USW Applauds Renaming of Pitt’s Parran Hall

CONTACT: R.J. Hufnagel (412) 562-2450

PITTSBURGH – Members of the University of Pittsburgh Grad Union and the Pitt Latin American Graduate Organization of Students (LAGOS) commended today’s decision by the university’s board of trustees to rename the school’s Parran Hall.

Pitt Grad Union organizers collected more than 1,300 petition signatures from community members demonstrating broad support for the name change. In April, they submitted the petitions to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion committee. Earlier this week, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher recommended that the trustees vote to rename the building.

“This shows how much can be achieved when graduate students come together and organize all across the campus,” said Rahul Amruthapuri, a doctoral student in behavioral and community health sciences.

Parran Hall, which partially houses the university’s Graduate School of Public Health, had been named for former U.S. Surgeon General Thomas Parran, who presided over the infamous Tuskegee experiments, in which treatment for syphilis was withheld from African-American men in Alabama long after penicillin was proven effective.

While Grad Union members applauded today’s vote, they said in the future the university must make such decisions with greater transparency and more consideration of student voices.

“To be an institution that serves the entire Pittsburgh community requires transparency,” said Casey Madden, a student in Pitt’s Masters of Public Health program. “We can all agree that the name should be changed, but we must be transparent in how we do it.”

Grad Union members and LAGOS members said they hoped Pitt would consider community input when deciding on a new name for the building. The union petition suggested two possible honorees, Dr. Herbert Needleman, who did foundational research into lead poisoning, and Maud Menten, a pioneering researcher in enzyme kinetics and histochemistry.

“We believe this will truly make a difference for Latinx students on campus by creating a more welcoming environment,” said Daniel Jacobson, president and founder of LAGOS. “This decision reflects the concerns of Latinx students on campus and that of the Pitt Grad Union.”

Pitt graduate students filed for a union election to join the USW in December 2017.

The Academic Workers Association is part of the USW, which represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, the service and public sectors and higher education.

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