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The Cabrillo College Name Change Debate

By November, the Cabrillo Governing Board plans to close name-change discussions

Cabrillo College. PHOTO: FILE

Cabrillo College is planning to host a series of 90-minute community discussions in September as college officials weigh changing the school’s name.

The first event will be Sept. 1 at 6pm, and will be virtual. For information, visit bit.ly/2WhPWJW. Translation services will be available.

Cabrillo wrapped up a series of educational sessions in May.

The college began to mull the issue in July 2020, as communities across the U.S. started to question the practice of naming their institutions, buildings and other things after notorious historical figures. Those discussions have been fueled in part by movements such as Black Lives Matter and Me Too.

Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo has been lauded for exploring the West Coast of the Americas around 1542. But that image of an adventurous explorer is belied by his other image—one of a conqueror who enslaved and brutalized the Amah Mutsun people who already lived here.

Christina Cuevas, who sits on the Cabrillo College Name Exploration Subcommittee, says the issue has garnered attention countywide, with younger people and people associated with the campus generally favoring the change, while older residents oppose it.

The college therefore hopes to reach as many people countywide as possible, she says.

“We want to make sure we’re hearing voices on campus as well as broadly off campus,” she says. “We want to engage as many people and hear as many voices as possible from different perspectives.”

The discussions are expected to be completed in November. The governing board in spring 2022 will use the community input when they mull the question of whether or not to change the name.

If the vote is yes, the college will begin the process of choosing a new name.

Subcommittee member Adam Spickler says that, for many people, the potential cost of making the change is the biggest concern.

College officials say this will include new signs, letterhead, athlete uniforms and business cards, among other things, all of which have been estimated at $1 million. But Spickler says that not making the change could have a cost, if students choose not to attend for that reason.

“It’s important for everybody to know that, no matter what we choose, there is an impact,” he says. “One may be greater, one may be lesser. But we have to consider how we make this decision based on all these factors.”

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