Yale Changes Name of Controversial Calhoun College

By Patrick Barron, National News Writer

Yale University announced that it would be removing former Vice President John C. Calhoun’s name from one of their residential colleges. Prior to the abolition of slavery in 1865, the 1804 Yale graduate was a committed slavery supporter and advocate for states’ rights. According to USA Today, the university will rename the said residential college after Navy Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, who was a pioneering computer scientist.

In an article posted on the university’s website, Yale explained that “the decision to change a college’s name is not one we take lightly, but John C. Calhoun’s legacy as a white supremacist and a national leader who passionately promoted slavery as a ‘positive good’ fundamentally conflicts with Yale’s mission and values.”

There have been debates for several years over renaming the names of buildings that were named after controversial persons. As part of the ongoing discussion, the residential college contained a controversial stained glass window that depicted a black man in shackles who kneeling before Calhoun. The window was later altered, replacing the figure of the slave with plain panes of glass.

In April of 2016, university president Peter Salovey responded to controversy taking an initial position that the Calhoun name would remain, according to USA Today. Later that year in August, Salovey created the Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming in August in which several Yale faculty members and alumni took part.

Resulting from meetings, the committee made four principles to consider in similar scenarios. The principles are: “whether the person’s principal legacy fundamentally conflicts with the university’s mission, whether that legacy was contested during the namesake’s lifetime, why the university honored that person” and last “whether the building has a significant role in forming a community at Yale.”

The board of trustees at the university voted to rename the college after Hopper, who earned her doctorate from the university in 1934. President Salovery said of their selection: “An extraordinary mathematician and a senior naval officer, Hopper achieved eminence in fields historically dominated by men. Today, her principal legacy is all around us — embodied in the life-enhancing technology she knew would become commonplace. Grace Murray Hopper College thus honors her spirit of innovation and public service while looking fearlessly to the future.”

After hearing of the name change, students taped over the nameplate for Calhoun College with Hopper’s name in celebration.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 21st print edition.

Contact Patrick at

patrick.barron@student.shu.edu

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