Yale dumps ‘master’ title, preserves ‘triggering’ Calhoun name

Apr 29, 2016 by

By Evan Lips –

NEW HAVEN — Yale University will keep the name of a residential college named after a 19th century alumnus and statesman, best known for his vehement defense of slavery, but will eliminate the title of “master” for faculty who live among the students and supervise residential facilities, even though the school’s use of the “master” title has zero relationship to slavery.

Last fall, Yale was one of several campuses that erupted in protest over the names of its buildings. At Yale, activists held rallies aimed at convincing administrators to delete references to historical figures, including John C. Calhoun, a 1804 graduate of Yale College, who defended slavery and articulated the legal rationale for state nullification of federal law and secession from the union.

But in an email to students, faculty, and alumni sent Wednesday evening, Yale President Peter Salovey said that Calhoun College will keep its name, although the university will drop the title of “House Master,” a term some students regard as “triggering” and “micro-aggressive.” Yale will instead refer to faculty members who administer the residential colleges as “Heads of College.”

The move follows the decision in February by Harvard to drop the “Master” title in favor of “Faculty Dean.”

In his email, Salovey said that scrubbing the name Calhoun from the university would “risk masking the past.”

“Retaining the name forces us to learn anew and confront one of the most disturbing aspects of Yale’s and our nation’s past,” Salovey wrote. “I believe this is our obligation as an institution.”

Salovey noted that while he shares “many of the convictions” held by those who argue that the Calhoun name “constitutes present honor paid to an egregious defender of slavery,” he “disagrees with the conclusion.”

The Yale president wrote that the university will soon launch an “interactive history project” aimed at dissecting Calhoun’s legacy. Responding to complaints over paintings of Calhoun that grace the college, Salovey said the school will hold a “juried competition to select a work of art that will be displayed permanently on the grounds of Calhoun College.”

But the decision has upset liberal activist groups such as the Black Student Alliance at Yale, which in a response issued Wednesday night claimed that decision to keep the Calhoun name was “regressive” and slammed Salovey’s explanation and declared that “keeping the name Calhoun does not foster learning opportunities.”

“At this moment, Yale actively recommitted itself to honoring the legacy of one of America’s foremost proponents of slavery, instead of taking full advantage of the opportunity brought before them to celebrate the contributions that people of color bring to this university,” the group stated.

Source: Yale dumps ‘master’ title, preserves ‘triggering’ Calhoun name | NewBostonPost

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