Yale’s Calhoun College is one of the university’s venerable residential colleges. It’s named after the prominent alumnus John C. Calhoun. Calhoun served as Vice President, Secretary of State, Secretary of War, and United States Senator. He was the also the leading Southern proponent of slavery until his death in 1850. Calhoun is most famous for his advocacy of slavery as a “positive good.” The man did a lot of damage.
Calhoun’s successors in the Democratic Party have evolved. Now they advocate racial discrimination as a positive good. Calhoun also contributed the doctrine of the concurrent majority, beloved of Harvard Law School “civil rights theorist” Lani Guinier. And prominent Democrats have adopted Calhoun’s doctrine of nullification in the sanctuary cities movement. His legacy survives, as Victor Davis Hanson has frequently argued (here, most recently). Calhoun would be proud.
Yale has undertaken a great renaming project. Although Calhoun College was to survive it, the irresistible force of political correctness has met the eminently movable object of Calhoun’s name.
Calhoun College was so named in 1931. Now the university cannot even explain what it was thinking at the time. Yale President Peter Salovey confesses: “Although it is not clear exactly how Calhoun’s proslavery and racist views figured in the 1931 naming decision, depictions in the college celebrating plantation life and the ‘Old South’ suggest that Calhoun was honored not simply as a statesman and political theorist but in full contemplation of his unique place in the history of slavery[.]”
Yale has determined that Calhoun’s name will give way to that of one Grace Murray Hopper. What once was Calhoun College is now (or will shortly be) Hopper College. Yale’s announcement has been posted along with relevant links and citations. Read about Hopper in the announcement.
Yale, however, leaves former alumni residents of Calhoun College with a difficult choice. They “may continue to associate themselves with the name Calhoun College or they may choose to claim Grace Hopper College as their own.”