The most familiar building on campus carries a name tarnished in scandal.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Cultural Education Center, or, as students know it, the Carlsen Center. The Campus Ledger editorial board feels that the time has come to rename the building that bears the name of the college’s former president, who resigned in shame after accusations of sexual harassment bubbled at the forefront of the college. For nine years, the college has failed to distance itself from the name associated with the scandal by choosing not to rename the building.
From the Archives: “Was it a Complaint?” Read the original story from April 2006 when The Campus Ledger initially broke the story.
Those most familiar with the events surrounding former president Charles Carlsen’s resignation are more than likely limited to faculty and staff who were employed by the college at the time. With the events surrounding Carlsen’s resignation taking place nearly a decade ago, it is unlikely many students on campus are aware of the baggage that comes along with the building’s namesake. While faculty and staff may have expressed a desire to change the name in hushed conversation behind closed doors, the time has come to make a public stand and call for action.
Carlsen was immensely popular during his time as president, but in 2006, he was involved in a sexual harassment incident that rocked the college. A female employee of the college charged Carlsen with unlawful harassment from May–November 2003. Through numerous board meetings, private investigations and scrutiny from students and faculty, Carlsen stepped down as college president in 2006.
While it’s worthy to acknowledge the fact that Carlsen served as president for over 25 years and did have a positive impact on the college, including helping establish the Cultural Education Center in 1990, his legacy will always be overshadowed by the harm caused to the institution from the sexual harassment allegations. The fact that we have allowed Carlsen’s name to remain a cornerstone of our college is unacceptable.
Our college is inadvertently represented by this scandal. Visitors attend plays, orchestral recitals and comedy stand-ups in this building. Kids from elementary, middle and high schools around the area take campus tours in this building — a building that is named after a man who resigned after this scandal.
Our call to action is to bring back the original name of the building, the Cultural Education Center. At the very least, discussions need to be put in motion about giving the building a namesake that better defines the values of the college. We as a society are far beyond tolerance of sexual harassment incidents. The fact that the most recognizable building on campus bears this namesake screams tolerance. Renaming the Carlsen Center is the final step that the college must take in order to distance itself from this scandal.
From the Archives: “Carlsen’s questionable legacy lives on,” Staff Editorial, The Campus Ledger, Nov. 2008. Read about the last time the Ledger called for renaming the Carlsen Center, nearly seven years ago.