Despite student protests, Yale University announced Wednesday that it will continue to name one of its residential colleges in honor of former Vice President John C. Calhoun, who was an alumnus and fierce 19th century defender of slavery. But faculty at the colleges will no longer have the title “master,” NBC News reports.
Yale University President Peter Salovey said the decision to keep Calhoun’s name is about confronting the past.
He issued this statement, via Yale News:
“Ours is a nation that often refuses to face its own history of slavery and racism. Yale is part of that history. We cannot erase American history but we can confront it, teach it, and learn from it. The decision to retain Calhoun College’s name reflects the importance of this vital educational imperative.”
Perhaps as a compromise, Yale decided to eliminate the title “master” from the faculty members who reside in the 12 residential colleges assigned randomly to students. Instead, they will be addressed as the “head of college,” according to NBC News.
Harvard University announced the same decision in February. Its 24 faculty residential house leaders are now addressed as “faculty deans,” the Harvard Crimson reported.
Also on Wednesday, Princeton University declined to erase former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s name from two campus building, reports the Washington Post. Wilson, an alumnus, was an unabashed segregationist. Princeton, however, agreed to remove a huge portrait of the former president from a dining hall.
While Yale refused to erase Calhoun’s memory, the university said it would name two new residential colleges opening next year after Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray.
Salovey praised Franklin and Murray as “life-long learners who believed in the power of education to transform individuals and society,” according to Yale News.
Murray was a civil rights activist and the first Black woman ordained as an Episcopal priest.