CSU-SJ name change fails

by Mar 22, 2007 12:00 am

San Jose State University students this week voted down attempts to change the school's name, with 75 percent of students casting 'no' votes.

The issue drew students to the ballot boxes, with some voting just on the name change and neglecting the larger Associated Students election, said Heather Lou, an A.S. election board member.

The wording of the issue, which would add a second name – California State University, San Jose – to the school's identity, confused so many students that election workers were forced to make a sign simplifying the issue: Vote yes if you want to change the school's name; Vote no if you want to keep the name as it is, Lou said.

Six out of seven students interviewed Wednesday after leaving the election tent outside the Student Union said they voted against the name change initiative, most saying they had heard about the issue from newspapers or seen it on television news.

"We have 150 years of history here," said marketing major Mathew McCulloch, 23, who voted against the initiative. "San Jose State is a well-known name in the community and among Silicon Valley companies."

"The name is too long," said industrial design major Katrina Tech, 21, who also voted against the initiative. "California State University San Jose doesn't sound the same as San Jose State, which just rolls off your tongue."

A small group of students organized the initiative last month, gathering 151 signatures to place the issue on the ballot.

They argue that SJSU is known regionally, but does not have a strong enough name to attract out-of-the-area students.

"There is a tremendous amount of power with the name of California," said alumnus Michael Harold, 48, who helped organize the initiative. "California is a name recognizable worldwide, almost like a phenomenon, almost like a legend."

Wednesday afternoon, before the votes were tallied, Harold said he wasn't confident the issue would win, saying the school was trying to "suppress the issue" and "distort the facts."

Even if students had approved the issue, the initiative holds no legal weight and would have been viewed as simply an advisory vote, Richard Kelley, director of student activities, said in a previous interview.

Although the issue lost, Harold said he plans to take the issue up with the CSU Board of Trustees directly, to lobby for the secondary name.

School administrators oppose the secondary name, and the CSU Board of Trustees would likely be hesitant to take up the issue without the support of SJSU officials, Kelley said.

2,548 of students voted in the election this year, up significantly from last year, when just 469 students cast votes, said Teri Poucher, A.S.'s chief election's officer.

In 2004, 1,931 students voted in the campus election, and in 2005, 1,647 students voted, Poucher said.

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