Widgets Magazine
Native students march for renaming Serra landmarks on campus
(ALEX TSAI/The Stanford Daily)

Native students march for renaming Serra landmarks on campus

Native students and their allies marched in Wednesday’s Walk to Rename in support of renaming buildings and streets honoring Junipero Serra on campus.

The students convened in the courtyard outside of Serra house in Stern Hall and walked down Galvez Mall to President Marc Tessier-Lavigne’s office in the Main Quad, where they presented letters of discontent to administrators.

“To the window… to the wall… no more Serra Mall!” marchers chanted.

In an open letter co-signed by a coalition of “concerned Native students,” members of the Native community requested that the administration recognize that “the constant veneration of those in the past who mistreated [their] ancestors must cease” through Stanford’s renaming of buildings and streets commemorating Serra.

Serra, a Catholic missionary, colonized California for Spain in the 18th century and created the California mission system, which had severe impacts on Native communities in the area.

“The naming of buildings and streets after those who tried to eradicate our culture serves only to venerate the oppressors,” the protesters’ letter reads.

According to the students, the march grew out of discontent with inaction and lack of communication from the committee the University assembled early in 2016 to consider the Serra renaming issue. The Daily reported earlier this fall that the committee’s mandate has shifted since its creation, in what the group’s chair described as an effort to speed along an unexpectedly difficult process.

“The renaming committee created to discuss Serra’s rightful place on Stanford’s campus has been repeatedly delayed and now no longer seeks to form a recommendation on the street and three campus buildings named after Junipero Serra,” the letter explained.

The committee is now only formulating general principles for renaming. It expects to finish its work by the end of the quarter, according to committee chair and Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History Emeritus David Kennedy.

Kiki Velez ’21 attended the march at the urging of Tyra Nicolay ’21, a resident of Muwekma and active member of the Native American community at Stanford.

Velez expressed her empathy for the Native community.

“I realized showing support for a community that’s marginalized on campus is really important to me because I come from a Hispanic background,” she said. “If there were a building named after a conquistador, someone who had conquered Mexico and slaughtered my relatives, I would want people to show up.”

Velez was pleased by the turnout of around 40 students and said that observers on campus seemed receptive to the protest.

“There was a lot of interest,” she said. “There were a lot of people Snapchatting and filming the march, and it seemed like people were pretty supportive.”

“Anytime a community feels marginalized on campus, I feel like that’s an issue we should all address,” she added.


Contact Alex Tsai at aotsai ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Alex Tsai

Alex Tsai ’21 is a desk editor for The Daily’s academics beat. She was born and raised in Hong Kong for 13 years and moved to La Jolla, CA for high school. Alex walked onto the varsity lacrosse team this year and is interested in computer science.
  • GerardBrunetti

    You’ll find a professor in the linguistics department for three new words that have been embraced by the Nations in the four corners, Colo. river tribes, yes I invented them. Lets end the oldest degree of separation in America, the very first one that took place, ahem-“The Americ people of North America are not Indian. The Amtrinas women and Americk men are not from India, it is insulting both great peoples.” Not answers, solutions! What good are answers that can be argued, reversed, solutions are what’s needed to move forward as a nation, as a people, if we ever want to leave the rat “race” behind. The difference between a people and a race? Culture! Did somebody tell the whites to invent the rat “race”, no, the result, the burden of racism becomes an out of control pariah on their backs, the whites, which they exercise openly with hate, anger, greed. Generation after generation of “racist” are born, brought into this World, unwittingly raised “racist”. Do they see the reality of their own actions? Rat race, racism, racists? Wow, those are big, giant ten penny nails in that coffin they invented for their race. And they continue to twist the words, well, Blackhawk said it well- “How smooth the language of the whites that twist wrong into right, until right becomes wrong, how strange of the whites!”

  • XxStanfordLoverxX

    Say hey, say ho, Serra hall has got to go.