University of Colorado Boulder student group UMAS y MECHA is petitioning to stop the renaming of Temporary Building 1, one of the oldest buildings on campus and the site of 1974 student protests against the university’s treatment of Mexican American and Chicano students.
Chancellor Phil DiStefano announced in December that the campus would seek approval from the system’s Board of Regents in February to rename Temporary Building 1 after former professor Albert Ramírez and his late wife, Vera Ramírez.
The Ramírezes hosted informal Sunday gatherings in their home for students of color and underrepresented students, and Albert Ramírez was among the first tenure-track faculty from an underrepresented group to be hired in 1971, according to the university. He went on to become an administrator, advocate for programs like the Center for the Studies of Ethnicity and Race in America and founded the Equity and Excellence Awards Ceremony.
A second resolution seeks to rename the Education Building after Lucile Berkeley Buchanan, the first African American woman to graduate from CU Boulder and who was not allowed to walk at her commencement ceremony in 1918.
In a letter attached to the petition, UMAS y MECHA leaders wrote that they recognize the important contributions the Ramírezes made to campus.
But renaming Temporary Building 1 without seeking input from community members or students with such strong ties to it is “another thinly veiled attempt to obscure the history of student protests at CU,” the group wrote.
CU Boulder junior and UMAS y MECHA member Mateo Vela said the group was unaware there was a plan to rename Temporary Building 1.
“There was a lot of confusion and disappointment around the lack of transparency in this process, especially given a lot of the activism UMAS y MECHA has done around TB-1 with the 1974 occupation and the Los Seis bombings,” Vela said.
Students are instead proposing that CU Boulder name a different campus building after the Ramírezes and name Temporary Building 1 in honor of Ricardo Falcon, an alumnus, founding member of UMAS and assistant director of the equal opportunity program that focused on recruiting and retaining Mexican American and Chicano students.
Falcon was shot and killed at a gas station in 1972 in Oro Grande, New Mexico, on his way to the La Raza Unida National Conference.
Two years later, CU Boulder students occupied Temporary Building 1 for 18 days to protest program cuts and missing financial aid payments. During that time, six current and former CU Boulder students were killed in two car bombings within days of each other.
“The university has long tried to silence the history of student struggle on campus,” UMAS y MECHA leaders wrote. “Dismissing the contributions of UMAS students, Los Seis and Ricardo has been the strategy.”
In a statement, spokesperson Deborah Méndez Wilson said campus leaders are working to set up virtual meetings with student leaders to hear their concerns and consider ways to incorporate their views.
“The university recognizes and honors the Chicano rights movement of the 1970s and the students today who want to keep this important chapter of the nation’s historic civil rights movement alive in the minds and hearts of Americans,” she wrote.
The proposed name, “the Albert and Vera Ramírez at Temporary Building 1,” honors both its historical ties to student activism as well as the Ramírezes’ efforts to address concerns of the Chicano rights movement, Wilson said.