Malcolm Over Moore, a campaign created by electrical engineering senior Vikram Sundaram, embraces absurdity by supporting a unique name change for Robert Lee Moore Hall. The movement calls for the building to be renamed after Ian Malcolm, a UT mathematician from “Jurassic Park.”
“I’m reading through the book (‘Jurassic Park’) and … I was like, ‘Wow, this is the answer to the problem,’” Sundaram said. “It’s a character that single-handedly symbolizes caution and not doing things impulsively, and that’s really the idea of or at least the impetus behind changing it to Ian Malcolm.”
Sundaram began the campaign after learning about the racist comments Moore made while serving as a math professor at UT. He has been pushing for the name change on Facebook and the Student Government website, though it is not officially SG-supported.
“(Moore) made some pretty remarkable contributions to teaching and to mathematical topology,” Sundaram said. “The purpose of this movement’s not to destroy his legacy in that respect. It’s to just say that we don’t need to be honoring people who did abhorrent things just because they did a few things that were good for society.”
Sarah Boatwright, a Plan II and sustainability studies junior, helps Sundaram with Malcolm Over Moore and said the outlandish nature of the campaign is its driving force.
“I think emphasizing the absurdity of this campaign, the absurdity of renaming a building after a fictional character, hopefully will resonate with some students,” Boatwright said. “Hopefully, they’ll have the same process of thought that I did where it’s like if this fictional character has some better values and better morals guiding his decision-making process than this guy that a building is named after, then we have … some serious changes to make.”
Despite this absurdity, Sundaram said he’d love to see the building renamed after Malcolm but would also be pleased if the building were renamed after a real UT-associated person.
“(‘Jurassic Park’) made science cool, and it made something that people wanted to be interested in,” Sundaram said. “That was the first time that people … saw dinosaurs come to life, and that can inspire people in a way that, in my personal opinion, Dr. Moore never did.”
Zoe De Beurs, Natural Sciences Council outreach coordinator, said the council supports a name change, though she finds issue with Malcolm Over Moore.
“I think their overall purpose of drawing more attention to it by doing something slightly ridiculous has good intentions,” said De Beurs, a physics and astronomy junior. “I just think that it’s not necessarily the most effective way of communicating that we want a name change and that the current name does not represent the values of the physics, math, astronomy (departments) and just students as a whole.”
Sundaram said he hopes Malcolm Over Moore can move the Board of Regents to action and help reignite other campaigns, such as the movement to rename the building PMA for Physics, Math and Astronomy.
“The thesis behind why they (named) RLM what they named it … is a preservation of opposition to civil rights in some regard, and that’s … the reason we don’t think that’s OK, and … we just (want) to bring Ian Malcolm home,” Sundaram said.