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The Craven Taskforce was created by university administrators in 2021 following the Faculty Senate’s recommendation to rename campus sites and monuments named after the late state senator Willam Craven. Courtesy photo
The Craven Taskforce was created by university administrators in 2021 following the Faculty Senate’s recommendation to rename campus sites and monuments named after the late state senator Willam Craven. Courtesy photo
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CSUSM task force recommends renaming Craven Hall

SAN MARCOS — A Cal State San Marcos task force has issued a long-anticipated recommendation to rename a prominent campus building named after the late state senator William A. Craven, the university announced Friday.

The Craven Taskforce’s recommendation to rename Craven Hall will go to the CSU board of trustees for final approval at its Jan. 24-25 meeting. A full report outlining the task force’s decision process was also released Friday.

University administrators created the task force in 2021 following the CSUSM Faculty Senate’s recommendation to rename Craven Hall and other campus sites and monuments with the former San Diego County supervisor’s name.

Task force members were charged with examining the university’s complicated relationship with Craven, who has been criticized for his inflammatory statements regarding Hispanic and undocumented persons as far back as the 90s.

After 18 months of deliberation, the majority of task force members were in favor of renaming Craven Hall, as well as contextualizing Craven’s contributions to the college in a new way on campus. CSUSM President Dr. Ellen Neufeldt stated her support for the task force recommendations and said the final decision now rests with the university system’s directing board.  

“While the late Sen. Craven will always be known and appreciated for his founding role here at CSUSM, I am moving forward the task force’s well-deliberated recommendation to rename Craven Hall to the CSU board of trustees for its consideration,” Neufeldt said. “Should the Board of Trustees approve the recommended name change, we will continue to remember Sen. Craven’s legacy in another way on campus.”

Craven Hall
Craven Hall, CSUSM’s administration building, is named after the controversial late State Sen. William A. Craven. Photo courtesy of CSUSM

Craven’s reported comments date back to 1991, when he called on every school district, city, hospital and trauma center in San Diego County and county officials to provide a headcount of suspected undocumented residents who use public services as part of a Senate discussion around the local costs of undocumented immigrants.

In March of 1993, Craven also reportedly stated in the San Diego Union-Tribune that migrant workers were on a lower scale of humanity, which he later said was referring to their socioeconomic status.  

In October of 1994, he advocated for the state legislature’s exploration of requiring all Hispanic residents to carry ID cards to prove citizenship.

Task force co-chairs Dr. Elizabeth Matthews and Dr. Patricia Prado-Olmos, both university professors, explained these statements. Craven’s refusal to apologize for the harm they caused is at odds with the university’s mission of acceptance and equity.

“While acknowledging the outstanding legacy of the late Sen. Craven, which has touched thousands of lives and communities, the task force overwhelmingly found that his anti-immigrant and anti-Latinx statements and actions in the early 1990s, along with his unwillingness to apologize or seek understanding of the harm he caused individuals and populations connected to CSUSM, do not align with the mission, vision and values of CSUSM today and the students we serve,” Matthews and Prado-Olmos said.

Despite his controversial statements, school officials have long recognized Craven as the “father of CSUSM” for his tireless efforts to secure support and funding to establish a new university in North County. He is credited with helping to found the university, which opened in San Marcos in 1989.

The Craven Task Force was composed of 24 members, a mix of students, faculty, staff, alums and community members, who participated in listening sessions with various groups and reviewed hundreds of historical documents. 

According to the task force report, these listening sessions included individuals who were part of the first push to remove Craven’s name on campus buildings back in 1994, as well as Craven’s family, close friends, and the broader campus community.

Some students interviewed by the task force noted that seeing Craven’s name on the building made them feel “unwelcome and unsafe.” In addition, task force members noted that retaining his name runs counter to the goals of the university as a Hispanic Serving Institution and that “if the University is going to continue to espouse ideas of inclusive excellence and uphold the meaning of a Hispanic Serving Institution, the name must be changed.”

While not all task force or community members agreed with the final recommendation, it marks a huge step forward for those who have spent years voicing their concerns about the university’s celebration of Craven. 

The school’s faculty senate first voted to rename Craven Hall in 1994, which ultimately failed due to a lack of support. Then-president Dr. Bill Stacy stated that the former senator “made enormous historical contributions to the founding of CSUSM” and argued that having his name on a building did not mean the university aligned with any of his views. 

Craven, who died in 1999 at the age of 78, first came to San Diego County after moving to Oceanside following an accomplished military career. He served in local government in Oceanside and San Marcos before being elected to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in 1970.

He was elected to the California State Assembly in 1973 before jumping over to the State Senate, where he served for 20 years.

The Jan. 23-24 meeting of the CSU Board of Directors will be live-streamed on their website, calstate.edu/csu-system/board-of-trustees

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