Petition seeks to remove Clarence Thomas name from Savannah College building

Students and alumni from a Georgia college are petitioning to remove Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas' name from a campus building.

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As of Friday, over 1,800 people had signed a petition calling for the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) to rename its Clarence Thomas Center for Historic Preservation after Anita Hill, who in 1991 came forward during Thomas' Supreme Court confirmation hearings to accuse him of sexual harassment.

Originally used as an orphanage and a convent, the building was renamed after Thomas following its 2010 renovation. Thomas grew up in Savannah and had served as an altar boy at the convent, according to the university's website.

Sage Lucero, the petition's creator and a 2018 SCAD graduate, said she only learned the building was named after Thomas in the midst of the confirmation hearings for new Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

"It's utterly disgraceful to me that I attended a school where a building was named after a sexual predator," Lucero wrote in her petition. "And not just any sexual predator, one who wrongfully won against a woman's word."

Hill, now a Brandeis University professor, alleged that Thomas sexually harassed her in the 1980s when he was her supervisor at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Hill said Thomas pressured her multiple times to go out with him and described his sexual interests to her.

Thomas' confirmation hearings were referenced increasingly as Kavanaugh's progressed and more women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct.

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Many of the Senate Judiciary Committee members who questioned Hill in 1991 were present for Ford's testimony. And as Kavanaugh forcefully denied the allegations and called them an "orchestrated political hit," many were reminded of how Thomas had described his own confirmation hearings as a "high-tech lynching" while also denying the allegations.

Lucero said many comparisons can be drawn between Hill and Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford, calling the two circumstances "extremely similar."

"For women like Dr. Ford, and Anita Hill to come forward and speak out about what happened to them is extremely traumatic," Lucero wrote. "For someone to not believe a victim who remembers sheer details such as laughter and has gone through therapy because of it is honestly disgraceful."

SCAD did not return multiple calls from USA TODAY, but said in a statement to WSAV last Friday that university officials are "aware of the petition and have reached out to the sponsor."

The petition comes after Harvard Law School students protested Kavanaugh's involvement with the school and called on him to drop his class there. More than 800 alumni signed a letter calling for Kavanaugh's status as a lecturer to be rescinded. Kavanaugh did withdraw from the class, but it's unclear if the student effort had anything to do with his decision.

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