Law School Named for Man Who Funded Indigenous Killings Seeks New Name


  • The board of directors at the University of California Hastings College of the Law is seeking to change the school’s name.
  • The college’s namesake is Serranus Hastings, a former attorney general who funded the indiscriminate killings of Indigenous people.
  • The school is known for having propelled several noteworthy names into the spotlight, including Vice President Kamala Harris. 

A California law school that’s named for a man who bankrolled the murder of Indigenous people in the state is trying to change its name. 

The board of directors at the University of California Hastings College of the Law on Tuesday voted to orchestrate a name change with the California legislature and governor’s office, according to a press release. The school itself is unable to change its name on its own without the state government’s support. 

The college is known for having propelled several noteworthy names into the spotlight, including Vice President Kamala Harris. 

Its namesake, Serranus Hastings, served as the former attorney general of California. Hastings funded the forced removal of the Yuki people, a move that resulted in the killings of several tribe members.

The killings were indiscriminate and brutal. One 10-year-old girl was killed for exhibiting “stubbornness,” and some infants were killed to be “put out of their misery,” documents reviewed by the New York Times said.

For at least four years, the school has been contending with and scrutinizing its own dark history, weighing whether to change its name. 

“Four years ago, I initiated a robust process for engaging Native Californians whose tribes were affected by the deadly acts of Serranus Hastings,” Dean David Faigman said in the release. “The time has come to recognize that changing the College’s name is an important step in that process. I am committed to working diligently to do so.”

The school has tried to enact some form of reparations for the turmoil and devastation caused by its namesake. A committee formed to “recommend steps toward restorative justice” has announced a series of initiatives designed to honor Indigenous people and preserve their culture and history. 

The committee came up with the idea to erect a public memorial dedicated to the Yuki people, the release says. The school also recommended that the Yuki people have greater access to its educational resources like scholarships and the opportunity to be on its moot court team.  

The bill can be introduced in the state legislature as early as January 3, according to CNN. It’s unclear what the new name could be, but potential contenders could include “geographic or California-specific designation” names, Faigman told CNN. 



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