Campus Reform | College renames its arboretum over racism controversy

College renames its arboretum over racism controversy

A private college in Minnesota has renamed an arboretum due controversy around its namesake, the renowned scientist Carl Linneaus.

Both the Board of Trustees and a local newspaper endorsed the decision.

Gustavus Adolphus College, a private college in St. Peter Minnesota, has renamed their arboretum due allegations that it honored a proponent of racism.

The individual in question is the famed botanist Carl Linneaus, known as the 'father of taxonomy' for formalizing the classification of living organisms, also known as binomial nomenclature.  

Daily Collegian reports that the structure will now be called The Arboretum at Gustavus Adolphus College instead of the Linnaeus Arboretum.

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Linnaeus’s 1735 work, Systema Naturae, classified man within the animal kingdom, and further sub-classified humans into different categories - European, Native American, Asian, and Black - while adding physical and even moral characteristics attributed to their geographical location and skin color. 

A local newspaper, The Mankato Press, stated in an editorial that distancing the arboretum from Linneaus helps the institution avoid any “racist taint.”

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In the university's official statement, Board of Trustees Chair Scott Anderson stated, "Gustavus will embrace the educational opportunity to tell a more complete history of Carl Linnaeus, examining not only his contributions to science but also the problematic elements of his work.”

Campus Reform reached out to Gustavus Adolphus College for comment, they referred back to the official statement on the school’s website and declined to expand any further.