Special Reports

Should Yale University Change Its Name?


Back in April, Yale University president Peter Salovey confirmed that the institution was keeping the name of Calhoun College. There were protests about how John C. Calhoun, a 19th-century alumnus and with whom the building is named after, was an ardent supporter of slavery.

ABC News reported that Yale University has announced last Monday, Aug. 1, that it is reconsidering the decision to preserve the name of a residential college. "Many faculty, students, alumni, and staff have raised significant and moving concerns about that decision, and it is now clear to me that the community-wide conversation about these issues could have drawn more effectively on campus expertise," Salovey said.

There has been a lot of controversy around the name of Calhoun College. It gained new attention last year, though, when protesters on various campuses across the country urged universities to address the legacies of historical figures.

John C. Calhoun was a member of Yale's 1804 class. He was a U.S. vice president and senator from South Carolina.

Salovey added that he has created a new committee to create guidelines for proposals to remove historical names from university buildings. Petitions will be reconsidered after the committee's work has been completed.

Meanwhile, according to The Wall Street Journal, instead of focusing on Calhoun, Yale University should start at the top - with Elihu Yale. Apparently, the philanthropist who helped found the institution was notorious for slave trade.

It was noted that Yale always made sure that ships leaving his jurisdiction for Europe carried a minimum of 10 slaves. The publication suggested that the Ivy League university's committee, the Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming, start by renaming the school's name, not just its buildings.

Other Ivy League universities such as Princeton, Stanford, Georgetown and Harvard, among others, have also faced protests on buildings, programs and legacies that should be renamed to accommodate modern sensitivities. Amherst College dropped Lord Jeffrey Amherst as its mascot for being unkind to Indians while the University of Missouri students made a petition to remove a statue of Thomas Jefferson for being a "racist rapist."

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