UPDATE: California law school faces lawsuit for changing its name

Descendants of Serranus Hastings filed a lawsuit earlier this month against College of Law, San Francisco for removing the word Hastings from its name.

Campus Reform previously reported that the law school, formerly known as the University of California Hastings College of the Law, changed its name after the state legislature proposed a bill advocating for the name change.

Alumni of the College of Law, San Francisco (CLSF) and descendants of Serranus Hastings filed a lawsuit earlier this month against CLSF for removing the word Hastings from the name of the law school. 

Campus Reform reported in June that the law school, formerly known as the University of California Hastings College of the Law (UCHCL), changed its name after the state legislature proposed an assembly bill advocating for the name change. 

S.C. Hastings, perpetrated genocidal acts against Native California Indigenous Peoples, most especially the Yuki Tribe,” the bill read. “In connection with the name change authorization, the Board of Directors of the College determined that changing the name of the College is in the best interests of the continuation of the College in perpetuity, and is an element of the College’s ongoing work to address the needs of the current generation of Yuki Tribal members.”

Nearly a dozen officials of the university and the state of California are listed as defendants.

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The lawsuit details the 1878 agreement between Hastings and the State of California entitled “An Act to create Hastings’ College of the Law, in the University of the State of California.” 

Hastings was required to provide a $100,000 payment to the state treasury, which he did, and in return, the college was “to be forever known and designated as ‘Hastings College of the Law.’” 

“It further provided that the College’s directors ‘shall always provide for filling a vacancy [on the Board] with some heir or some representative of the said S.C. Hastings,’” the lawsuit read. 

If the state of California violated these terms or the college “ceased to exist” the state would owe the descendants of Hastings $100,000 with “unexpended, accumulated interest.”

The lawsuit further argued the name change was “unconstitutional.”

“The State’s decision to erase ‘Hastings’ from the College’s name and remove the family’s Board seat constitutes an unconstitutional impairment of the State’s contractual obligations to S.C. Hastings and his descendants,” the lawsuit stated. 

Campus Reform received a statement on behalf of the law school stating that the university was “aware of the lawsuit.”

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“We are disappointed that these plaintiffs are attempting to prevent the College’s name change,” the statement read. “The bill’s passage was the result of a lengthy, deliberate and transparent process at the College that included years of thoughtful research, several public hearings, and input from a wide range of community stakeholders.

“The College remains committed to moving forward with the name change, and to continuing our restorative justice efforts with the support of the campus community.”

The bill was approved on July 27 and in addition to the name change, the law school would have to make an annual apology to the native community as well as fund scholarships for Native students and host a lecture series about injustice.

Campus Reform contacted CLSF and Dhillon Law Group and will update this article accordingly.

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