Faculty, Students Organize to Rewrite the Legacy of White Supremacy on our Campuses
At last week’s Spring Assembly, CFA members overwhelmingly supported the resolution in Support of Renaming of Buildings, Roadways, Classrooms, and Removal of Iconography that Memorialize White Supremacy on our Campuses.
The resolution comes because of concern for our students, faculty, and staff who are undocumented, members of mixed-status families, formerly incarcerated, Brown, Black, Asian and Pacific Islanders, and traditional Native nations of the Western Hemisphere. And it is part of the anti-colonial, racial, and social work we do as a faculty labor union.
CSU San Marcos President Ellen Neufeldt charged a taskforce to consult on the renaming of the Craven administrative building. Ironically, the building houses the Dreamer Resource Office, the College Assistant Migrant Program, and the Educational Opportunity Program. CSU San Marcos is designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution.
The building memorializes William Craven, a former California state senator who played a role in establishing the San Marcos campus. Craven is a well-known white supremacist in BIPOC and progressive communities. As the chairperson of the Legislature’s Special Committee on Border Issues, he called for a head count of undocumented residents for their financial impact on schools and public agencies like hospitals and trauma centers. He advocated for schools and healthcare facilities to turn in students and the children of undocumented workers. He also suggested that if we look like we come from Oaxaca, Mexico, we should carry an ID to prove that we don’t. According to the Los Angeles Times, he further described migrant and immigrant workers as “perhaps on the low scale of humanity, for one reason or another.”
Last academic year, the CSU San Marcos Academic Senate supported a resolution to rename this administrative building, thus leading to the current taskforce. However, this is not the first time the university community expressed support for the name change. When the then-state-senator was targeting the undocumented residents of our state, there was an outcry across the San Marcos campus. Faculty, staff, and students called for the removal of a bust of Craven and his name from the building and the roadways on campus. Academic Senate members passed a resolution in 1994; students, faculty, and staff protested. Then-President Stacy refused to honor the will of the faculty. Faculty and staff faced retaliation. The administration threatened faculty with denial of tenure.
“Faculty had it right in 1994; faculty have spoken again. We want to honor the dignity and humanity of our community members wounded by the racism of the former state senator’s words and positions. In the spirit of being truly ‘Hispanic serving,’ responsive to Latinx and other BIPOC students, faculty, and staff, we demand the renaming of the administrative building and removal of Craven’s bust,” said Michelle Ramos-Pellicia, CFA San Marcos president and CSU San Marcos modern language studies and Hispanic sociolinguistics associate professor who is co-organizing the renaming effort.
As a Hispanic Serving Institution with 47 percent of its student population self-identifying as Hispanic or Latinx according to Fall 2020 campus data, instead of Craven, we should be honoring the Payómkawichum/Luiseño and Kumeyaay, the California Native Nations whose land our campus occupies.
We want to implement these changes to collectively dismantle settler colonialism and structural and institutionalized racism.
This is a moment of racial reckoning. This is a call for racial justice and the removal of monuments that celebrate white supremacy. This is the moment to decolonize our campuses.
So far, more than 400 people have signed a petition calling for the renaming of the administrative building on the CSU San Marcos campus. Please join us by signing the petition here.