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New name for UC Hastings law college will be based on location, dean says

UC San Francisco College of the Law is at the top of the list of proposed names.|

Recent scrutiny of Serranus Hastings, who was the mastermind behind the massacre of a Native American tribe in Mendocino County, has put pressure on UC Hastings College of Law to strip his name from its place of honor.

But, what will the new name be?

“UC San Francisco College of the Law” is at the top of the list for the school’s board of directors, the school’s Dean and Chancellor David Faigman said in an interview with The Press Democrat.

The name is in keeping the rest of the University of California system, which names institutions for their locations, such as UC Berkeley and UC Los Angeles.

The college’s board of directors will meet the first week of January to move forward with an “urgency measure,” Faigman said.

An urgency measure would allow the name change to become effective immediately once it moves through the legislative process and is signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The other two options would include making the name change part of the school’s budget process, which would make the change official in July 2022. Using a non-urgent legislative bill would mean waiting until January 2023 at the earliest.

“Personally, I’m hoping for an urgency bill because I think this is something that institutionally, having the name of college settled sooner than later will benefit us, particularly students” Faigman said.

Faigman said he’s received dozens of ideas for a new name from students, alumni and staff, and he has received input from the board of directors that they prefer UC San Francisco College of the Law.

Other suggestions included naming the school after former associate justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court or Wiley Manuel of California’s Supreme Court, the first Black to serve on the high court.

“Our view, and I think the board’s view and University of California’s view, is that every University of California campus is designated by its locality,” Faigman said. “If we were to go back to 1878, when Hastings was founded and Serannus Hastings was not in the picture, it would have been UC College of Law at San Francisco.

“So, we would be, in some sense, returning to first principles,” he added.

The school hopes to work with the Round Valley Indian Tribes, a confederation of six tribes in northern Mendocino County, which includes the Yuki tribe, who were the targets of the massacre Hastings ordered in 1856.

Over 600 Yuki people were killed.

In hopes of addressing his wrongs, college officials have been meeting with the Round Valley Indian Tribal council since 2017 to work toward restorative justice efforts.

“We are talking to the tribal council and wanting to get their feedback,” Faigman said regarding the new name.

The Round Valley Indian Tribal Council members could not be reached.

However, members of the Yuki tribe feel they have not been given a voice in the matter.

“We don’t consider the name change an emergency,” said Mona Oandasan, a Yuki woman. “We don’t have a seat at the table.”

Faigman said he has been meeting with tribal council members who have the ability to speak with official capacity, and it’s up to them to invite the Yuki tribal members.

Many Yuki tribal members described their frustration at the fast-tracked name change and inability to attend meetings with the school.

“Let the Yuki people have a voice,” said Edwina Lincoln, a Yuki woman who lives on the Round Valley Indian Reservation in Covelo. “[The school is] coming in asking for forgiveness and a healing process, but none of that happened. I feel like our voices aren’t being heard.”

Edwina Lincoln, a member of the Yuki tribe in Covelo, Calif., on Tuesday, November 30, 2021. (Beth Schlanker/The Press Democrat)
Edwina Lincoln, a member of the Yuki tribe in Covelo, Calif., on Tuesday, November 30, 2021. (Beth Schlanker/The Press Democrat)

Lincoln has organized a public meeting with the Yuki people at noon Jan. 15 in Covelo at the Round Valley Indian Tribes headquarters at 77826 Covelo Road. in the Buffalo Room to discuss the college’s name change.

“We all need to come together,” she said. “Hastings needs to recognize that we’re not official government, but we need to be heard.”

You can reach Staff Writer Alana Minkler at 707-526-8511 or alana.minkler@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @alana_minkler.

Alana Minkler

Breaking news & general assignment reporter, The Press Democrat

The world is filled with stories that inspire compassion, wonder, laughs and even tears. As a Press Democrat reporter covering breaking news, tribes and youth, it’s my goal to give others a voice to share these stories.

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