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Columbus Catholic School alumni petition to change name

Three Columbus Catholic School alumni started a petition to change the name of Columbus...
Three Columbus Catholic School alumni started a petition to change the name of Columbus Catholic Schools in Marshfield because of the controversy behind Christopher Columbus. (WSAW)
Published: Jun. 16, 2020 at 10:40 PM CDT
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Three Columbus Catholic School alumni started a petition to change the name of Columbus Catholic Schools in Marshfield because of the controversy behind Christopher Columbus.

Along with a name change, they are also looking to have the statue of Christopher Columbus removed that currently sits in front of the school’s building.

“I’m well aware that it’s very likely that we could fail at this, but if we have to fail 50 times before people listen and change is possible, then I’m willing to be a part of that process,” 2016 Columbus Catholic School Graduate Ruthey Schultz said.

Schultz, along with her sister Ella and their friend Ada Inman have been brainstorming the idea for a petition for a few years, and just a few days ago it finally became real. To date, their online petition has seen over 600 signatures and it’s their goal to reach at least 1,000.

“Seeing this play out on the national stage and it can be so hard feeling helpless just seeing all those things going on and I think it’s important to start in our own community,” Ruthey Schultz said.

These former students don’t think it’s right to honor Christopher Columbus who was a slaveowner and killed Native Americans. They said it’s time to move on to a name that is less controversial and honors everyone.

"Why not take this opportunity to draw upon injustices that are affecting everyone, but especially minority communities who may not be as well listened to," Inman said.

Although they want the Columbus name removed, the students believe that the community and the school system need to work together on coming up with a new name.

However, according to the President of Columbus Catholic Schools David Eaton, it’s not all that easy to change the name.

"When you're thinking about it, an entire rebranding of a school system, think of everything that is here that has the current name and logo," Eaton said.

Eaton said he isn’t against the name change, but he says there’s a great deal of history that is tied with the Columbus name and its alumni, which even dates back to the Knights of Columbus.

"We have families that are on their fourth generation in our schools so there's this long history of commitment that a lot of people have made and I think we need to respect that,” Eaton said.

Ruthey Schultz said she doesn’t expect everyone to like the idea of changing the name, but she hopes this petition will start a conversation in the community and they’ll be able to work the Columbus administration on the issue.