Yale University President Peter Salovey announced on Saturday that the university would rename Calhoun College, a residential building named after alumnus John C. Calhoun, The Daily Beast reports. Instead, the building will be named after Grace Murray Hopper, a revolutionary computer scientist who received her master's and doctorate degree at Yale. The decision came after several years of persistent campus protests over the fact that the the building's old namesake, Calhoun, was a known supporter of slavery.
"The decision to change a college’s name is not one we take lightly," Salovey said of the decision. "But John C. Calhoun’s legacy as a white supremacist and a national leader who passionately supported slavery as a 'positive good' fundamentally conflicts with Yale’s mission and values." The decision falls under the category of 'better late than never.' Last spring, the President defended the name of the building amidst protests, but the persistent opposition continued and finally gave way to the renaming.
It's difficult to imagine how alienating it must have felt to be a black student at Yale while a 19th century white supremacist's name was emblazoned across a prominent campus building. And it raises the question of the University's priorities, as Salovey stated that he was still "concerned about erasing history," by changing the name of the building, even though he went through with it. According to The New York Times, the building's name sparked controversy as soon as it happened in 1933. Even if Calhoun was the 7th Vice President of the United States, and even if he was the valedictorian of Yale (read: had no friends) is that really history worth preserving, considering his beliefs? Surely we wouldn't want universities naming buildings after Trump or Pence (or at least more of them). Aren't there other narratives from history that we should be telling, like Hopper's?
Hopper is an uncontested badass. She pioneered so many computer science techniques and inventions that there's a coding school in New York named after her. And she's a United States Navy Rear Admiral and was given a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom by Obama. Why are we just starting to honor people like this instead of white supremacists? All I'll say is it's about damn time.