Celebrating the newly renamed Campesino Forum
'An historic decision': Renaming of the Forums
October 09, 2022

Delta College Superintendent/President Dr. Lisa Aguilera Lawrenson sent the following message to campus:

On Oct. 4, 2022, an historic decision was made by the San Joaquin Delta College Board of Trustees. They approved the building renaming of three forums on campus. The North Forum will be named the Tony Fitch Forum, the West Forum will be named the Mabalon Forum, and the South Forum will be named Campesino Forum.

These building renaming requests came from campus community members to honor the accomplishments of individuals within their communities. As we work toward our goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion, the campus environment is an important aspect of student retention. Having our students and community members see others like themselves reflected in the names of our buildings on our campus matters to our students, staff, and our faculty.

The North Forum will be renamed after Professor Tony Fitch. He dedicated 47 years of service to helping countless students realize their professional and personal goals. He was an important voice advocating for tutorial and mentoring programs and for supporting African American students, and he had a generous spirit, a warm disposition, and he believed students who were challenged by socioeconomic, academic, and/or language barriers could achieve academically, personally, and professionally.

Delta Professor Tony Fitch
Professor Tony Fitch

The West Forum will be renamed for Dr. Dawn Mabalon. Dr. Mabalon passed away unexpectedly at the age of 45 while she was on vacation in Kauai with her family. She was a champion in the Filipino community, a nationally recognized scholar, passionate community activist, respected historian, and award-winning author. Her book, "Little Manila is in the Heart: The Making of the Filipino American Community in Stockton, California," elevated the histories of Filipinos in Stockton to a national level and provided an important historical perspective for generations to come. The West Forum will now be known as the Mabalon Forum.

Dr. Dawn Mabalon
Dr. Dawn Mabalon

And lastly, the South Forum will be renamed the Campesino Forum. The Campesino farmworker is rooted in the tradition flow from the First Nations peoples to the Spanish-Mexican early Californians, those from the Dust Bowl, the Braceros, African Americans, Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, Southeast Asians, and many more. The renaming of the South Forum to Campesino Forum will pay homage to the labor and activism of the farmworkers of this region who contributed to the agriculture and economic development of San Joaquin Delta College's region, and that includes members of my own family, I'm proud to say.

Celebrating the newly renamed Campesino Forum
Celebrating the newly renamed Campesino Forum. Photo courtesy Professor Adriana Brogger

The renaming of these forums matters. It matters because our students will recognize that the contributions of their families, their relatives, and their communities are recognized by the San Joaquin Delta College district. The renaming matters because it makes the communities visible, prominent, and public on our campus. If we want our students to be able to achieve their potential and live their dreams, they must believe in themselves. They must believe that academia sees them, acknowledges them, understands them. The renaming of these forums helps to build that bridge to our students.

For a student to come to campus, especially post-pandemic, they have to see and feel the payoff for them personally. An environment that reflects their experiences and acknowledges their humanity is an important step on that journey.

I thank the faculty, staff, students, administrators, and the Board of Trustees for bringing forward and supporting these important changes for our students now and in the future.

Editor's note: Watch comments from Delta alumna Dolores Huerta by clicking here.

Vice President Dr. Lonita Cordova, Superintendent/President Dr. Lisa Aguilera Lawrenson, and Professor Mario Moreno celebrate the newly renamed Campesino Forum
Trustee Janet Rivera, Superintendent/President Dr. Lisa Aguilera Lawrenson, and Professor Mario Moreno celebrate the newly renamed Campesino Forum at Delta College. Photo courtesy Professor Adriana Brogger.