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January 4, 2005 > Cal State Hayward Has Identity Crisis

Cal State Hayward Has Identity Crisis

by Florence Ion

In November, California State University, Hayward proposed a name change that has created a rift of epic proportions. The university would like to change its name to California State University, East Bay in order to accommodate the diverse population of students from different regions of the East Bay.

What is wrong with the current name? According to a press release on the school's main website, the university offers "convenient locations and low fees" and makes "high-quality higher education truly accessible to students of all backgrounds throughout the East Bay." To limit the name to one region in the area, the university claims, would misconstrue the school's primary purpose.

The name change has also been anticipated because "Hayward" is not a well-known California city causing confusion as to its location and "fails to communicate [the] primary service area" of the school. The university has three different locations in the Bay Area: the main campus in Hayward, an extension in Concord, and a center in Oakland. The name, proponents claim, limits the university to one specific city.

CSU Hayward is a two-campus university with 14,000 students serving a two-county region of nearly 2.5 million people. CSU Hayward is unique in that it has two distinct, full-service campuses, one in Hayward and another in Concord. A number of students take courses at both branches.

According to CSU Hayward President Norma S. Rees, the name no longer fits and is an impediment to some of the primary goals of the university.

Rees has issued a "Q & A" in hopes of answering some of the questions posed by the name change. The press release can be found on the university's website at www.csuhayward.edu.

"Our current name defines us narrowly and implies a small local college important only to its immediate area - not a major university with regional as well as state, national and global impact," Rees declared in the press release.

The president also claims that a name change to California State University, East Bay could support other university efforts including increasing regional visibility of the university, change the overall perception of the school and recruit students from outside the area. Another reason for the name change is to "increase donor recognition and expand fundraising capabilities."

Interestingly, this would not be the first time the campus has changed its name. The original name was The State College for Alameda County (informally referred to as "Alameda State College."). In 1960, its name was formally changed to Alameda County State College and, in 1963 the name was again changed to California State College at Hayward. In 1972, the school was christened California State University, Hayward.

"In each case, the changes were intended to clarify the university's mission and to acknowledge its growth, achievements, and changing charter - just as the current proposed name change intends to do," read the school's website.

While schools colors would remain white, black and red, a new seal and logo would be developed. The university mascot, the "Pioneer", would go under review and a new athletic logo could possibly be created.

Opposition to the name change has flourished, as well. A number of students dislike the idea and on Dec. 18, lead a march against the proposal. More than 100 people, including Hayward Mayor Roberta Cooper, moved from B Street near Foothill Boulevard to the steps of City Hall where a petition waited to be signed. The event was a re-creation of the rally that took place 45 years ago, celebrating the creation of the university. Hayward's reluctance to change the name of the university is reflected on the city's website where one can "vote" to keep the university's name as is.

"Cal State East Bay" could possibly help the university give off a better first impression, which is what the school hopes for with the new name change. It is a big decision and will affect the community and current attendees, as well as alumni. Unfortunately, no one has been in contact at this time for further comments, but there will be more on this story in the next issue.

 
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