In case you missed the news of this reckoning last year, the namesake of the University of California's SF law school, Serranus Hastings, had a lot of Native American blood on his hands, and many have called on the school's board of directors to rename UC Hastings. And now they have.
Serranus Clinton Hastings (1814 – 1893), who founded the law school, ordered the mass killing of at least 283 Native Americans — men women and children — in one of the deadliest of a long series of state-sanctioned, militia-led massacres. The killings, which took place in 1860 at Hastings' behest, were part of some efforts to clear land for white settlers' use that have been a long-buried piece of California history — and the New York Times discussed the revelations about Hastings in an October 2021 exposé. Additionally, thousands of members of Yuki tribe members from Mendocino county were enslaved by Hastings
Hastings used some of his ill-gotten earnings, from cattle and horse ranches and real estate that he sent henchmen to "protect" by killing Yuki tribespeople — including, by one account, a young girl who was killed for "stubbornness" — to provide the founding donation for the college of law.
Some of the school's prominent alumni and members of the board all agreed that Hastings' money, and the school's name, were tainted by these truths — which began coming to light five years ago through the research of Bay Area lawyer John Briscoe. In a Chronicle opinion piece in 2017, Briscoe discussed how both Hastings and Leland Stanford had Indigenous blood on their hands — as governor, Stanford signed appropriations bills that helped fund some of these genocidal campaigns, so there's a case for renaming Stanford University as well.
Yuki and Round Valley tribe members had been calling for the school to get an Indigenous name. But instead, the board has gone with the generic and awkward mouthful, University of California: College of the Law San Francisco. (The previous, full name was University of California: Hastings College of the Law) An Assembly bill, AB 1936, was passed in the state legislature earlier this summer, which resolved that the school should change its name and make efforts to help tribal people. Those efforts include providing financial aid to Indigenous students who want to attend the school.
It was a previous state, law in 1878, that had declared the school "shall forever be known and designated as the Hastings College of the Law."
The board will also be issuing a formal apology to the tribes, and space has been allocated in the main lobby of the school for a memorial to those killed.