Principles to Govern Renaming and Changes to Campus Iconography

In April 2021, the Board of Trustees approved the report and recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee on Principle to Govern Renaming and Changes to Campus Iconography. The report outlined five overarching principles about naming, renaming, and changing campus iconography, which are listed below. The third principle includes four criteria to help guide specific decisions about renaming and changing campus iconography.

The report also described a “clear, inclusive, and rigorous” process by which questions about particular names or images on the University campus should be considered. Significant questions or concerns about particular names or iconography that emerge can be referred to the CPUC Committee on Naming by members of the community at any time. In making referrals, community members are encouraged to explain the concern in question and how it relates to the principles and criteria to govern renaming and changes to campus iconography.

  1. Naming decisions must be grounded in the University’s mission and core values. Decisions about naming, renaming, and changing campus iconography must be made with due regard for the University’s educational mission and core values, including its commitments to teaching and research of unsurpassed quality, to truth-seeking, and to inclusivity.
  2. Naming decisions complement and supplement other initiatives to achieve equity and inclusivity. Names and symbols matter to our campus and community, but the addition, removal, or contextualization of names and images are neither the sole nor the primary ways by which the University fulfills its aspirations to become more fully inclusive to people from all backgrounds.
  3. A decision to rename should be exceptional. Renaming should occur only under exceptional circumstances, informed and constrained by established and clear criteria. These criteria, which are largely drawn from the report of the Yale Committee on Principles to Establish Renaming, are:
    • Is a central part of the legacy of the namesake fundamentally at odds with the mission of the University?
    • Was the relevant central part of the legacy significantly contested in the time and place in which the namesake lived, or significantly out of step with the standards of the namesake’s time?
    • Did the University, at the time of a naming, honor a namesake for reasons that are fundamentally at odds with the mission of the University?
    • Does a building or program whose namesake has a central legacy fundamentally at odds with the University’s mission play a substantial role in forming community at the University?
    Any or all of the proposed criteria may be relevant to a particular case. Those who employ the criteria in the future will need to determine the relative weight to assign each of them in any given instance.
  4. The University should have a bold vision for diversifying campus narratives and imagery. The University should take a bold, proactive approach to recounting all dimensions of its history, diversifying its institutional narratives, and broadening the range of images that it displays.
  5. Renaming decisions should be governed by a clear, inclusive, and rigorous process. The processes by which the University considers questions about particular names or images should be clearly articulated and publicly known, open to community input, and informed by scholarship.