For Subscribers: Cal State San Marcos to Remove Founder's Name from Building for Comment Deemed Racist (2023)


There was a moment 30 years ago at Cal State San Marcos when many people looked at the school's inaugural building and wondered, "Should we really name it after our founder, Bill Craven?"

They thought of the Republican state senator from Oceanside, who had worked to raise the money and support needed to give northern San Diego County something it so desperately wanted: its own university.

But in 1993, Craven angered many when he said that migrant workers were "perhaps for one reason or another on the lowest scale of humanity". He also appeared to be targeting Latinos amid a proposal to require Californians to carry state identification documents to prove they are legal residents.

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Angry faculty leaders urged school officials to drop the idea of ​​naming the building after Craven. Administrators said no. They didn't want to alienate him. And some thought the controversy would just pass.

That's not how it happened.

In light of the changing times nationally, Cal State San Marcos recently requested permission to clear Craven's name. On Wednesday, the California State University board of trustees gave the green light, largely without discussion.

For Subscribers: Cal State San Marcos to Remove Founder's Name from Building for Comment Deemed Racist (1)

California Senator Bill Craven died in 1999 at the age of 78.

(San Diego Union-Tribune)

It did not end years of arguments and resentments.

Many educators say the decision is a step towards creating a more welcoming environment at a school where enrollment is now more than 50% Latino.

"Senator Craven has done an incredible job for which we are very grateful, myself included," said Elizabeth Matthews, professor of political science. "I have this job because this campus is here... [But] that was the decision that had to be made."

Ken Lounsbery, an Escondido attorney who was a friend of the late senator for many years, sees this as an unfounded and spiteful act of political correctness.

“Calling Bill Craven a racist or a white supremacist is defamatory,” Lounsbery said. "He wasn't prejudiced.

“In the closed field of the academy, it is an advantage to win such a battle. And it's easy to hit a dead man."

correct incorrect

Cal State San Marcos did not go into the unknown in 2021, when the college's senate made a new effort to remove Craven's name from its administrative building, which houses the majority of student services.

Many schools have double-checked in recent years that the words and actions of the people whose names appear on their buildings are socially acceptable. In many cases, the answer was no.

Harvard removed the name of Carter Glass, a former US Treasury Secretary who supported racist election laws. Fresno State withdrew the name of Henry Madden, a Nazi sympathizer.

This intense period of introspection was fueled by many things, including the Black Lives Matter movement, the country's culture wars, social media, and the rise of Generation Z, the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in history. They fill schools from coast to coast.

The college senate relegated the Blessed Mother to a relative newcomer,Ellen Neufeldt, who became president of the school in 2019.

she asked for onework groupfrom faculty, students, alumni, staff, and community members to delve into Craven's political life, particularly in the early 1990s, when a deep recession and heavy immigration generated much hostility toward immigrants in California.

"I didn't have any outcome in mind," Neufeldt told the Union-Tribune. "Actually, it was new enough that I really needed to understand myself more."

The working group launched itsreportMid-January. Parts of the study characterize Craven as a racist. He also recommends that his name be removed from the building.

street politicians

A native of Philadelphia, Craven earned a degree in economics from Villanova University before enlisting in the Marine Corps during World War II. He fought on Iwo Jima, a battle that killed nearly 7,000 Marines. He was also on active duty during the Korean War.

She then moved around and took jobs that benefited from her ability to communicate with people and remember their names. She has worked in radio, public relations, press and distribution.

His travels eventually took him to Oceanside, where he joined the Planning Commission, his springboard to a long career in government and politics. He served as manager of the city of San Marcos and as a member of the County Board of Supervisors before winning elections to the State Assembly and then the State Senate. He died in 1999, aged 78.

Craven was a fiercely independent moderate Republican who believed in bipartisanship and regularly supported bills introduced by Democrats. He supported rent control, which was anathema to Republicans.

Craven constantly toured his Senate district in northern San Diego County, serving the interests of the people. This led him on a long quest to convince the state to set up a university in the region. 1978 the statei give youenough money to open a branch of San Diego State University in Vista. Satellite became an independent school with its formal incorporation as Cal State San Marcos in 1989.

For Subscribers: Cal State San Marcos to Remove Founder's Name from Building for Comment Deemed Racist (2)

Students exit Landmark Hall at Cal State San Marcos.

(KC Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)

migrant reaction

The university's first students enrolled in the fall of 1990, when the state's unemployment rate was 6.1%. Two years later, it would rise to 9.8%. The recession came as immigration soared, triggering a political backlash.Proposal 187, which would have prevented undocumented immigrants from accessing social services and public education. It was adopted by California voters in 1994 and later declared unconstitutional.

Craven was an important political player during this period. His work included chairing a Committee on Legislative Boundaries that commissioned a study on the financial impact of undocumented immigrants in San Diego County. As a working groupreportnotes that he soon proposed that each county and city school district conduct a count of suspected undocumented immigrants who used public services.

Some people saw this as racist. Craven disagreed, saying he was trying to make the region eligible for more federal funding.

His comments about the humanity of migrants were not so easy to explain.

The incident occurred on February 5, 1993, during a Senate hearing on the legal status of children in San Diego County school districts. According to a transcript of the meeting, Craven said:

“There will be a lot of people who won't agree with what I'm going to say and it's just a thought I had. It's not philosophy.

"It seems very strange that we strive to care for the rights of these people who, perhaps for one reason or another, are on the lowest scale of our humanity and we spend a lot of time and, of course, a lot of money, to worry the people who pay the bill. to care for the people the law seems to favor. Is that correct? Well, maybe I shouldn't ask that..." (Concerning aaudience video., comments are 1 hour and 27 minutes long.)

Craven was once again accused of racism. He replied that he was only referring to the "economic state" of undocumented immigrants.

Video adds context

Carleen Kreider, a Rancho Santa Fe executive, knew little about the historic controversy when she joined the task force and initially thought, "We're probably making this too big."

This changed when the group discovered a videotape of Craven making his remarks.

They "heard the words in context, not just that sentence," Kreider said. “Forty minutes [of tape] before and forty minutes after. I have a really bad stomach."

It was also a turning point for Merryl Goldberg, a professor of music at Cal State San Marcos and a member of the task force.

"It was a slap in the face for me," Goldberg said. "I was really thinking, 'What do we do when this kind of rhetoric comes out?'

One of the relatively few people who publicly sided with Craven last week was Tricia Craven Worley of San Diego, daughter of the late senator.

She told CSU members during a Tuesday hearing that her father "was a state and city official with many notable accomplishments, most notably at Cal State San Marcos."

"His mission was to bring higher education to the underprivileged in North County," he said. “Today's student body, more than 50% Hispanic, demonstrates the fulfillment of that vision.

"The caustic insults against him are based on a statement taken out of context 30 years ago. What the Task Force asserts is not fact and is not true...

"Didn't you ever say something you wish you had said differently?"

For Subscribers: Cal State San Marcos to Remove Founder's Name from Building for Comment Deemed Racist (3)

Cal State San Marcos has grown rapidly in recent years, with an enrollment of 16,000.

(Howard Lipin / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Some of this heartbreak could have been avoided if Craven had met with the faculty in 1993 and apologized for his words. He has addressed his concerns in statements and to reporters. But he never sat down with the faculty to discuss the matter.

“A lot of people said [to the task force], look at this man's character, look at all the good things he's done,” Kreider said. "But why couldn't he apologize? For me, that was really a problem."

President Neufeldt says the next steps will determine exactly when Craven's name will be removed from the building, where a bust of the senator will be placed and what the building will be called in the future. An exact date for all this has yet to be set.

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