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Building renamed to Ethnic Studies & Psychology

April 8, 2004

Photo of the new stenciling on the door of the Ethnic Studies & Psychology Building which reflects the name change Thirty-five years after the famous student/faculty strike at San Francisco State ended with the creation of the College of Ethnic Studies, the Psychology building has been renamed the Ethnic Studies & Psychology building following a determined effort by a small group of students.

White, two-inch-high capital letters on two front doors of the building now spell out the new name of the building. Large block letters will soon be added above the main entrance.

"We now feel that the College of Ethnic Studies has full citizenship in the University," said Tomas Almaguer, dean of the College of Ethnic Studies. "This is very symbolic and it is also quite an honor."

The ethnic studies students, Almaguer said, simply wanted to bring highly visible recognition to the College by working through the system to make it happen.

"We are the birthplace of ethnic studies and creation of the College helped put San Francisco State on the map," said Carlos Hagedorn, a graduate student in ethnic studies. "Having the words 'Ethnic Studies' on that building gives students all across this campus a sense of pride and a sense of identity."

Born out of the famous San Francisco State strike of 1968-69, the College of Ethnic Studies still retains the distinction of being the only such College in the country.

More than 6,000 students each semester enroll in the college's 175 courses in the departments of American Indian, Asian American, Black, Raza studies and the Ethnic Studies graduate program. The renamed building houses classes for ethnic studies and psychology students as well as offices for faculty in those departments.

"It is a fitting tribute that on the 35th anniversary its establishment, the College of Ethnic Studies now has an enduring, symbolic marker on our campus," said President Robert A. Corrigan. "We are extremely proud of the contributions our faculty, students and alumni continue to make in the field of ethnic studies. The added name on this building will constantly remind everyone of our pioneering work in this vital academic discipline."

Added John Gemello, provost and vice president for academic affairs: "I am delighted that we have been able to change the name of the building to the Ethnic Studies & Psychology building. This new name will, of course, better represent the actual occupants of the building but even more it will give deserved recognition to the faculty and students of the College of Ethnic Studies who have worked together to build a strong presence on the campus."

The effort to rename the building began last fall with a casual discussion among some ethnic studies students, Hagedorn recalled. "We wondered why the words 'Ethnic Studies' were not on a building. We have the Creative Arts building, the Science building (Old Science), the Humanities building ... but nothing for Ethnic Studies," he said.

Shortly after that discussion, Hagedorn and the group of less than a dozen students formed the organization "We Are Ethnic Studies" and posted a banner with those words across the front of the Psychology building. They also organized a rally to gain campus support for the name change.

The students discovered that there had been several unsuccessful efforts to give the building a new name. This time the students thought it was critical to have supporters throughout campus.

"We wanted to be inclusive and tell people what we were doing and why," said Hagedorn. "We met with the department chairs in ethnic studies, the head of psychology, deans across the campus and many others. This effort wasn't about a small group of students. It was something we wanted to do for our University and more importantly for our communities."

Hagedorn and several students also gave a presentation to the President's Cabinet, the University's senior management team.

"The students of Ethnic Studies are to be commended for their efforts to bring about the renaming of the Psychology building," said Penny Saffold, vice president for student affairs. "While very enthusiastic, throughout the process they remained focused as well as patient as they worked within the system to realize their goal. I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with them."

-- Ted DeAdwyler


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Last modified July 27, 2004 by University Communications