Report recommends renaming for ‘people of all genders and ethnicities’
Stanford University will remove Father Junipero Serra’s name from several high-profile campus features after a committee determined it would be the right thing to do, citing “the mission system’s violence against California Native Americans.”
St. Junipero Serra was a hugely influential Catholic priest who helped found the California mission system. This was arguably his most significant accomplishment. But according to the committee, made up of faculty, students, staff and alumni, it is also his biggest sin, according to the report.
The committee had evaluated Serra’s position on campus alongside his prominent role in the California missionary system and the treatment of Native Americans by missionaries. Published August 18, the report pointed to Stanford’s goal of “full inclusion of people of all backgrounds and perspectives” at the university.
“Because the mission system’s violence against California Native Americans is part of the history and memory of current members of the community, we believe that features named for Junipero Serra, who was the architect and leader of the mission system, are in tension with this goal of full inclusion,” it stated.
However, the report also recommended that other features on campus named for Spanish missionaries be spared. Why single out Serra? “Junipero Serra has a unique role and stature as the founder and leader of the mission movement,” the report stated.
“For this reason and to avoid minimizing the role of the mission movement in Stanford’s founding history, we recommend that, absent the discovery of major new evidence about a particular individual’s misconduct, these other named features should not be subject to renaming.”
According to a press release put out by the school on September 13, Stanford will rename some campus features currently named after Serra, but will keep Serra Street.
Serra Mall, which the school’s website describes as the pedestrian and bicycle mall at the front of the campus, will be renamed “Jane Stanford Way.” The mall also serves as the university’s mailing address. Campus officials will also rename the Serra dormitory, as well as Serra House, which houses the Clayman Institute for Gender Research.
It is undetermined what the university will rename the building and dorm. However, the report recommends considering “people of all genders and ethnicities, including Native Americans and people of color.”
To make its decision, the committee consulted “various groups of students, staff, and alumni: Native Americans, Latinx, Roman Catholics, and current and former residents of Serra House within Stern Hall.” According to a FAQ form on Stanford’s website, the renaming process began in 2016 with a committee that formed to develop principles for renaming campus features.
The two major political groups on campus appear not to have been consulted. The College Republicans confirmed that they had not been consulted to The College Fix.
In a Facebook post, the group blasted the decision as “ham-handed and cowardly.”
“Contrary to the inaccurate narrative put forth by some on campus, St. Serra protected Native Californians from abuse by Spanish soldiers stationed in California and provided for their education,” the statement read. It concluded that the decision “was a cowardly act of submission to entitled leftist cry-bullies and an insult to Catholics.”
The Stanford College Democrats did not respond to an email request for comment.
The university did not respond to multiple email requests for comment asking about new educational programs and displays, and reactions of on-campus groups.
The university’s Catholic community also did not respond to a request for comment through a contact form on its website.
Serra’s name made headlines in late 2015 when a coalition of students at the University of San Diego — a private, Catholic institution — demanded Serra’s name be removed from a campus building. The coalition also demanded the school’s administrators denounce Serra as “a mass murderer with a ‘colonialist legacy.’”