Yale University to Drop White Supremacist John Calhoun’s Name From Building

article by Noah Remnick via nytimes.com

After a swelling tide of protests, the president of Yale announced today that the university would change the name of a residential college commemorating John C. Calhoun, the 19th-century white supremacist statesman from South Carolina. The college will be renamed for Grace Murray Hopper, a trailblazing computer scientist and Navy rear admiral who received a master’s degree and a doctorate from Yale.

The decision was a stark reversal of the university’s decision last spring to maintain the name despite broad opposition. Though the president, Peter Salovey, said that he was still “concerned about erasing history,” he said that “these are exceptional circumstances.”

“I made this decision because I think it is the right thing to do on principle,” Mr. Salovey said on a conference call with reporters. “John C. Calhoun’s principles, his legacy as an ardent supporter of slavery as a positive good, are at odds with this university.”

Mr. Salovey and the other members of the Yale Corporation, the university’s governing body, made their decision after an advisory committee unanimously recommended the renaming. The school is still determining when exactly the change will be carried out, but Mr. Salovey said it would be by fall at the latest.

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Calhoun College, which will be renamed to honor Grace Murray Hopper. (ANDREW SULLIVAN FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Students reacted with joy to a change many said was long overdue. “There’s a huge sense of relief and celebration,” said Rianna Johnson-Levy, 21, a senior from Ann Arbor, Mich., who was involved in the protests. “Students of color have been fighting for this change for decades and it’s hard to believe this day is finally here.”

Online, some students found inspiration in a quotation from Ms. Hopper, who died in 1992. “Humans are allergic to change,” she once said. “They love to say, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’ I try to fight that.”

Calhoun, the nation’s seventh vice president, attended Yale and was its valedictorian.  The name of the college incited controversy almost as soon as it opened in 1933. Many black students staged demonstrations and referred to the college, which was decorated with depictions of slaves carrying bales of cotton, as the “Calhoun Plantation.” Opposition may have peaked in 2015, after the massacre of nine worshipers at a black church in Charleston. The killings, by an avowed white supremacist, prompted protests that led to the removal of the Confederate battle flag outside the South Carolina Statehouse and elsewhere.

To read full article, go to: Yale Will Drop John Calhoun’s Name From Building – NYTimes.com

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