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Photos taken of the Tribal Lounge in Memorial Hall on Wednesday, October 31, 2018 on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Christina R. Matacotta, crmatacotta@gmail.com)

UPDATE: 

“The Hall of Nations” won with 50 percent of the 351 votes cast.


Memorial Hall was built in the 1920s to memorialize University of Georgia students who died in World War I. Until the Tate Student Center’s opening in 1983, it served as UGA’s student gathering area.

While it may not receive as much foot traffic as the Tate Center now, Memorial Hall still harbors several organizations and events year round. Most of these organizations have offices in what is unofficially called the “Tribal Lounge.”

However, as of Sept. 28, UGA Student Affairs adopted an initiative to change the unofficial name. Submissions for new name suggestions ended October 31.

The Tribal Lounge name came about after the 2009 expansion of the Tate Center, which also renovated the lounge and transferred on-campus organizations into it, such as the LGBT Resource Center, International Student Life, Collegiate Recovery Community and others.

Stan Jackson, Student Affairs director of communications and marketing initiatives, said the renovations, which included Native American motifs and colorful furniture, inspired the current name in students and faculty.

However, the name was not well received by everyone.

“Feedback from students, faculty and staff has been consistently provided over the years in favor of a more representative moniker relevant to the use of the space,” Jackson said in an email.

Ashley Waterfill, a student leader for the LGBT Resource Center was discontent.

“I think that the name is for sure out of date, and it should be updated to something that doesn’t use that word,” Waterfill said.

Dr. Jennifer Birch, professor of anthropology and member of the Institute of Native American Studies, said she felt there was no malice to the name, but was past its time.

“It sounds like it was perhaps all very well meant initially. But typically, with the term tribal is sort of seen as kind of pejorative, especially when it’s being used by non native people to refer to something as nominally indigenous,” Birch said, “Anglo American society might not realize these things can be hurtful and have different meanings for people who have had different life experiences.”

In spite of the lounge’s interior having been updated since 2009, the name has remained.

The renovation, “affords us an opportunity to rename an important space on campus and in the lives of our students,” it said on the International Student Life page. 

Students and faculty have suggested names that still hold an international theme, such as “Nations Lounge,” “World Intersection” and “International Junction,” Jackson said in an email.

There have also been some suggestions entirely without cultural themes, such as “Unity Hall” or quite simply “The Den.”

Three finalists, announced in January, were “The Unity Lounge,” “The Global Lounge,” and “The Hall of Nations,” and as of January 21 the winner had yet to be announced.

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