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University to expedite Jordan Hall renaming request and removal of Louis Agassiz statue

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The University has expedited review of requests for the Jordan Hall renaming and the removal of the Louis Agassiz statue above the Hall’s entrance in light of “a heightened sense of urgency to tackling issues of racial justice both in our country and on our campus,” wrote President Marc Tessier-Lavigne in a press release Monday. The Hall was named after eugenicist and founding Stanford president David Starr Jordan; Agassiz was his mentor.

The committee will be led by Stanford Law professor Bernadette Meyler J.D. ’03 alongside Peter Chen ’80, Diane T. Chin, Ari Y. Kelman, Ato Quayson and Vaughn Williams J.D. ’69. Additionally, the University has called on the ASSU Nominations Committee, composed of first-year law student Sarah Mitchell, Kristin Wilson ’16, Vanessa Campos ’19, and Gabriela Nagle-Alverio ’18, to nominate one undergraduate and one graduate commissioner to the committee.

The request was first filed by the Stanford Eugenics History Project in contempt for founding president Jordan’s support for the practice of eugenics and his ties with polygenetics through his mentor, Agassiz. He is most known for a racist 1899 essay published in the American quarterly magazine Popular Science and delivered at Stanford that expands on the ideas of racial purity and defends racial segregation.

In late April, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) too advocated for the renaming of Jordan Hall. This type of widespread support encouraged the committee to set up an open forum in which people can discuss the renaming over a virtual format, although they may also provide comments through [email protected] 

“The committee will apply principles adopted in 2018 to evaluate requests for renaming campus features and will develop an approach for applying the principles to the request for the removal of the statue,” the University wrote. The principles were created in response to campus calls for the renaming of Serra Mall — formerly named after Father Junipero Serra who drew sharp criticism for his mistreatment of Native Americans — which has since been renamed Jane Stanford Way after the University’s co-founder. 

Campus community took steps to call for the removal of the legacy of Father Junipero Serra, including a resolution passed by the ASSU and a march called Walk to Rename, in which Native students and their allies marched in protest of Serra Mall. 

In 2019 — three years after the ASSU had passed the resolution — the University renamed Serra House and the undergraduate dorm Serra. Serra House, the home of the Clayman Institute of Gender Research, was renamed after Carolyn Lewis Attneave M.A. ’47 Ph.D. ’52, a psychologist who advanced the field of Native American mental health. The undergraduate residence was renamed Sally Ride House after Sally Ride ’73 M.S. ’75 Ph.D. ’78, the first American woman in space. 

Meanwhile, beyond just the renaming of Jordan Hall, Bernadette Meyler remains hopeful for enacting further changes through the committee. 

“We will also be examining the range of approaches other institutions have adopted in generating our recommendation around monument removal requests,” she said.  

Contact Julie Ham at julieham03 ‘at’ and Bianca Layog at biancalayog ‘at’

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Bianca Layog is a high schooler writing as part of The Daily’s Summer Journalism Workshop.
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Julie Ham is a high schooler writing as part of The Daily’s Summer Journalism Workshop.