SAN MARCOS — Faculty representatives at California State University at San Marcos (CSUSM) voted Wednesday to begin the process of cutting school ties with the controversial late State Senator William A. Craven, including renaming buildings and streets, and removing his bust monument from campus.
The university’s Academic Senate voted 56-2-2 in favor of removing any signs of Craven, known for his reportedly anti-immigrant and white supremacist ideologies, from the school grounds. It is unclear which senators supported or opposed the motion as the voting system is anonymous.
The resolution, which was proposed by University without Borders collectively, called for the renaming of Craven Hall, Craven Circle and Craven Road and the removal of the bust of William Craven from the campus.
“To continue its commitment to racial inclusion, and to advance its vital work to promote diversity, racial and social justice in meaningful ways, CSUSM should make the effort now to eliminate from the campus symbols that honor individuals who advocated nativism and white supremacy, in particular, the former California State Senator William A. Craven,” said the proposal.
Craven’s reported comments date back to as early as 1991 when he spearheaded an attempt to learn the financial impact that undocumented immigrants have on schools and public agencies in San Diego County.
The Oceanside Republican, whose early political career included a seat on the County Board of Supervisors, wrote to every school district and city in the county and to county officials, asking them to do a headcount of suspected undocumented immigrants who use public services.
In March of 1993, Craven also came under fire for reportedly stating in the San Diego Union-Tribune that migrant workers were on a lower scale of humanity.
In October of 1994, he advocated for the state legislature’s exploration of requiring all Latinx residents to carry ID cards to prove citizenship.
Craven is quoted in the San Diego Union-Tribune as saying, “I think basically when people talk about it, they’re thinking of what I would have to say in a sort of an encompassing sense (is about) Hispanics.”
“As a Chicano, as a former undocumented immigrant with no citizenship status, it’s very disturbing to see that our university has held and embraced this image and this person for many years, without taking into account the community,” said Dr. Xuan Santos, an associate professor at CSUSM. “We have a senator that really believed that we need to treat other people with indifference, that some people were subhuman and didn’t deserve equal protections like everybody else in a country, that’s about freedom, in a country that is about love, respect and understanding.”
According to Margaret Chantung, CSUSM’s chief communications officer, as a next step, University President Ellen Neufeldt will be charging a workgroup to examine the legacy of the late Sen. William Craven.
“The workgroup will allow for a deliberative and reconciliatory process that will bring members of our community together so that diverse voices and perspectives may be heard. These are the difficult moments that we must contend with – but as a university it’s vital that we model a way of engaging with each other where we ask difficult questions and have the courage to work together to answer them, modeling the respectful, civil dialogue that we expect our students to champion as tomorrow’s leaders,” Chantung said.
This isn’t the first time CSUSM’s Academic Senate has voted on this issue. Back in 1994, they unanimously approved this exact same motion.
At that meeting, however, a letter by then university president Dr. Bill Stacy was read in which he stated, “I have decided against proposing or advocating the renaming of Craven Hall. Sen. Craven has made enormous historical contributions to the founding of CSUSM.”
In the statement, Stacy explained that the naming of Craven Hall does not establish Craven as a spokesman for the university, nor does it imply that the university agrees or disagrees with his views on this or any other issue.
Stacy’s belief also served as the focal point for the Associated Student’s vote, which was 4-3 against the initiative. Dr. Michelle Ramos Pellicia, an associate professor at CSUSM, told The Coast News that this vote is just the beginning. Next will be discussions about how this might happen, including discussions with the City of San Marcos, CSUSM’s chancellor’s office and the board of trustees.
“Hopefully with all of us showing up at the Academic Senate level… this sends a clear message, and we are not going to rest on our morals because we know that there are people who are pushing against us and against the idea of removal and renaming,” said Dr. Michelle Ramos Pellicia, an associate professor at CSUSM.