Generally, I don’t support renaming long-established institutions for
political reasons; however, some institutions are named for people who did things that were so terrible that they should be renamed.
For decades, the Hastings College of the Law was the principle law school of the University of California. It is still the largest and most prestigious law school in San Francisco. The college was created by Serranus Clinton Hastings, the first Chief Justice of California. He was a very wealthy man. Hastings donated $100,000 in cash to build the college, a tremendous amount of money in the 1870s.
While Serranus Hastings was a very competent judge
, a lot of people want to rename the law school that bears his name because of his hunting practices. Hastings didn’t hunt bears or wolves or deer or mountain lions. He hunted Indians. In the 1850s, Hastings organized and led Indian hunting parties throughout Northern California. These hunting parties were organized for sport and financed by Hastings himself. Complete Indian tribes were exterminated by Hastings and his friends. After killing everyone in a tribe, Hastings and his friends would take home souvenirs of the hunt, including the scalps of the Indians that they had just murdered. These Indian hunting parties had the tacit support of a large number of white people in California. After gold was discovered, the Indians were in the way of the miners, and even worse, the Indians had land rights to the places where there was gold. Once the Indians in an area were completely wiped out, they couldn’t file land claims or mining rights.
For a long time, Native American organizations and tribes throughout California have argued that the Hasting College of the Law should be renamed
, and I’m on their side.