Cabrillo College from above
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Higher Ed

Citing the need for more feedback, Cabrillo College postpones renaming decision to fall 2022

Since July 2020, Cabrillo College officials have been seeking community input, holding educational panels and gathering information on the impacts of changing, or keeping, the college’s name. A final report and decision was scheduled to take place this spring, but the task force is postponing the decision to fall 2022 citing a need for more community input.

A Cabrillo College subcommittee tasked with helping the Board of Trustees decide whether or not to change the college’s name is postponing its final report and recommendation to the end of fall 2022, rather than finalizing its work this spring.

“Due largely to the COVID-19 pandemic and both the need for the college administration and Board to focus on instruction, as well as the fact that the group would like to get more community input,” said college spokesperson Kristin Fabos, “the board subcommittee is postponing the report and decision until fall semester 2022.”

Skye Gentile, a Cabrillo College communications studies instructor and department chair, said the more input from the community the better.

“I think as many fingerprints as possible on this should drive the decision on whether or not to change the name,” said Gentile, adding not enough student voices have been heard from as yet.

President Matt Wetstein agrees. He said after looking over results from the online survey in the fall, which at that point included just over 500 responses, it was clear more perspectives — especially among students and younger voices — were needed.

“The over 60 population was way overrepresented if you think about the demographic make-up of our county,” he said.

Fabos said the subcommittee and task force don’t have any community dialogue sessions scheduled as of yet but are likely planning additional sessions. The task force — a mixture of faculty, staff, students and Cabrillo College retirees — is assisting the more formal subcommittee on the project.

Community members interested in providing their opinions on the renaming of the college can fill out this survey. Fabos said the survey has been sent to all faculty, staff and students and is open to the public. She said the college is also focused on reaching out to families in the K-12 schools as many could be future students at Cabrillo College.

Oil painting of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo
(Creative Commons)

The Board of Trustees established the subcommittee in July 2020 after it received a request to rename the college. It was two months after the murder of George Floyd and activists across the country were demanding an end to systemic racism.

One way activists demanded change included the removal of historical figures, like Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, from a variety of institutions including college campuses. Cabrillo led an expedition along the California coast in 1542 and is known for paving the way for the colonial conquest of the region.

The members of the subcommittee include Wetstein, trustee Christina Cuevas, trustee Adam Spickler and student Krystal Buenrostro.

In fall 2020, the Name Exploration Advisory Task Force began its first meetings. Since then, the task force and the subcommittee have been researching what other colleges have done, conducted cost analyses and held events for the community to understand the history behind the name and the implications of keeping it or changing it.

The final report will be produced by the subcommittee and it will provide summaries of educational sessions, community dialogues, survey responses and analysis. The report will also include the group’s recommendation on a name change for the board to consider in fall 2022.