No matter how many signatures an online petition receives to name an Eastern Kentucky University dorm after the slain Cincinnati Zoo gorilla Harambe, school officials say it ape going to happen.
University spokeswoman Kristi Middleton encouraged students to support causes they are passionate about and explained how buildings are named after someone who has donated a gift to the school or contributed to it in a substantial way.
“We do not have a precedent on having a building named after an animal,” Middleton said.
Harambe was killed by a zoo worker on May 28 after a 3-year-old boy fell into his inclosure. The animal’s death sent the Internet into feigned and genuine hysteria. Harambe’s photo spawned clothing items, original artwork and a tattoo. The social media jokes and negativity around Harambe’s death got so loud that the Cincinnati Zoo deleted its Twitter account Monday.
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The student behind the petition is the managing editor of the satirical Twitter account @EasternOnion. The account was started in August 2015 and generally pokes fun at things like parking and EKU’s emergency alert system. The account advocated adding the name to an unnamed dorm between Kit Carson Drive and Brockton parking lot.
The effort was a joke that unexpectedly turned into more, according to the @EasternOnion managing editor.
The last building named on campus was after the school’s 12th president, Dr. Doug Whitlock, who retired in the fall of 2013. Whitlock Building houses the office of admissions, residential life and financial aid.
As of about 1 p.m. Thursday, the Change.org petition has 572 of the 1,000 signatures needed to deliver it to EKU president Michael Benson.
The @EasternOnion managing editor was part of an effort last year to name an EKU building after Richmond Police Officer Daniel Ellis, 33. Ellis was killed on Nov. 4, 2015, while investigating an attempted robbery. Ellis was an EKU alumnus.
EKU did not name a building after Ellis. The city instead renamed a portion of Main Street in Richmond in his honor.