Opinion Asks: A Disreputable Donor?

by The Dartmouth Opinion Staff | 2/16/21 2:00am

After the recent revelations regarding Leon Black 73’s payments to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, should the Black Family Visual Arts Center be renamed?

It is extremely unfortunate that Black chose to associate with Epstein. However, while his selection of business partners showed a lack of good judgment, Black did not commit any known crime that would justify removing his name from BVAC. Furthermore, if a condition of the donation was attaching Black’s name to the building, Dartmouth might face financial consequences. If a morally pure donor who has never associated with anyone of ill repute would like to replace the funds and attach a different name instead, that would be a welcome resolution.

— Thomas de Wolff ’24

BVAC should be renamed in the wake of the recent revelation of Black’s payments to Epstein. To keep the current name would be turning a blind eye toward the personal and financial link between the two men, and in turn, would be a signal of complacency and ambivalence toward the repugnant crimes committed by Epstein and his ring. Making the move to rename BVAC would not be a lone action; artists across the country are now calling on New York’s Museum of Modern Art to remove Black as chairman.

— Gracie Dickman ’24

Naming a building after someone honors that person in an extremely visible and public manner. In essence, it says to the community that this person is someone who deserves to be commended for their actions and contributions. 

While no person is perfect, giving such a large amount of money to someone who has been convicted of such a despicable offense is not dismissable as a simple lapse in judgement. BVAC must be renamed. Otherwise, the College sets a precedent that, for enough money, it will turn a blind eye to your wrongdoings, even if those wrongdoings involve giving $158 million to a convicted sex offender.

— Natalie Dokken ’23

This isn’t a close call. BVAC should absolutely be renamed. There is no reason why a man’s wealth alone should allow his name to be tied to the College. Black — despite his generous donations to Dartmouth over the decades — should be shunned by the Dartmouth community in light of his relationship with Epstein. There is no reason why the College cannot find another alum (hopefully someone who represents the diversity of Dartmouth in the 21st century) to honor by attaching a name to a building such as the Visual Arts Center. May I suggest someone like Mindy Kaling ’01? 

— Michael Harrison ’24

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