students covering up Lech Walesa display in protest of name
students covering up Lech Walesa display in protest of name
Ryland Roberts

“But they can’t walk around the city on their toes and confuse my grandchildren.” – Lech Walesa, 2019

Since the release of the Lech Walesa Hall (LWH) article from the last issue of the Independent, students have been taking action around NEIU. You might have noticed posters titled “RENAME LECH WALESA HALL” hung around the school. Those were posted by Ross Vecchione, a first-year student who plans on majoring in physical education. With a past in social justice, he quickly put himself in motion to get the word out with his petition about changing the name of LWH to something else, telling everyone he knew about the history behind the name and why we should care as students.

Picture of Ross Vecchione (Ryland Roberts)

“That they make an effort to include all types of students and naming a building after somebody who not only has been sort of seen as like as someone who’s just homophobic but also someone who just representative of the past and has continued to change the society is not really that great,” Vecchione said to the Independent when asked how he believes the current name of the building affects the community. 


On NEIU’s website, there is a statement on diversity: “Northeastern Illinois University is the most diverse public comprehensive university in the Midwest. This diversity affects the core of the institution – we learn, teach, and work in an environment that is made richer, more relevant, and more rewarding by the deeply diverse group of individuals that makes up our University community.” With NEIU’s diversity clause in question, what are students doing in protest of LWH’s name? 

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One of the Independent’s photographers caught Ross with a few friends getting ready to put up a large sheet of paper to cover Lech Walesa’s mini-exhibit. The paper was covered with little rainbow hearts. 


Right, yes. But they can’t walk around the city on their toes and confuse my grandchildren. This is not normal, the majority is different, and they have to conform to this majority. They have to submit to the majority and this is how our children trick us,” Walesa said in a 2019 WP article. Now, one may ask why this comment didn’t gain any traction. 


With the knowledge of what Walesa said being spread through the paper or by word of mouth, students are jumping into action. Vecchione posted posters and spread his petition around school, and other students joined in. Many may wonder what’s next. History repeats itself sometimes; will we see the same events unfold like they did in 2013, when Lech Walesa first came out with his set of homophobic comments? Only time will tell.

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