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November 26, 2022

Cabrillo College trustees approve name change

APTOS—Cabrillo College’s governing board voted Monday to change the institution’s name after a two-hour discussion that included comments from dozens of community members.

The trustees voted 6-1 in favor of renaming the college, with trustee Rachel Spencer dissenting. 

The decision followed the Nov. 10 release of a 64-page report by the Cabrillo College Name Exploration Subcommittee and a seven-member Exploration Advisory Task Force, which included a survey of students, staff and Cabrillo Foundation supporters.

The drive to change the college’s name began in July 2020. As the Black Lives Matter movement grew following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, communities across the U.S. were rethinking the names and symbols bestowed upon their buildings, landmarks and institutions. The Cleveland Indians changed their name to the Guardians in 2021, and a year earlier NASCAR banned the Confederate flag—long thought to be a symbol of white supremacy—at all its events.

Many colleges and universities are similarly undergoing similar discussions.

The college’s namesake is Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, known for exploring the west coast of the Americas around 1542, as well as for being a murderous conqueror who enslaved and brutalized the Amah Mutsun people who lived here.

The committee’s recommendation came despite a majority of survey respondents (66.9%) saying they wanted the college to keep its name, with many citing cost and others saying that changing the name would not change the underlying historical issues associated with Cabrillo.

Just over 24% said they want to change it, while 9% were neutral, according to the survey.

But Trustee Adam Spickler said that majority opinions are not always the best, and often don’t reflect the damage that minority communities can face by keeping the status quo.

He pointed to Proposition 8, which voters passed in 2008, and limited marriage to men and women. A federal court found that law unconstitutional, a decision that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Spickler also said that a majority of people opposed desegregation in the early days of the Civil Rights movement. 

“There are reasons people hold strongly and passionately to their beliefs, but those beliefs are not always what’s best,” Spickler said.

Spickler also said that many survey respondents who originally opposed the idea changed their minds on the issue after learning about Cabrillo’s history.

Cabrillo officials will now begin the process of finding a new name, a process that likely will involve voluminous community input and begin in summer 2023.

Trustee Christina Cuevas said that the only guideline so far is that the college will not bear the name of an individual.

“You get into this whole thing of, ‘is this a good person or a bad person in their time,’” she said. “Let’s just not go there.”

The overall costs associated with a name change have ranged from $200,000 to $800,000 at other colleges that have done so, Cabrillo President Matt Wetstein said. But these will likely be spread out over several years, he added. 

Additionally, many of the costs associated with a name change are “sunk costs” such as business cards and team uniforms that are replaced annually, Wetstein said.

Roughly two-dozen people addressed the trustees, the majority of which spoke in favor of changing the college’s name.

In explaining her no vote, Trustee Spencer said that the committee tasked with exploring the name change contained no community members, and thus was “sorely lacking” in a vetting process.

She also said the report shows that a majority of respondents do not support a name change, and that going against that “will divide the community.”

Trustee Steve Trujillo said that, when he ran for his seat, many people told him the college’s name needed to be changed. He said he learned about Cabrillo’s sordid past in a history class years ago.

“I was shocked at the fact that the college would be named for him,” Trujillo said. “The time has come to make sure we right this egregious wrong … it’s the right thing to do.”

Trustee Dan Rothwell said the vote was “the hardest decision I have ever had to make.”

While he agreed on the practical issues, the issue for him came down to a moral and ethical question. He said that the college’s founders would likely not have chosen Cabrillo if they knew his history.

“Cabrillo was a bad dude,” he said. “Morally and ethically it makes it impossible for me to say that we should keep the name Cabrillo College.”



  1. thanks , Todd, for quoting me correctly. and the article is factual.
    I am so pleased that nearly all of my colleagues voted with me on this issue.
    I am certain we can come up with an inclusive, positive name that actually reflects the campus, our dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion and the emphasis on its supportive nature.
    send me a new name that you think would be appropriate for our outstanding community college.
    that would EXCLUDE donald trump community college.

  2. Wait till Cabrillo asks for more money in a bond issue. 66% of voters will vote NO since Cabrillo ignored all 66% who voted to keep the name of Cabrillo. They just ignored we voters and will blow almost a million to change the name. I’ll also never donate to Cabrillo again as will my extended family and friends. We are pissed at the Cabrillo board that ignored what we voters wanted.

