A University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) student has called former US President Ronald Reagan “disturbingly racist” and asked her alma mater to drop his name from their medical center.
English and creative writing student Sophia Kloster cited Reagan’s 1971 phone call to Richard Nixon, in which Reagan called shoeless African delegates at the United Nations “monkeys.”
Kloster also criticized Reagan for turning a blind eye to AIDS, going so far as not accepting the illness till 1985. She argued that the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center should drop his name from the school. She also claimed that the “center is dedicated to promoting health equity — unlike the person it is named after.”
“It is hypocritical for the center to preach equity for people of all sexual orientations, races and ethnicities while simultaneously carrying the name of a president whose actions undermined those values and led to the deaths of thousands,” Kloster wrote in UCLA student newspaper Daily Bruin.
This is not the first time that students have called out former President Reagan’s actions and asked schools to dissociate themselves from his legacy.
Last year, Chapman University students circulated an online petition asking the school to take down busts of Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Ayn Rand. Students chastised Regan’s indifference toward the LGBT+ community’s advocacy for AIDS patients. They complained that having Reagan’s statue invoked “feelings of exclusion” among marginalized students on campus.
“We believe the removal provides not only a display of allyship, but also a hopeful opportunity for educating students on the ways these historical figures abused their power to mistreat others,” their letter stated.