NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Yale University has decided after all to change the name of the much-debated and controversial Calhoun College. The decision overrides Yale President Peter Salovey’s own announcement in April of last year.
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John C. Calhoun, the 19th century vice president and staunch supporter of slavery, was a Yale graduate from South Carolina.
Salovey summed up the decision in part with the this statement:
“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.”
Soon to replace the Calhoun name will be that of Grace Murray Hopper, a distinguished mathematician who earned a doctorate from Yale before going on to become a successful pioneer in computer programming.
The Calhoun name has been a controversy for decades, but things really heated up in 2015 when the country was embroiled in debate over the vestiges of racist symbols in the aftermath of the Charleston church massacre. Protests broke out around Yale’s campus over several cultural issues. Even last Friday, four people were arrested when they sat down in the middle of Elm Street in protest against the Calhoun name.
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Not everyone is happy with the decision to remove the Calhoun name. Geraldo Riviera announced he’s quitting an associate fellow position at Calhoun College, over what he calls an intolerant insistence on political correctness. Riviera went on to say on Twitter; “Slavery was abhorrent sin. Will #Yale students now petition to change name of #USA capital? #Washington was a slave holder as was #Jefferson”.
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) February 13, 2017
Salovey and the Yale Board of Trustees made the final decision. In response to Riviera’s comments, Salovey said they respect his decision, but that the Calhoun name is being removed because of principle and not political correctness.
“It is now clear to me, too, that the name of Calhoun College must change. Yale has changed magnificently over the past 300 years and will continue to evolve long after our time; today we have the opportunity to move the university forward in a way that reinforces our mission and core values,” said Salovey.