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Late Senator Bill Craven's name removed from Cal State San Marcos Hall due to controversial connection

The name of one of CSUSM's founder's name will be removed from a building because of racial comments made in the 1990s.

SAN MARCOS, Calif. — It's been decades in the making, and now a long-sought change is coming to Cal State San Marcos.

The late state Senator William Bill Craven's name will be stripped from the campus because of racist comments he made in the 90s.

The controversy is rooted in Craven’s move to have Hispanics carry identification cards in 1994, and the year before that, he made racial comments during a senate committee meeting on border issues.

“I know there will be many people who disagree with me about what I am going to say...It seems rather strange that we go out of the way to take care of the rights of these individuals who are perhaps on the lower scale of our humanity for one reason or another," said Craven.

The idea to remove one of the founding fathers of CSUSM was rejected then, but now 30 years later, his name is coming down from the hall, and the bust will be removed.

“In the desire to move the university forward and prioritize the needs of today's students, this made sense and was in alignment with our values,” said Margaret Chantung, CSUSM's Chief Communications Officer.

She said more than 50 percent of their student population is Hispanic.

In 2021 CSUSM President Ellen Neufeldt formed a task force to review the removal of Craven's name and looked at the historical record.

“They looked at documents and videos, and they opened up public comments and allowed folks from the region to come and share their opinions or just their knowledge of working with him or knowing him,” said Chantung.

Last week the CSU Board of Trustees approved removing the Craven name.

President Neufeldt released a statement:

A CSUSM task force worked for 18 months to study state Senator William Cravens relationship with CSUSM. The process was robust, inclusive, deliberate, and evidence-based. I appreciate that, as a campus community, we can come together to work through complex issues such as this. This decision is grounded in our values of who we are as an institution that prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion and the success of all our students. Together, we will continue to live our values as we remain a beacon of hope and opportunity  a university of true belonging for all.

Students CBS 8 spoke to agree.

“If we're holding a lot of other people accountable, then it doesn't make sense not to hold someone that did something like that account as well, just because they did something,” said Ella Guerra, CSUSM student.

Not everyone is in line with the removal of Craven's name. 

“I have difficulty rationalizing his accomplishment with an accusation that he's a racist and a white supremacist,” said Ken Lounsberg.

The attorney is a friend of the late Craven and has served on the CSUSM University Council for the last 40 years and submitted a brief to the CSU’s trustees to consider for their records.

“It's my view that the erasure of Senator Craven’s name from the building named after him is a distraction. He has built a university that has been profoundly successful in promoting social mobility, particularly for Hispanic families,” said Lounsberg.

Chantung said there would be a working group to find other ways to honor Craven's legacy.

There will also be a working group to rename the hall. It will need CSU Board of Trustee approval. 

The school said the name would come down by the next semester and would be replaced with the interim name of Administration.

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