Yale University announced Wednesday that it will retain the name Calhoun College on one of its 12 residential colleges. The college was named for John C. Calhoun, a 19th0-century alumnus and a fervent supporter of slavery.
The decision brings to a close months of deliberation on the issue, and it likely represents an unsatisfying decision for many in the Yale community who believed the name should be replaced.
In a press release, Yale said the decision to retain Calhoun’s name was made “to encourage the campus community to confront the history of slavery, and to teach that history and its legacy.”
In a related controversy, Yale has had a residential college system, with separate, self-governed colleges each led by a faculty member referred to as a “master.” The university said it would change that title to “head of college,” after some students and alumni rejected the term’s connection to slavery.
In September, the staff at the Yale Daily News, the oldest independent college daily newspaper, also joined in the debate, calling for an end to the title of master at Yale.
Master is not an appropriate term in today’s society, the paper argued.
“When a black student is asked to address an authority figure as ‘master’ — and especially when serving that person, as students do in their capacity as ‘master’s aides’ — the association can be disempowering,” the Daily News wrote.
The publication further argued that removing the title would not fundamentally change any part of Yale’s history or identity, but would be a substantial step in making the Yale community more inclusive.
Yale explained the decision to the title “master” hinged on current heads of the colleges no longer feeling comfortable being addressed with that title.