UC Berkeley considers denaming LeConte, Kroeber halls in light of namesakes

File of UC Berkeley's LeConte Hall.
Daniel Chang/File
Proposals to dename UC Berkeley's LeConte Hall, which were first initiated by the Black Student Union in 2015, will be considered July 20.

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The UC Berkeley Building Name Review Committee will consider denaming proposals for Kroeber and LeConte halls, according to a campuswide email Monday.

Both proposals cite the racist legacies of their namesakes — particularly against Black and Native American people — as cause for denaming.

The committee, which helped facilitate the removal of Boalt Hall’s name in January, assesses proposals from the campus community regarding building name changes. Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said in an email that the committee was first established in 2018 and that renaming is a separate process.

Mogulof added that both of the current proposals were received July 1.

According to the official proposals, however, efforts addressing these names have been underway longer.

The LeConte unnaming was first initiated by the Black Student Union in 2015, according to its official paperwork, while the 2017 UC Berkeley Tribal Forum addressed Alfred Kroeber’s legacy.

According to Sabrina Agarwal, a campus professor and chair of the advisory committee of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, or NAGPRA, the NAGPRA committee worked on the proposal due to Kroeber’s negative effects on Native American communities, particularly East Bay tribes.

NAGPRA committee member and proposal signatory Phenocia Bauerle, who is also campus director of Native American Student Development, said in an email that Kroeber heavily impacted government attitudes and actions toward California Native Americans and tribes considered to be “culturally extinct.”

“To many Natives, myself included, we see a man who collected Native knowledge, and literal ancestral remains to move forward a field that erased Native knowledges and understandings to be overwritten,” Bauerle said in the email.

Patrick Naranjo, a Tewa tribal member from Santa Clara Pueblo and proposal signatory, is the incoming director for the UC Berkeley American Indian Graduate Program.

Naranjo said in an email that he became involved with the proposal due to his own experience in higher learning and in light of his upcoming role serving Indigenous graduate students.

ASUC President Victoria Vera, who served on the name review committee, also said she supports the Kroeber and LeConte denaming proposals.

As ASUC president, Vera said she views her role in the current effort as connecting student organizations to one another and uplifting voices, while furthering other anti-racist work within the ASUC.

“The ASUC itself does have a history of sometimes co-opting community work,” Vera said. “It’s important to not take over that work … but to more uplift that work and give recognition to those community leaders who have been actively working on those efforts.”

First review of public comments for both the Kroeber and LeConte proposals will take place July 20.

Contact Hanna Lykke at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @hannaathearstDC.