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San Joaquin Delta College has renamed three forum buildings to honor community members, following a vote from the college’s Board of Trustees last week.

The North Forum is now named the Tony Fitch Forum, the West Forum was changed to the Mabalon Forum and the South Forum is now called Campesino Forum.

Delta College said the request to rename the buildings came from campus community members who wanted to honor accomplishments of individuals within their communities.

“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,” Delta College officials said in an announcement.

Mentoring, scholarship, activism

Professor Tony Fitch has worked for 47 years mentoring students to help them reach their academic goals. (Photo courtesy of San Joaquin Delta College)

The Tony Fitch Forum was named after a professor who has worked for 47 years helping students realize their professional and personal goals, according to the announcement from the college.

Fitch advocated for tutoring and mentoring programs, support for African American students, and believed that students challenged by socioeconomic, academic or language barriers could succeed academically, personally and professionally.

The college decided to name the West Forum after Dawn Mabalon, a nationally recognized scholar, a passionate community activist, historian and an award-winning author.

Mabalon, a leader in the Filipino community, wrote a book titled “Little Manila is in the Heart: The Making of the Filipino American Community in Stockton, California.

Dr. Dawn Mabalon was a champion of the Filipino community, activist and author. (Photo courtesy of San Joaquin Delta College)

According to Delta College, the book elevated the histories of Filipinos in Stockton to a national level and gave a historical viewpoint for future generations.

Mabalon died in 2018 at the age of 45 while on vacation with her family in Kauai.

The renaming of the South Forum to the Campesino Forum was intended to recognize the labor and activism of the farmworkers in the region who contributed to the agriculture and economic development of the colleges region.

Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is a Delta College alumni. In a Delta College video, Huerta said that the name change was important because it’s a tribute to the farmworkers who put food on the table every day.

“We have to recognize the people who feed us,” Huerta said.

The name changes took effect immediately following the vote.

Victoria Franco is a reporter based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Bay City News Foundation and its nonprofit news site Local News Matters. She is a Report for America corps member.