Penn Latest to Rename Dorm ‘Masters’ over Racial Concerns

PHILADELPHIA ― The University of Pennsylvania has become the latest Ivy League institution to drop the title “master” to refer to student dorm leaders following weeks of protests against racial insensitivity on college campuses across the country.

Penn decided to change the name from faculty “masters” to faculty “directors” to refer to the tenured, full-time professors living in the dorms. Supporters argue that the term master connotes a legacy of slavery.

In recent weeks, Harvard and Princeton have also parted ways with the outdated title. Princeton’s student dorm leaders will now be called “head of college,” and Harvard has not yet settled on a new title for its dorm leaders. Yale is also weighing a change.

Penn’s faculty directors voted unanimously for the title change before Thanksgiving. Dennis DeTurck, a Penn math professor, dean, and faculty director, told The Philadelphia Inquirer the move is a small but important step.

But some students didn’t see the move that way.

Junior Sam Byers told the Inquirer that there are real racial issues on the campus and this is “just about the least of any of them.”

Black students attending predominantly mainstream institutions have been increasingly vocal about the need for more inclusive campus environments. Among the demands they are calling for are changes to building names, increased faculty diversity and improved minority student recruitment and retention.