Author: Daniel Horowitz & Ben DeLuca
Upon returning for the spring semester, students may have noticed that the on-campus road formerly known as Coons Road is now labelled AGC Road. The new name seems to be the result of a protest last semester involving a campus activist group known as the Coalition.
The group distributed fliers with its mission statement and a list of incidents and issues it was concerned about. The Coalition requested that the name Coons Administration Building be changed. Although the building is named after a former Occidental President, “Coons” is also a derogatory term.
The administration took the Coalition’s sentiments into account, but noted it was not possible to change the name of the building. However, changing the name of the road was a possibility. Communications Director Jim Tranquada claims that the initiative to change the name of the road came from within the administration.
Renaming Coons Road is “a clarification to reduce potential misunderstanding,” Tranquada said.
In addition, administrators committed to being conscientious about how they referred to the building, both informally and in official correspondence, according to the Coalition.
“We’re working closely with them,” Dean Avery said, referring to the Coalition. “I think changes will be made that help the whole campus.”
Some other changes that Avery mentioned include improving the student sensitivity training during first-year orientation and hiring a consultant to assess the campus climate.
This will lead to “more meaningful conversation,” Avery said.
The Coalition was first created last year as a response to what its members saw as unfair allocation of ASOC funds. The organization was continued this year to respond to a wider variety of diversity issues on campus.
“The Coalition is a response to very little institutional support” to students from different backgrounds Coalition Facilitator Keeya Bighorse (senior) said.
The “AGC Road” is a temporary change. According to both Tranquada and Avery, the plan was to rename the street to Arthur G. Coons Road, and Tranquada attributes the current name to an order error with the sign manufacturer.
Some students might wonder why there has been no public statement from the administration about the name change. According to Avery, administrators have simply been “too busy” so far this semester and will issue a statement soon.
As the Coalition works closely with administrators to improve the campus’s atmosphere, Avery has high hopes for the future. The Coalition is “representing the student population very well” and “the work [administrators are] doing with the Coalition is very good work” that will “help the whole campus,” she said.
The Coalition is a “guarded community,” that bases its work on Occidental’s mission statement, it says. Kaitlyn Toyama (Junior), Coalition Facilitator, and Bighorse, know about students’ attitudes toward the Coalition and “wish that people were more open to it.”
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