UC Hastings law school board votes to change name

The board of a San Francisco law school founded by a 19th century rancher who sponsored deadly atrocities against Native Americans is recommending that it change its name to the College of the Law San Francisco.

The board of directors for UC Hastings College of the Law voted Wednesday to make the recommendation to state lawmakers, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The college name is enshrined in state law and cannot be changed without legislative action.

Hastings counts among its graduates major movers and shakers, including former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris.

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But it was also founded in 1878 by Serranus Clinton Hastings, a wealthy rancher and former chief justice of the California Supreme Court who helped orchestrate and finance campaigns by white settlers in Mendocino County to kill and enslave members of the Yuki Indian tribe.

The recommendation comes amid strong objections from descendants of Yuki and Round Valley tribal members who hoped for an indigenous name, the Chronicle reported.

The school began to investigate its founder’s legacy in 2017 and the board voted in November to change the school’s name. It is also working on "restorative justice" initiatives, including a formal apology.

In 2020, the law school at the University of California, Berkeley stripped itself of a 19th century namesake who espoused racist views that led to the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act.