Lewis & Clark’s student government, the Associated Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC), has changed the name of their organization to Associated Student Body (ASB). The bill passed in a 12-3 vote.
In an Instagram post from ASB, now @asb97219_, posted on Nov. 23, ASB wrote, “In changing our name, we use this opportunity to demonstrate directly to admin that we as students do not want to be affiliated with the history of Lewis & Clark.”
The announcement came after a campus-wide email sent out by ASB President Sarah Lind-MacMillan on Nov. 10. In the email, Lind-MacMillan shared a survey that urged students to share their thoughts surrounding a possible change that would remove “Lewis & Clark” from the organization’s name.
“The idea for the change came in response to student calls for the school to drop its association with Lewis & Clark,” Lind-MacMillan said via email. “While the student government does not control the name of the college, we do have the ability to change the name of our own organization.”
Anna Lee Hinkle ’25 is a new ASB senator this year. Despite mainly being involved in just voting to help pass the name change bill, they described the ASB name change as a big passion of theirs.
“I am really proud of the (ASB) name change,” Hinkle said. “I feel like it’s been a long time coming and it’s something that definitely needs to happen with the school and not just ASB, but I feel like that subtle change is really nice to show (the Board of Trustees) that we actually care about this so much that we will change what we call ourselves, even if they won’t change the school.”
Additionally, Hinkle was in support of the student survey, as they felt it was helpful to see how students actually felt about the potential name change.
According to ASB Vice-President Olivia Weiss, the current name change is not permanent and students are welcome to submit any recommendations they have. However, ASB currently plans on moving the conversation surrounding names to an institutional level.
Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students Robin Holmes-Sullivan is currently leading the committee “What’s in a name,” composed of members from all three campuses. The group is working together to address concerns raised by the LC community regarding the complex history of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s names being attached to the institution.
Each campus elected members from their student governments and Native Student Unions (NSU), as well as various administrators, to the committee. Weiss and Lind-Macmillan, along with members of LC CAS’s NSU leaders Annabelle Rousseau ’23 and Alberto Partida ’22, currently sit on the committee.
The committee will be planning an event, set to take place in February, that will allow community members to engage with the topic.
While Weiss believes that most members of the committee feel that the college’s name should be changed, they will not be inserting their opinions into the discussion. Instead, the purpose of the event will be to educate the community on the history and significance of naming.
“An important distinction that we’ve also been working out in the committee is that we are not going to be making a recommendation on if we should change the name, we’re just going to plan an event around allowing our community to engage with the name and (allow them) to come up with those opinions on their own,” Weiss said.
According to ASB’s Instagram, the organization hopes that their work will urge the Board of Trustees to change the name of the school, while acknowledging that their role in the decision is ultimately very small.
“The reality is that a decision like changing the name of “Lewis & Clark” comes from above and is entirely in the hands of the Board of Trustees,” The Nov. 23 Instagram post reads. “The Board of Trustees and the Executive Council are two separate bodies that work to decide the direction of the college.”
The Board of Trustees meets three times a year, but student involvement at these meetings is usually limited to sitting in to observe.
The February event “seeks to bring together a variety of stakeholders to understand what is the best way forward for the school,” according to ASB’s instagram. The committee is planning on releasing more details.