More than 9,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the renaming of Calhoun College.
The petition is entitled ‘Rename Yale’s racist Calhoun College!’ and is open to the public. Launched in late November by three Yale Divinity School students — Heaven Berhane ‘18, Nathan Empsall ‘18 and Nicole Tinson ‘16 — the petition demands that University President Peter Salovey and the Yale Corporation change the name of Calhoun College, which honors white supremacist and slavery advocate John C. Calhoun, class of 1804. In a written statement provided to the News, Empsall said the goal of the petition is to give individuals outside of the Yale community the chance to voice their support for the potential renaming.
“Thousands of students and alumni from across every Yale school have already spoken out. Our Care2 petition shows that thousands more members of the public from around the world are watching this leading institution, hoping and waiting for even more leadership on this important issue,” he wrote.
The petition states that John C. Calhoun’s legacy is “one of racism and blood” and that today he is most remembered for one reason: his expansion and defense of slavery.
Empsall wrote that while Calhoun may have been perceived to be politically successful when the college was first named, his continued presence on campus is having a negative impact on Yale students.
“Every day we leave the name Calhoun on that college, we are declaring that it’s more important to us to honor a defender of slavery who died 165 years ago than it is to stop hurting our brothers and sisters,” he wrote.
In July, a separate petition advocating for the renaming Calhoun was circulated in the Yale community. It currently has 1,468 signatures.