Yale keeps name of college tied to 19th century slavery defender

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 27, 2016 8:26 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Yale University will keep the name of its Calhoun College, named after former U.S. Vice President John Calhoun, despite objections by students unhappy with its association with a prominent defender of slavery, the school said on Wednesday.

The Ivy League school in Connecticut, which is among several universities that have recently faced calls to dissociate themselves from symbols associated with racism, said it hoped its decision would encourage the campus to confront the history of slavery.

It also said it would change the title of the officers who lead its 12 undergraduate residential colleges to head of college from master, a term some people connected to slavery.

"We cannot erase American history but we can confront it, teach it, and learn from it," Yale President Peter Salovey said in a statement.

"The decision to retain Calhoun College's name reflects the importance of this vital educational imperative."

Yale also said one of two undergraduate residential colleges under construction would be named for late civil rights activist and 1965 Yale Law School graduate Pauli Murray. The other college will be named for Benjamin Franklin, a founding father and Yale honorary degree recipient.

A recent survey by the university's student newspaper, the Yale Daily News, found that 55 percent of more than 1,700 respondents supported renaming Calhoun College. About 82 percent supported naming at least one of the new residential colleges after a woman or person of color.

(This story has been corrected in sixth paragraph to say that Pauli Murray graduated from Yale Law School in 1965)

(Reporting by Marcus E. Howard; Editing by Peter Cooney)