Stanford to establish principles for renaming streets and buildings

After establishing principles for reconsidering and renaming streets and buildings on campus, a committee composed of faculty, students and staff will apply the principles first to places that honor Junipero Serra. 

L.A. Cicero Provost John Etchemendy at the Faculty Senate.

Provost John Etchemendy addressing the Faculty Senate on Thursday.

President John Hennessy and Provost John Etchemendy will form a committee to establish principles for reconsidering and renaming campus streets and buildings, and to apply those principles "first and foremost" to places that honor Junipero Serra, whose mixed legacy as the founder of the mission network in California has raised concerns among students.

Etchemendy made the announcement at yesterday's Faculty Senate meeting.

He said David Kennedy, professor emeritus of history, has agreed to chair the committee, as yet unnamed, which will be composed of faculty, students and staff.

Etchemendy said the university's founders, Jane and Leland Stanford, and its first president, David Starr Jordan, named many campus streets and buildings after historical California figures.

"Not all of those names are names of people that have unblemished histories," Etchemendy said. "So we want to be able to apply the principles, not just to the Serra name but to other names to determine whether or not they should be changed."

Last month, the Undergraduate Senate and the Graduate Student Council of the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) passed resolutions requesting that the university rename streets and buildings currently bearing the name of Father Junipero Serra out of respect for the indigenous and Native American communities.

Following Etchemendy's announcement, the Faculty Senate unanimously approved a motion acknowledging the ASSU resolution; reaffirming the senate's support for Stanford's commitment to strengthening the life and identity of the Native American community on campus; and expressing its support for critically reflecting on Stanford's historical legacy, including the use of names of people who have been associated with it.

In addition to reviewing the names of campus buildings and sites, the senate motion suggested the committee could also review the names of "entities and activities" on campus.

In the motion, the senate pledged its support for the initiative, saying its Committee on Committees will identify faculty with relevant expertise and encourage them to take part.

The full minutes of the March 3 meeting, including the Q&A that followed the presentations, will be posted on the Faculty Senate website.