Cabrillo College President Matt Wetstein addresses a June meeting on renaming the school
Cabrillo College President Matt Wetstein (right) addresses a June meeting at which a shortlist of possible new names for the school was presented to community members.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Opinion from Community Voices

Keep the Cabrillo name: Voting for a project underfunded by $500,000 is ‘irresponsible at best’

Rosemary Anderson has “lost all trust” with the current Cabrillo College board of trustees over the handling of the school’s proposed name change. I “would not donate one of my hard-earned dollars to an institution that no longer reflects the community at large,” writes the Watsonville resident who credits Cabrillo with helping her go back to school after she had kids and who continues to take extension classes today. She wants to see polls and other “proof” of the alleged strong community support for the change.

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Lookout’s recent article on the Cabrillo College renaming debacle highlights opinions of the current Cabrillo board of trustees that should concern us all.

I take particular offense at the statements by board chair Adam Spickler (whom I happen to respect). At the July 10 meeting, according to Lookout, Spickler insisted that outspoken opponents of the name change don’t represent the entire community’s views on the issue.

He pointed to the large number of submissions to the Santa Cruz Sentinel rallying against the name change and said, “Older white folks who are Sentinel subscribers do not make up the majority of our county. They think they do. They absolutely think they do. They are a loud voice. And I have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of friends in the community who are also reaching out to me [saying], ‘Please do not stop this process. Please do not let that voice win.’”

This view is overtly prejudicial and anecdotal.

It also does not consider that when community members were polled, they overwhelmingly disagreed with the name change. Trustee J. Dan Rothwell agreed with Spickler and suggested that “the board could assist people who support the name change to submit opinions to local media.’”

Really? Are we going to continue this division with more media fighting?

I do not subscribe to the Sentinel, and the only social media platforms I (somewhat) follow are Nextdoor and Instagram. A majority of people on both these platforms voice strong opposition to the name change.

Where is the hard formulaic data tabulated from community survey results and public forums held thus far? Where is the actual data documenting the “hundreds and hundreds and hundreds” in the community who want to change the name?

Christina Cuevas, a Cabrillo trustee since 2014 and chair of the Name Exploration Subcommittee and Name Selection Task Force, appropriately voices concern about future donors.

Speaking for myself, I have lost all trust with the current board over the handling of this issue, and, though I have donated before, I would not donate one of my hard-earned dollars to an institution that no longer reflects the community at large.

Voting to move ahead with a project that is grossly underfunded by more than $500,000 is irresponsible at best.

Whether the money comes from private donations or not (interesting to note the $2,500 donated thus far does not reflect much financial commitment from the aforementioned hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of supporters), it could be better utilized. For instance, it could improve access to education for all or to fund a local history course on the Native Americans who lived, farmed and respected the land long before it was shamelessly taken from them. We could also give some of that money in reparation to the tribes who once lived on the land.

Cabrillo board trustees are elected by their respective districts; what are their constituents telling them?

I, for one, have made my opinion known to my area trustee (although said trustee is not open to hearing opposing opinions on this matter).

Rosemary Anderson is against changing Cabrillo College's name.
(Via Rosemary Anderson)

Will the current trustees even be in office when all this damage has been done?

Cabrillo’s 2021-22 goals for the board and superintendent/president state: “Promote policies, practices and activities that make the college’s staff, faculty and managers more reflective of the diverse community served by the college and prepare them for excellent delivery of services and instruction, including culturally relevant teaching and service.”

How does this mono-focused renaming issue fit with this and other goals outlined for the board?

In the words of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Annette Gordon-Reed on researching and living-America’s history: “I just don’t think we can excise the parts [of history] that are less than favorable, because they helped make us who we are today.”

Changing the name is not only shamelessly expensive, it does nothing to change or learn from history.

Rosemary Anderson recently retired after spending her professional career in public service roles, including 23 years in higher education. In the 1970s, Rosemary decided to go back to school to earn her degree when her two children were small. Cabrillo College played a crucial role in making the prerequisite classes available to her, a working student. She went on to earn her undergraduate and graduate degrees in the mid-1990s. She has lived, learned, worked and volunteered in the Santa Cruz County community since 1975. She lives in Watsonville.