    • Steve wants to change the name of Watsonville as well. Libtards want to erase history in California. Let’s just sit back and watch the show. Taxes are going up to 9.75% in Watsonville Steve claims that he cares about the brown and poor in town. If he did, a costly name change for the college would never happen
      In the end it will cost him out of his home.

      • I don’t agree with your comments abou “libitards”. I’m a liberal Democrat and don’t want the name changed. It’s stupid and will cost money Cabrillo doesn’t have. Every Democrat I know feels the same. The Cabrillo board never planned to take into consideration how the community and public feels about this. Let’s let them know how bad a decision it is by voting down every single measure they put forth begging for more $. That’s how to do it.

  3. I am so proud that so many realize that this wrong had to be corrected. Our college credo is diversity , equity and inclusion. this is just one reason why I ran for this office 2 years ago . those who hate these principles and hide in their anonymity below do not understand history, what a democracy is, or the purpose of education. Fortunately, 5 of my 6 colleagues on the board of trustees DO.

  4. If there must be a renaming, select a name that best expresses what is at the root of the educational goals of those who administer the affairs of the college.


    The cancel culture crusade continues to grow, seemingly unabated in America.

  5. Thank you, trustees, for knowing what’s best for us, despite the vast majority of the county’s ignorant racists.
    Let’s start getting the $900,000 dollars needed by cutting the presidents salary by $100,000 a year…..

    • why don’t you send that proposal to Matt Wetstein? it is certainly your right to do so.
      this decision is about doing the RIGHT THING. as Mark Twain said: ” ti is never the wrong time to do the right thing.” and we just did.

      • No problem Steve We will easily change the name back to Cabrillo College before the ink dries with a voter initiative. All we need is 10,213 signatures. We will stand out at the Cabrillo College Farmers Market every Saturday and get this on the ballet. Maybe we can even coincide this with a Steve Trujillo recall effort. Seems reasonable since you are putting your own agenda in front of your constituency.

        • I am putting the agenda of justice for those on whose land the college is built. you go right ahead with your petition. it is a guaranteed right of the first amendment. and there were 6 YES votes to change the name . I was not the only one. and i do not use an insulting and infantile fake name to promote my beliefs. you do. how about you be an adult and take responsibility for your actions? that would be a nice change .

          • Hey Steve! Need I remind you what happened to the San Francisco School Board?

            You should be recalled for the fact that you cannot formulate a sentence with proper prose and punctuation. How is somebody so deficient in English a college trustee? Your writing skills are abhorrent.

            Educators like yourself are the reason why California students are ranked in the lower 20%.

            Your idealogical agenda is self serving and does nothing to improve the quality of life for your constituency.

            Victim ideology is unproductive and arises only a more hostile society.

          • may I remind you that Cabrillo was not elected to ANYTHING in CA ? may remind you of what human trafficking is? may I remind you that CA and the USA have taken a human rights oath NOT to support genocide ?
            apparently, that slipped your grasp.
            and may I also remind you that UCSF removed the name of Serranus Hastings from the name of their law school 2 weeks ago? Hastings was a man who paid bounties to those miners who were successful in finding gold in the Sierra foothills in 1850 so he could claim their discovery.
            and , to top it off, 82 schools across the nation have renamed their campuses in the last 2 years. 3 community colleges in VA have changed their names: Lord Fairfax, Thomas Nelson and John Tyler. all 3 were slave owners. John Tyler was a feckless failure as a US president, although not as corrupt as trumpty dumpty.
            and , the last bill on Donald Trump’s desk was a defense dept. appropriations bill. he vetoed it. congress voted to override it. one major provision of the bill was to RENAME every single US military installation that was named for a confederate general. Felipe cited such an example: in voting to change the name: FT HOOD was changed to Fort Cavazos, the first EVER US installation named for a Latino. Felipe said this was very important to him as he served at Fort Hood in the early 2000’s.
            so your comparison does not hold water, nor is it applicable to this case
            and the best thing we can do for victims of genocide is to honor them. and renaming the college is one great way to do so. and that is what we are doing.
            may I also inform you that Donald J. Trump state park in New York is now being renamed Ruth Bader Ginsburg state park? what a great idea .
            you are clearly uninformed and misinformed about the idea of how to honor victims in injustice. thank God our attorney general has appointed a special prosecutor to oversee the pursuit of justice against the most vile POTUS in US history. Trump victimized millions of people in this nation during his reign of fascism. he loved to make victims of his poltical opponents. just like Stalin and Mussolini. just like Pol Pot and Idi Amin. why not take your finger out of your nose and oo some reading about international victims of evil people; maybe you will develop some new, healthy habits for your fingers as well. LOL !
            as to your recycled attack on my writing skills, I will repeat: I wrote the curriculum for the Mexican American class curriculum for the Salinas high school distict in 1992, i am a published author ( Conversations with Jesus; the forward short story for ‘1 Teacher in 10’ , second edition, published by Alyson Books. ). what bothers you is that i write NON FICTION, and all you compose is fiction, including your evaluation of my writing. My suggestion? get a Watsonville library card and use it. that will help you understand why fiction and non fiction are NOT the same. happy reading!

