Update 9:30 p.m.: Florida State University students have voted to keep a statue of a school founder in place. Turnout was roughly 6,000 out of a student body of more than 40,000. The vote in favor of keeping the statute was more than 70 percent.
Campaign organizers Students for a Democratic Society issued a statement after the vote:
"SDS is saddened to hear the results of the SGA referendum on Francis Eppes. With the referendum being the only question available for students, they chose to vote for Francis Eppes and to maintain his monument and the building named after him.
Francis Eppes was a slave owner who owned 91 slaves on his plantation in Tallahassee. He built the night watches that worked to enforce racist laws and catch slaves. Francis Eppes was a firm believer in the confederate cause, selling his land to fund the confederate army. As someone who worked his whole life to enforce and maintain slavery, Francis Eppes does not deserve to be honored at FSU."
Even if the initiative had succeeded, any decision regarding statues or building name changes would still have to be approved by the university's board of trustees.
Original Story: Some Florida State University students are pushing for the removal of a campus statue featuring a university founder and slave owner. The Student Government Association held a vote Wednesday to ask the student body if they want Francis Eppes removed.
The Students for a Democratic Society got the issue on the ballot after collecting the required 500 signatures. FSU Student Senator Mel Theodore says that the outcome of the vote will be backed by the SGA.
"What happens after the vote," Theodore said. "Whether the students deny or accept this decision, it will be up to SGA to go forward with sponsoring a resolution, so we’d have to go forward with sponsoring that, if the students did decide to remove the statue."
In addition to the removal of the statue, the referendum on the ballot calls for the renaming of Eppes Hall on campus. Eppes gave money to help fund the university. FSU’s Board of Trustees has final say on any removal.