimination. Separate, but equal was legal. In 1954 the supreme in Brown v Board of Education overturned the ruling and declared segregation to be unconstitutional. The committee holds Fielding Yost to a higher standard than the supreme court. It is arrogant to judge someone who lived one hundred years ago by today’s standards

    I question Why this committee exists at least as a permanent committee. Does the university require a committee to sanitize its history?

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