College removes word ‘freedom’ from ID cards after student demands citing slavery

  • Robert Morris University just announced that it will change its ID card design, making them “RMU ID Cards” rather than “Freedom Cards.”
  • The college made the change following a student petition to take the word “freedom” off the cards.

While colleges across the country are removing statues and nixing traditions in the name of “inclusivity,” one university is removing the word “freedom” from its student identification cards because it is “has made minority students” feel “dehumanized.”

Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania will change its student, faculty, and staff ID cards from “Freedom Cards” to “RMU ID Cards," Campus Reform has learned. 

"Gifting us with IDs that grant us our ‘freedom’ is of extremely poor taste."   

The decision follows the circulation of an online petition initiated by student Melanie Hall, who asked the university to rename its ID cards, arguing that the choice of “Freedom Cards” for minority students (who make up 24 percent of students at RMU, according to the petition) was a “poorly named form of identification.” 

It “has made minority students (black students in particular) feel like we are being dehumanized. Gifting us with IDs that grant us our ‘freedom’ is of extremely poor taste. Especially coming from a University that is named after a slave owner,” Hall wrote. 

“We would like to rename our Freedom Cards to something that is not insensitive,” reads the petition. “If Robert Morris University is the welcoming place that the other 76 percent of students know and love; we ask that these changes be made so that minority students can also feel that same pride in being a Colonial.”

[RELATED: University drops hand signal tradition, too close to ‘White Power’ sign]

At least 130 people signed the petition before the RMU Dean of Students notified Hall that the name and design of the cards would be changed. 

John Michalenko, Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students, told Hall in an email obtained by Campus Reform that “the Freedom Card is changing its name. The Robert Morris University ID is now the RMU ID Card.” 

The college will update the technology of the card as well, Michalenko said. 

[RELATED: VIDEO: Students say these college mascots are ‘offensive’]

Jonathan Potts, Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations at RMU, told Campus Reform that the change had been discussed before the circulation of the petition. 

“We had already been planning to redesign and rename our student, faculty, and staff identification cards to make them more widely recognized on campus and more easily communicate their purpose,” Potts said, adding that the school “nonetheless thought the time was right to communicate it to the students for whom it was a concern.” 

“Success!” Michalenko concluded his email to Hall. “Tell your mom.” 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @mariatcopeland

Get exclusive access to breaking CampusReform stories as they happen. Sign up below and we'll keep you in the loop.
 Weekly Digest

 Daily Emails

Maria Copeland
Maria Copeland | Virginia Campus Correspondent

Maria Copeland is a Virginia Campus Correspondent, reporting on liberal bias and abuse on campus for Campus Reform. She is originally from Herndon, Virginia and received her Associates of Arts in Communications from Northern Virginia Community College this May. She will attend James Madison University in the Fall. While on campus, Maria was Gupta Family Foundation Scholar, Vice President of the Loudoun Student Government Association, Vice President of the Loudoun Writing Association, and a Student Ambassador for the Honors Program. She was also a Page for the Fairfax County Public Library. Maria was also a Campus Reform intern Summer 2020.

20 Articles by Maria Copeland