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UCLA committee finalizes plan to address honorifically named campus spaces

Royce Hall, pictured, is one of the central buildings on UCLA’s campus. In its final report, the Campus Honorary Naming Advisory Committee outlines the protocol for naming, renaming and unnaming campus spaces to better represent UCLA’s diversity and values. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Catherine Hamilton

Aug. 11, 2022 3:51 p.m.

This post was updated 8/14/2022 at 8:16 p.m.

UCLA announced its final plan for the honorary naming, renaming and unnaming process of campus spaces in June.

The Campus Honorary Naming Advisory Committee was officially launched in September 2020 in response to the murder of George Floyd alongside other major systemic injustices, said Mary Osako, chair of the committee and vice chancellor of strategic communications, in an emailed statement. She added that Chancellor Gene Block wanted the campus to honor the diversity of the community and its values through more representative naming.

Osako added that a building or space will be unnamed if it no longer adequately represents UCLA’s values based on the honoree’s actions. The committee only outlined a report on the process and criteria for unnaming honorifically named spaces, those not named in association with a philanthropic gift, Osako said.

“The committee counsels caution in unnamings, and suggests establishing a relatively high bar for such actions,” Osako said in her emailed statement. “Reasons for this include the benefits of stability of the campus environment and honoring past naming processes, even if a person or group honored is not one that the campus would select for honoring at a later time.”

The committee’s work coincides with the nationwide movement to rename buildings and spaces that have garnered controversy because of the actions of the person they are named after. For example, some UCLA community members have criticized current building names including the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center due to Reagan’s policies decreasing federal funding for healthcare, according to an article from PRIME.

The University of California already has a systemwide naming policy for UC-owned spaces built prior to 2020, said Carole Goldberg, a member of the committee and professor of law emerita, in an emailed statement. She added that UCLA’s committee aims to address naming controversies that arise on campus.

The Committee on Honorific Namings, the next iteration of the current committee, will handle requests to name, rename or unname spaces, with its members to be announced in the fall, she added.

Goldberg said Block’s office will choose the Committee on Honorific Namings’ members from across the UCLA community based on community input, relevant experience and representation of all communities to have a wide array of perspectives on the naming process.

The committee allowed transparency during the making of its final report with a campuswide email, a 30-day public review and outreach to interested parties, Osako said. She added that the first drafts of the report had feedback during seven hearing sessions.

Goldberg said the committee also realizes that perspectives on naming will change over time and decisions made now could change in the future.

“To ensure that one generation does not address too many of the available honorific naming opportunities, we recommended that a limited set of initial honorific naming opportunities be identified at first, leaving additional opportunities to be carried out by future generations of Bruins,” Goldberg said in her statement.

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