UC Berkeley Law Backs Away From Nickname For School Building Over Racism Fears

SHUTTERSTOCK/ Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz

Neetu Chandak Education and Politics Reporter
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A University of California law school is backing away from a nickname it uses for its building over racism concerns.

UC Berkeley Law School dean Erwin Chemerinsky issued a statement on Tuesday announcing to move away from the “Boalt” name. The name comes from Nevada lawyer John Boalt, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Boalt was a supporter of the act that prohibited Chinese from immigrating into the U.S. known as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Los Angeles Times reported.



Boalt said “racist things, especially about those of Chinese ancestry, and also about African-Americans and Native Americans,” according to Chemerinsky’s letter. (RELATED: San Francisco Is Removing Statue That Shows Founding Of California Over Racism Concerns)

The name Boalt was also eliminated because he was not a student at Berkeley and the law school was not officially named Boalt, according to the letter.

“Thus, the use of the Boalt name is entirely ‘honorific,'” the letter read. “The gifts were made by Elizabeth Boalt to honor her husband John.”

The Boalt name is used in various organizations like the Boalt Environmental Law Society, Boalt Global Corporate Law Society, Boalt Improv Group and Boalt Parent Network. The law school is planning to encourage to stop using the Boalt name in organizations.

Boalt Hall is not having the name removed because the law school cannot make that decision without the Chancellor, according to the letter.

“As for the building, the school will ask the campus Building Naming Review Committee to remove the Boalt name from the wing of the building that carries it,” a Berkeley official told The Daily Caller News Foundation over email. (RELATED: California Schools Dominate In Bringing In Money From Rejected Applications)

Chemerinsky added in the statement that 60 percent of the responses he received were for removing the name while 40 percent did not want the name eliminated.

“Those who self-identified as individuals of color overwhelmingly, but not unanimously, favored changing the name,” the letter said. “I was surprised that there was more of a political reaction to this than I expected: those who indicated that they were politically conservative overwhelmingly favored keeping the name.”

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