Sid Williams Richardson was, by and large, a successful Texas businessman. He held stakes in land, cattle and oil, and amassed his million-dollar fortune as a result of the Texas oil boom in the early 20s. He was white, wealthy and eventually a benefactor of UT. As a result, Sid Richardson Hall, near the LBJ Library, was named after him in 1971.
However, the institutions now housed in that building — most notably, the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS) and the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection Library — are too culturally significant to be housed in a building named after some wealthy white oilman who is irrelevant to these studies. Sid Richardson Hall should be renamed because the institutions, resources and materials it houses are not being properly represented under the building’s current name.
SRH also houses the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History and part of the LBJ School of Public Affairs, both also impressive and influential institutions whose mere existences speak to the diversity and values of UT. José Montelongo, head of collection development at the Benson Collection Library, he could not speak for the Briscoe Center or the LBJ School but said that the Benson is one of the best libraries for the study of Latin America in the world.
“It is unique and important, not only because of its sheer size — a million volumes either published in Latin America or about Latin America,” Montelongo said. “It has been collecting Latin American materials for almost 100 years.”
Montelongo, who has worked for the Benson for nearly five years, said he’s never heard the name ‘Sid Richardson’ in any other context aside from the name of the building he works in. Throughout all his years of research, work and study, Montelongo has never found a link between Sid Richardson and Latin America.
Sid Richardson does not have any explicit connection to the work being done in this building or the diverse and cultural studies that students within it passionately pursue. The institutions, programs and resources within SRH should be housed in a building with a name that reflects their importance.
Government and Latin American studies junior Stephany Galvan spends a lot of time in SRH — she currently has two classes in the building and meets up with her Latin American studies group there as well. Galvan said the building should be renamed not only because Sid Richardson is no longer relevant to the work being done inside SRH, but because the work being done within LLILAS in particular is worthy of real recognition.
“A lot of things are changing, especially here, and I feel like if we don’t change we’re going to keep on being forgotten inside this building.”
Renaming of SRH is long overdue, and if UT is having trouble coming up with someone who is relevant to LLILAS, the Benson, the Briscoe Center or even the LBJ School to name the building after, they can ask for student, faculty and staff input. This is a perfect opportunity for UT to recognize the hard work being done by institutions that help contribute to the diversity of its campus. Recognition may be the key to their ability to survive and thrive.
Caldwell is a Latin American studies and journalism sophomore from College Station.