cabrillo college
Cabrillo College Watsonville Center. —file photo by Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

APTOS—On Nov. 14, the Cabrillo College Governing Board will meet to answer a question that has been vexing Santa Cruz County for two years: should the name of its community college be changed?

The effort to possibly change Cabrillo College’s name began in 2020, as the Black Lives Matter movement gained steam and inspired institutions and jurisdictions to take a look at what names they placed on their buildings and institutions.

Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo has been lauded for exploring the West Coast of the Americas around 1542. Historians say he was on a mission to map the coast to the north and chart a course to China, find a route from Europe above Canada to the Pacific and establish trade relations with China.

It was on this mission that he discovered the winter wind patterns and southern pacific trading current, and helped establish the beginning of trade with China and the greater Pacific Basin.

But that is contradicted by his other image—one of a murderous conqueror who stole occupied land and enslaved and brutalized the Amah Mutsun people who already lived here.

Proponents of the name change say they do not want the college to bear the name of a person who embodies the essence of European imperialism. 

Adam Spickler, who sits on the Cabrillo College Name Exploration Subcommittee, said the group did widespread community-wide outreach, as well as delved deeply into the issue.

Spickler declined to say what recommendation the subcommittee will bring to the board in November. If the board decides the name change will move forward, the subject of the new name will be the next topic of discussion.

Spickler added that the move to change Cabrillo College’s name moves far beyond a binary yes-no issue.

“There are some important truths that are fundamental for everybody who cares about the name of our college,” Spickler said. “No matter what perspective is held, it is rooted in deeply caring about what is best for the college so that the students attending and the staff working there are really getting and giving the best educational experience possible.”

The meeting agenda has not yet been posted. Visit the Governing Board’s website for information.

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General assignment reporter, covering nearly every beat. I specialize in feature stories, but equally skilled in hard and spot news. Pajaronian/Good Times/Press Banner reporter honored by CSBA.


  1. thank you, Todd, for the article.
    I look forward, as one trustee, not representing what the other trustees may do, or the college, in VOTING YES to the name change. I have reiterated my reasons many times on this website. the time has come to repay the debt we owe to the Ohlone people who preceded us on this land , and take the name of the horrific genocidal barbarian from our college. Visit to discover the truth about Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo.

  2. There is far more important things to be discussing than a name change.

    Why don’t they take the money for the name change and apply it students who need money for college or put it to better use that would help the students?

      • 60 years Steve?

        “On Nov. 14, the Cabrillo College Governing Board will meet to answer a question that has been vexing Santa Cruz County for two years”

        Typical democrat exaggerating.

        • yes, this mistake was made 60 years ago. the board met in secret and broke the law. it is called the Brown Act. to make public policy , any school board or college board must discuss this at a public meeting and allow public input. did not happen. they broke CA state law. this info comes from history professor Sandy Lydon. i learned this from him.
          and now you know. why not enroll in my online American government class and DECREASE your ignorance?
          I was the one who raised the issue two years ago as part of my campaign to be elected. my opponent, Ed Banks , largely ignored the issue. well, Monique, I won with more than 60 percent of the vote. that should tell you my constituents approved of my proposal . enough said.

    • you are unaware of the many grants from state and federal government sources providing that kind of help to students. many of them have been reported here on the Pajaronian. obviously, you could not care less. there are a variety of programs for financial aid for students. contact the school and find out.

  3. Only a tiny amount of people polled last year even remotely cared about or supported the name change.
    More mis-spent time and money by a governing board that sees education as a venue for social agendas, rather than providing education the community wants- job enhanceing skills/training, etc..
    No wonder the community keeps giving Cabrillo a vote of no confidence in the last 2 bond issues.

      • After seeing how the college is run and money is spent/wasted, there’s alot of Cabrillo instructors and employees that haven’t supported the last bonds…(our family has been involved in Cabrillo since it’s inception.)

        • The college never gets anything done because they have 40 committees! It’s a bureaucratic nightmare!
          The college is also in huge financial danger once their enrollment right sizes to the amount of people attending. They can’t even hire business office management staff, likely because no decent applicants will go any where near the college!

        • good for you. but i did not vote for the President’s increase in pay. neither did Felipe Hernandez. i think $275, 000 a year is enough.

          and many students and staff support the name change. i know . i receive their emails and support. you do not. so you are misinformed. you are not a trustee.
          The two individuals I encountered Saturday at Advanced Blind and Shade were very supportive of the name change. they both indicated they had attended Cabrillo.
          and i have met with many individuals who were receptive to the idea as well. so your statement that few people support the idea is factually incorrect.
          again, I write this as ONE trustee, speaking for myself only, not the other trustees or the college.

        • My dad was one of the original planners, staff and he helped create the electronics/computer division. We have always supported Cabrillo but if they change the name, no more money goes to them.

    • we had 53 percent YES of the vote in the last bond election. We needed 55 percent. I went door to door campaigning for it. DID YOU? My predecessor on the board DID NOTHING. this is one reason why I ran for the office in Nov. 2020. i ran on a platform of change, including the college name. i won with more than 60 percent of the vote in district 7. I have a mandate from my voters to vote to change the name. and I WILL, no matter what the college view is, or what my fellow trustees do. I speak for myself here, and I am proud to represent badly needed change for our community college.

  4. Evidently someone has suggested the name be changed from Cabrillo College to Trujillo College.

    That way, only the first four letters would have to be changed on signage, saving the tax payers a ton of money.

    After all, he is a trustee and he claims he once won a writing award there. How about that voters?

    Its odd that ST plans to vote yes on the name change when options have not yet been revealed.

    • Steve has already admitted that even if every single one of his constituents was against the name change, he would still vote to change the name.
      So much for representing your constituents.

      • Steve doesn’t realize that the Ohlone tribe raped, murdered and enslaved other tribes to maintain the coast, long before Cabrillo arrived.

          • your ignorance of history speaks volumes about your lack of education or even do a minimal amount of research. pathetic.

          • the government is not trying to save ME, Monique. we are looking at an injustice of 60 years. and we can do something about making it right. look at and seek out Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo to see what htey write about him. otherwise, you are a lost cause NO, you cannot rewrite what evil has happened, but you can help correct the record and honor people that you wish to trash. pathetic attitude.
            you need a library card. and then USE IT.
            and as a retired teacher of seniors in high school with American government classes, it is clear to me that you flunked the class. your lack of knowledge about all forms of government, including the roles of boards of trustees at our 108 CA community colleges is staggering.

  5. there are many reasons why we are considering a name change. if you have not been following the story the last two years, perhaps you need to attend the meeting on zoom on Monday, Nov. 14. you will get educated.


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