A new Renaming Principles Committee, tasked with creating guidelines for the renaming of campus buildings and sites, was appointed by University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne earlier this month. The committee will be be chaired by Paul Brest, professor emeritus at Stanford Law School.
After repeated delays, a committee assembled by the University in early 2016 to establish principles for renaming campus buildings and landmarks expects to release its conclusions by the end of fall quarter.
It has been difficult figuring out how my perspective fits into the Junípero Serra renaming argument or how valid others will consider my opinion to be. As someone whose identity is strongly rooted in her Native culture but does not fit society’s preconceived notions of what indigeneity looks like, I always wonder how much of an impact my words will have on the ideas of my peers. But now I think it is time for me to speak.
The most significant observation in Sarah Wishingrad’s March 4 article about efforts to expunge Junípero Serra’s name from various campus sites was made by people on both sides of the controversy: that there is insufficient knowledge or education about Father Serra on the Stanford campus. Anyone who examines the serious scholarship on this man will learn that he was in fact an advocate for and protector of the Native Americans of his time, against the violent abuses directed toward them by the Spanish colonizers. Those who contend, as Stanford Review editor-in-chief Harry Elliot notes, that “even outside of the context of his time, he was ultimately a beneficial figure,” are exactly right. In anticipation of St. Junípero’s canonization by Pope Francis last September, Catholic League President Dr. William Donohue thoroughly researched that scholarship and compiled his findings into a booklet, “The Noble Legacy of Father Serra.” It can be accessed at the Catholic League website, www.catholicleague.org.