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Moses Hall unnamed following outrage over racist namesake

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Executive News Editor

FEBRUARY 08, 2023

Today, a UC Berkeley work crew stripped the lettering off of Moses Hall after UC President Michael Drake approved a proposal submitted by campus Chancellor Carol Christ in December to unname the building, according to a campus press release. The building, temporarily dubbed Philosophy Hall, awaits approval for the formal renaming. 

The campus Building Name Review Committee, or BNRC, submitted a recommendation to Christ to remove the title in May 2022, due to the racist and colonialist views of the building’s namesake Bernard Moses. Now, Moses Hall joins the list of four other campus buildings to forfeit its name due to racist namesakes, according to the press release. 

“Our objective is to cease honoring someone responsible for promulgating racist and white supremacist beliefs in the past, so that our actions are consistent with our values in the present,” Christ stated in an email to the campus community. 

The building, constructed in 1931 under the title Eshleman Memorial Publications Building, was renamed in 1965 in honor of Moses, the campus press release reads. The name reflected Moses’ contributions as founder and former chair of the campus department of history and political Science, as well as his studies of imperial Spain and Latin America. Today, the building also houses the Institute of Governmental Studies and the philosophy department. 

According to the BNRC unnaming proposal, Moses expressed “problematic” white supremacist views as reflected in his published academic works on history, society and politics. 

“At the core of the case for un-naming Moses Hall is Moses’ expression of racist, white supremacist views in various published works,” the BNRC proposal reads. “There is a great deal of evidence of his acceptance of a view that today is called ‘classical racialism’ or ‘racial essentialism.’ ”

Moses’ writings targeted those of Indigenous and Black heritage, according to the campus press release. The hurt caused to students, faculty and staff of color, among other community members, prompted the unnaming proposal, the press release states. 

A feedback survey conducted by the BNRC reflected that 66% of 154 respondents were in favor of the name removal for Moses Hall, as represented in the group’s proposal. 

In Christ’s letter to Drake, she stated the renaming process will help remove obstacles to belonging for the campus community. Christ also supported the BNRC’s call to discuss the impact of Moses’s legacy, rather than “erase history.” Relevant programming, including the Bernard Moses Memorial Lecture, will undergo alterations, according to the campus press release. 

“A building name is more than a symbol,” Christ said in an email to the campus community. “Those who we choose to honor reflect who we are, and what we believe in.”

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FEBRUARY 08, 2023