Cleveland-Marshall College of Law naming committee votes to strike “Marshall” from name by commencement

The Law School Naming Committee and faculty voted to change the Marshall name, but CSU is unlikely to honor their timeline.

Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Photo courtesy of Cleveland State University

Read our previous coverage: Students, city council, and more call for the removal of “Marshall” name from College of Law

Last month, the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Naming Committee voted to recommend to the CSU Board of Trustees, who have the final say in the matter, to remove references to Chief Justice John Marshall. This is because of his well-documented history as a slave owner and his racist judicial decisions.

The long-awaited vote was the culmination of a process that began in the summer of 2020, with a petition directed at both CM Law and the University of Illinois Chicago John Marshall Law School. Now, nearly two years later, the process is nearing completion.

With 31 members, including students, alumni, faculty, and staff, the final vote was 21 for changing the name, six for keeping the name, and one abstention. CM Law faculty also voted independently on the issue, affirming the Naming Committee’s decision, with 11 votes for changing the name and five for keeping the name. 14 faculty members did not take part.

An online survey also collected responses from alumni, current students, staff, and other community stakeholders. A majority of alumni showed they wanted to keep the Law School’s current name, but a majority or plurality of all the other stakeholder groups indicated they want to change the Law School name.

Both the faculty and the Naming Committee recommended the change happen by commencement, May 15th. However, the Board of Trustees will not vote on this issue at their last scheduled opportunity to do so, a general meeting on March 17, in order to allow for revisions to CSU policy “regarding naming of entities, units and spaces.” The policy, currently under review by CSU General Counsel, will soon be posted for a 30 day public review and comment period, according to an update from CM Law Dean Lee Fisher.

This is expected to push back the timeline of the renaming vote. The possibility remains of a special meeting being called at the request of the Board of Trustees Chair, Key Bank executive David Reynolds, or three board members. There has been no sign that this option will be pursued.

Students Against Marshall, a group of law students organizing to remove the Marshall name, have shared their support for the development of this policy but asserted that “it does not need to precede the removal of “Marshall” from the law college. Removing and renaming can and must be treated as separate issues.”

Students Against Marshall have submitted a request to present their case at the Board of Trustee’s March 17th meeting, and are awaiting a response, according to a press release from the organization.

This is a developing story and will be updated as new information becomes available.

Students can learn more about Students Against Marshall on Instagram. Additional information is available on their Linktree.

CM Law has compiled official documents in their Summary of Findings and Information on Law School Name Issue report. Town halls and forums are available on the Law School Name Committee website.

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