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Law School Intends To Change Name Due To Founder’s Past

A California law school, named after a man who profited from the killing of Native Americans, is moving to change its name.

The University of California Hastings College of the Law announced this week that it will pursue a name change after its board of directors authorized the decision. UC Hastings was founded in 1878 by Serranus Hastings, a man who perpetrated genocidal acts against Native Californians in the 1850s in the Round and Eden valleys.

“UC Hastings has collaborated with the Yuki People and members of other affected tribes for the last four years in pursuit of restorative justice. The goal of our collaborations with the tribes is to bring the educational resources of the College to help address the generational trauma inflicted by Serranus Hastings,” Carl W. “Chip” Robertson, Chair of the Board of Directors, says in a press release. “That work has raised our awareness of the wrongs committed by the College’s namesake and the ongoing pain they cause, and our decision is that we can no longer associate our great institution with his name. With this vote, we authorize UC Hastings leadership to work in good faith with legislators and other stakeholders to change our school’s name. We know that some members of our community are attached to the school’s name because of the College’s wonderful 143-year history, unrelated to Serranus Hastings. But this change is a critical step in addressing our founder’s role in Native Californian genocide.”


In 2017, David Faigman, Chancellor and Dean of UC Hastings, commissioned a historian to conduct a thorough study investigating Serranus Hastings’ legacy. Faigman also established the Hastings Legacy Review Committee—and later—the Restorative Justice Advisory Board to recommend steps toward restorative justice.

UC Hastings has since implemented and established a number of restorative justice actions with members of pertinent tribes including: founding an Indigenous Law Center and related educational programs; exploring experiential educational opportunities for UC Hastings students and those of other UC campuses to provide pro bono assistance to residents of Round Valley; discussing educational opportunities for students of the Yuki People and other members of the Round Valley Indian Tribes; and creating a public memorial to the Yuki people in a prominent location on the UC Hastings campus.

“Four years ago, I initiated a robust process for engaging Native Californians whose tribes were affected by the deadly acts of Serranus Hastings,” Dean Faigman says. “The time has come to recognize that changing the College’s name is an important step in that process. I am committed to working diligently to do so.”

Sources: UC Hastings, The Hill

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