We asked you to vote on a new name for Cabrillo College; here are the results of our reader poll

cabrillo new logo
(Via Cabrillo College)

Last month, Lookout asked readers to weigh in with suggestions for Cabrillo College’s new name — selecting either from a multiple-choice list of names or submitting ideas of their own. Here’s a sampling of the responses.

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Cabrillo College became the latest institution to tackle a legacy of colonialism when its board of trustees voted in November to change the school’s name.

The controversial decision came after more than a year of public discussion that included impassioned arguments on both sides of the debate over whether to drop the school’s reference to 16th-century European explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo.

College officials have yet to announce a list of names under consideration, though they have said they expect to engage the community before choosing a new name by August.

Last month, Lookout asked readers to weigh in with their own suggestions for Cabrillo’s new name — selecting either from a multiple-choice list of names or submitting ideas of their own. We received 275 responses.

The clear winner: Aptos College, supported by 64 readers.

Nearly a quarter of all respondents selected the name. Aptos is a reference to both the geographic location of the college and the Ohlone language of the Indigenous people who have long called the region home. (Although Cabrillo historian Sandy Lydon disputes the “Aptos” placement of the college, noting in a recent interview with Lookout that the school is actually in Soquel.)

Manzanita College, a name proposed by Lookout’s Wallace Baine, was the runner-up, supported by 49 readers. Manzanita is a hardy evergreen shrub native to California.

Another 23 readers wrote in to propose the moniker Santa Cruz Community College. Given the campus’ Aptos address, one reader suggested the school be named Santa Cruz County Community College to be more geographically inclusive, while another recommended Santa Cruz Coastal Community College.

“Something that is straightforward and also will not generate hundreds of hours of debate,” wrote one reader who proposed naming the school after Santa Cruz. In a sign of just how fraught the renaming process can be, another reader argued: “We can’t call it Santa Cruz College. It means Holy Cross, which honors the missionaries who enslaved the local people.”

Several readers suggested renaming the college after the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, whose people lived in a region spanning all of San Benito County and parts of Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties for thousands of years before the Spanish arrived. (The tribal band currently has 600 members.)

That included suggestions of names reflective of the band’s language and heritage, such as Awaswas College or Ohlone College (though the latter is already taken by the Ohlone College with campuses in Fremont and Newark.) Several others said the tribal members themselves should be invited to choose the college’s new name.

“Let the descendants of said genocide have their voice in the room,” one reader wrote. “Get rid of uplifting the name and history of those who performed these heinous acts and, at the very least, center the voices of those who experienced the genocide. This is not uncommon in many, many countries that reckon with their colonizer past. For a country that claims ‘liberty and justice for all’ we are sure dragging our feet on this one.”

Given the outcry among some alumni over Cabrillo’s decision to change its name, it was perhaps unsurprising that a significant number of readers — 32 of them — wrote in to say that the college should keep the name.

“Otherwise we have to rename Mission St., Santa Cruz, Balboa Ave., Magellan Ave., Sir Francis Drake Ave., San Lorenzo, Henry Cowell anything (he cut down more redwoods than anyone else), UC Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz High, and anything else associated with colonialism,” one reader wrote.

Nisene Marks College rounded out the most popular nominations, with 17 votes, along with other names that pay homage to the region’s coastal heritage and natural environment, such as Monterey Bay College and Surf City College.

A few people opted for a more humorous approach — with a touch of snark. “Broke Renters College,” suggested one reader. Someone else offered up “Halfway College,” given the school’s location halfway between Santa Cruz and Watsonville.

“We’re Really, Really Sorry College,” was a reader’s nod to the controversy the name-change process has generated. Another proposed the simpler “SNAFU U.”

Have an opinion about Cabrillo College’s name change? Consider writing an opinion piece of 700 words or less to opinion@lookoutlocal.com or submitting a letter to the editor of 200 words or less to letters@lookoutlocal.com.



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