CSU San Marcos / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Four members of CSU San Marcos’ 40-person University Council have resigned in response to the decision to remove former state Sen. Bill Craven’s name from the university’s first building.  

Craven, whose years of advocacy played an instrumental role in the founding of the university, angered many during his time in office with demeaning remarks about Latino immigrants. He passed away in 1999. 

In 2021, San Marcos’ President Ellen Neufeldt created a task force to investigate Craven’s legacy and to determine whether his name should be removed. In December, the task force released a report recommending Craven’s name come down. While the recommendation wasn’t unanimous, they wrote that “the overwhelming majority of Taskforce members endorsed the removal.”  

Key factors in the decision included Craven’s support of identification cards for migrants and the controversial Proposition 187 – which passed but was never implemented. Prop. 187 would have prohibited immigrants who lack permanent legal status from accessing non-emergency public health care, K-12 education and public higher education.  

Craven also referred to undocumented immigrants as the “lower scale of our humanity,” during a 1993 Senate hearing – another incident that influenced the task force’s decision. Craven’s lack of apology for the statement also played a critical role in the decision of multiple members.  

“(Craven) explained that the comment was taken out of context, and the task force reviewed the video of the hearing and heard the comment in context,” the task force wrote. “The majority of task force members were not satisfied with [Craven’s] explanation and believe his failure to meet with the faculty and staff and acknowledge the pain his comments cause the Latinx community demonstrates behavior counter to the values of CSUSM.”  

In late January, the CSU board of trustees sided with the task force, clearing the way for the name change.  

Xuan Santos, an associate professor at CSU San Marcos told The Coast News that the decision came “after three decades of struggle to change the name, so it’s a major victory as far as looking at racial justice across the United States.” 

But the name change also triggered the resignation of multiple members of the college’s University Council, an advisory group made up of community members, who cited their disagreement with the decision and their frustration that they had not been consulted.   

John Raymond, who served as director emeritus of the CSUSM Foundation and sat on the council for 34 years, was one of the councilmembers who resigned.  

“I was working on an initiative to address and fund an issue about which I care about deeply. It is food and/or shelter security for all CSUSM students. It is hereby terminated,” he wrote in a letter to Neufeldt.  

In a fiery resignation letter, Kenneth Lounsberry, a former friend of Craven, wrote the decision to remove his name from the building was “staggering,” and that the task force had made no attempt to prove its “salacious charges.” Lounsberry has served on the University Council, since the university was founded 40 years ago. 

“History will not deal kindly with this chapter of University leadership,” Lounsberry wrote. “The eradication of the senator’s name is a miscarriage of justice. He was neither a racist nor a white supremacist and years from now truly objective scholarship will correct the record. In the meantime, I will recall the meaningful years of the Council and leave you to your diminished role.”  

In a statement, CSUSM spokesperson Margaret Chantung wrote that the university is grateful for the resigning members’ years of service. She also noted that the council is an advisory group, rather than a governing board or a decision-making group.  

“It’s important to understand that the full membership of the university council did not have a singular opinion on the name of Craven Hall, and the viewpoints of the resigning members do not represent the viewpoints of the entire group,” Chantung wrote. “We look forward to the ongoing work of university council in partnership with President Neufeldt, the faculty, staff and students of CSUSM.” 

Jakob McWhinney is Voice of San Diego's education reporter. He can be reached by email at jakob@vosd.org and followed...

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  1. “Three decades of struggle” – to change the letters on a building? This guy santos sounds like a real winner

    1. Dr. Santos is absolutely a winner. He’s an activist who fights for marginalized people, and our campus is lucky to have him. It WAS a struggle to “change the letters on a building” because powerful people like to maintain the status quo, as you can see by the tantrums they have thrown.

  2. Isn’t the name “San Marcos” cultural appropriation? They should probably remove that also.

    1. San Marcos is the name given to the area during the Spanish colonial era. You cannot “appropriate” a name that was there hundreds of years before you arrived. And, by the way, the majority of place names in California (including California!) are of Spanish origin. And here’s a historical fact that you may not like — the name California is derived from the rulership of this region by a black woman named Califa, according to indigenous legends. No doubt you won’t believe me. Even if I gave you documentary evidence, you’d say it was fake. But never mind all that. Point is: no, there was no “cultural appropriation.” However, if you like, we can talk about settler colonial invasion. But somehow I doubt you’d not want to. Anyway. Have a nice day. 🙂

  3. “He was neither a racist nor a white supremacist…” He merely stated that non-white people are the “lower scale of our humanity.” Hmmm. “… years from now truly objective scholarship will correct the record.” He stated this “during a 1993 Senate hearing.” Hmmmm…”“(Craven) explained that the comment was taken out of context…”Hmmmm….it’s all just a bit….hmmmm….hysterical. But that’s what happened when racists get called out. Oh. Well.

    1. Congratulations on this auspicious day of your remarkable achievement, renaming a building at a commuter school with a 55% graduation rate. God bless

    2. The comment was in reference to illegal aliens. That group includes whites. And the vast, vast majority of non-whites are not illegal aliens. Therefore, attempting to summarize the quote as calling non-whites a lower lifeform is not accurate.

      1. Sure, he meant Scottish undocumented immigrants were a “lower scale of humanity”.

        This is a standard racist trope commonly used to describe non-White immigrants by White racists, there is no other way to interpret this unless you want to make excuses for racism (which is what you are clearly doing).

        1. Some of the original anti-immigtant sentiment in America was about Irish immigrants. So, race historically has not been a motivating factor for anti-immigration stances. And, given that Craven didn’t seem to have an issue with the 95+% of non-whites who were in the country legally, that strongly suggests that his issue was with the illegality of their entry, rather than their race.

  4. Funny to see all the racist white people trying to resist the change or belittle the achievement. Even the in the comments, you guys are opening up publicly🤣👴
    Goes to show that even to this date there are still so many around…

    1. HaHaHa..enjoying all the comments on here.. like a certain body part. Everyone has one, nobody likes to hear it … Also, I kinda like that old quote “Who let the Dog’s out?” Never ever, ever, ever, will people change other opposing people’s minds ….even when they make no sense! Most are brainless finger warriors who just want to spew while remaining anonymous. I hereby name it finger fighting! (much safer than getting off the couch, walking out the door, and physically confronting YOUR new ENEMY! Maybe we need to go back to sword fights, fist fights, etc…after all…WE ARE A VERY VIOLENT SPECIES! Look at the most popular sport…Football…we can’t get enough of watching grown men physically bash into each other. Some peoples, cultures, etc etc etc (not naming names) are just more into division, and need to look in the mirror! AND…newsflash – it’s not who usually gets the blame!

  5. All of you poor saps are quite simply crybabies. My father was treated far worse as a dumb Pollack and in 1996 some guy at the SDCBA called me horrible names. Welcome to America. Crybabies!

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