Stanford to Set Principles for Renaming Buildings

March 7, 2016

Stanford University on Friday announced that it will create a panel to draft guidelines for how to consider renaming buildings and other spaces that honor those with imperfect (and worse) histories. The university created the panel amid a push from many students to rename several structures named for Junipero Serra (right), an 18th-century Roman Catholic priest who created missions throughout California. While Serra is considered a hero by many and was declared a saint by Pope Francis last year, many Native Americans contend that Serra worked to destroy the cultures and beliefs of those who were in California before the missionaries.

Stanford officials said that they wanted to consider the requests related to Serra, but to do so under principles that might be applied to other situations as well. A statement from Provost John Etchemendy noted that Stanford's founders named many structures after people involved in early California history. "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."

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