COLUMBIA, Mo. — The University of Missouri has spent $20,000 to protect Thomas Jefferson’s original headstone, which sits on the Columbia campus.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the university spent that money on a large acrylic case which now surrounds the monument.
The move is in response to vandalism concerns amid an ongoing dispute about whether the university should honor the third president who also was a slave owner.
Earlier this year, students organized a petition to remove a statue of Jefferson from Francis Quadrangle. The petition gathered more than 3,300 signatures out of the nearly 30,000 enrolled as of fall 2019. UM System President Mun Choi met with university curators, administrators and student activists, but ultimately decided to not remove the statue.
“We learn from history. We contextualize historical figures with complex legacies. We don’t remove history,” Choi said at the time.
Roman Leapheart, who started the petition, said he would replace the statue with a unity bench.
“What people think is, ‘Oh, we want to tear down history, or we want to hurt our university.’ We’re doing this because we love our university,” Leapheart said at the time.
It’s unclear if there will be further discussion about vandalism at the headstone or the statue in the near future.