NEW HAVEN, Conn. ― Yale University said Monday it will reconsider the decision to keep the name of a residential college named for John C. Calhoun, a 19th-century alumnus and ardent supporter of slavery.
Yale President Peter Salovey announced in April that the university was preserving the name of Calhoun College, defying protesters who railed against it.
But he said in a message to campus on Monday that “many faculty, students, alumni, and staff have raised significant and moving concerns about that decision, and it is now clear to me that the community-wide conversation about these issues could have drawn more effectively on campus expertise.”
Controversy has surrounded the name of Calhoun College for decades, but it received new attention last year as protesters on campuses around the country called for universities to address the legacies of historical figures, such as Woodrow Wilson at Princeton University in New Jersey.
Calhoun, a member of the Yale class of 1804, was a U.S. vice president and senator from South Carolina. In announcing the decision to keep the Calhoun name, Salovey said the move would help Yale confront the history of slavery in the United States.
Calhoun’s name was in the headlines again following the arrest of a Black dining services worker, Corey Menafee, who in June used a broomstick to smash a stained-glass window depicting slaves. Criminal charges have since been dropped and Yale has rehired Menafee, who had described the images as offensive.
Salovey said he has appointed a new committee to develop guidelines for proposals to remove historical names from university buildings, including Calhoun’s. He said requests to remove the name will be reconsidered after the committee’s work is completed.