UC Hastings is history as law school drops controversial namesake

  • It will become the University of California College of the Law, San Francisco
  • Founder Hastings ordered the killing of Native Americans

(Reuters) – The Hastings College of the Law at the University of California is set to become the College of the Law at the University of California, San Francisco early next year.

The law school’s board of trustees on Wednesday unanimously approved the new name, which eliminates any reference to Serranus Hastings, a former California Supreme Court justice who founded the law school in 1878.

Historians say Hastings orchestrated the killings of Native Americans in order to evict them from the ranch land he purchased in Northern California.

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The California Legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom have yet to approve the new name, which will become official in January 2023.

“It best embodies the core identity of the college and is the overwhelming preference of students, staff, faculty and alumni,” Dean of Law David Faigman said of the name change in a message Wednesday to the school community.

Faigman said the school sought input from students, staff, faculty and alumni, as well as the Round Valley Indian Tribe and its Yuki Committee, the tribe targeted by Hastings. A total of 78% of the letters received by the school supported a name change.

Although the board has ignored calls from some to adopt a Yuki name, it is open to giving “prominent” campus space, like the library, a Native American name, Faigman wrote.

Less than three miles from Hastings is the private law school of the University of San Francisco. Dean at Law Susan Freiwald did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday about whether she had any concerns about the similarities between the names.

The University of Houston, which has a law school, sued South Texas College of Law in 2016 for trademark infringement when it sought to rename itself Houston College of Law. The parties have agreed to the adoption of the name South Texas College of Law Houston.

Hastings’ name has been a source of debate since 2017, when assistant law school professor John Briscoe detailed actions against Native Americans in an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle. Serranus Hastings promoted and financed “Indian hunting raids” that killed at least 283 men, women and children in the 1850s, according to Benjamin Madley, a history professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Read more:

UC Hastings Law to change name after outcry over namesake

UC Hastings Law, whose namesake is linked to the murders, will choose a new name by July

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