        • Hi
          I am leaving Watsonville definitely. I will follow this forum going forward to see what transpires. I believe, based on posts against the name change that Steven is in for a real challenge.
          Good for you and your fellow Watsonville citizens. I will contacting the mayor and city council to inform them of the personal attack on me by Steve.
          Please persuade others to put this to the voters and also petition to remove Steve from the board of trustees.
          Citizens of Watsonville must bring to the city the hatred spewed by Steven. My name is what is is my name and my family are proud American citizens.
          Please persue your aspirations to subdue this peon

          App holidays to all.
          Stephen Trujillo

          • want to spot hatred? look no further than Monique. read her ramblings. and your use of the word “peon” is racist and classist. yes, you may be named Trujillo, but the word “peon” has been used against Mexicans and all Latinos for hundreds of years. so I reject that word as applied to anyone. take a class in racial diversity. you can sign up online. you need it.
            and the word “subdue” implies the use of physical force against me . do i need to contact WPD about your veiled threat that I need to be subdued? check with the police for how they interpret the word. recall is NOT the same as subdue. get yourself a copy of Roget’s thesaurus. see for yourself.
            you can’t spell either. the word is spelled “pursue”, not persue. you are not well educated, to be sure.

          • WPD are you kidding me? HAHAHAHA
            You have no class so take one
            I have the money you can have Watsonville. See you in Vero!

            Bye bye Steve

            and you won’t see me in vero beach. FLA is a fascist state ruled by trumpty dumpty, prick snott and the preying mantis. you can have it !

            and you won’t see me in vero beach. FLA is a fascist state ruled by trumpty dumpty, prick snott and the preying mantis. you can have it !

  6. In one hundred years people will still call it Cabrillo College. And when the current trustees are voted out, it will revert back to Cabrillo College. Do the trustees really think that the public will associate the new name with the old place?

    • don’t count on it. and neither you nor I will be around in 100 years. and yes, I expect while it will be gradual, the people will come to accept the new name. people of color especially. I know that bothers you. and i am flattered by your fake name. imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
      in addition, you will have all 6 of us. and Felipe is headed for the county board of supervisors. are you going to attempt to recall him from his new job as well? good luck with that.

      • How narcissistic of you to think people want to impersonate you. You aren’t the only Trujillo as we have seen on this forum before.

        • I know that. he suggested we might be related. i checked my family tree . we are not. I have seen very few people with my surname on this website.

          • it does seem strange that his name appears only when a controversial vote happens at a board meeting, and it just happens to be similar to mine. NOT a coincidence. and you know it.

      • My name is real I have just moved here from SoCal to Watsonville
        I am sure are related somehow but our views are very different.
        I’m not trying to flatter anyone. My family is from Spain not Mexico however you do look like my Grandmother a little though. Have a nice Thanksgiving


        • Glad to see more trujillos who don’t think the same. There was another one on here as well and definitely different views than Steve as well thank goodness.

          • Hi Monique
            I have been here for eight months. My family own three family entertainment centers in Southern California. I came to Watsonville to open a family activity center in Watsonville
            Unfortunately, after reading all of the posts here on the local paper I am going to convince my family to invest in another area.
            I have never been made for feel more unwelcome in any other place. This city is hostile to business and with the rise in sales tax sealed the deal for me. We were looking at opening a Top Golf and bowling ally in Watsonville. Steven Trujillo, possibly a distant relatives comments on this form have convinced me that this is NOT a welcoming place to invest in. I will be moving away from Watsonville in January and taking my families money with me. Good luck with Watsonville.

            Thank you for your kind words

            Stephen Trujillo

          • Oh wow that would have been an awesome addition to our town but yeah you are correct we the people do not feel welcomed here. If you don’t fall in line with Steve’s narrative then you are simply a “rethuglican” as he likes to call us. My family and I are moving away next year as well. Best of luck on your journey and may you find a welcoming town worthy of the income your business will bring in.