In the week since the University’s controversial announcement to retain the name of Calhoun College, students have led several efforts to protest the decisions. On Thursday, professors began to make their voices heard as well.
Following a Thursday afternoon Faculty of Arts and Sciences meeting at which University President Peter Salovey discussed the rationale of the Yale Corporation’s decision, faculty members have posted an open letter urging Salovey and the Corporation to reverse the decision to retain the name of Calhoun College. As of late Friday morning, the petition had received around 150 faculty signatures.
In the letter, professors push back against the line of argument Salovey has used to defend the decision — that retaining the name of John C. Calhoun, a vice president and ardent slavery advocate, allows the University to grapple with its past and educate students about the history of slavery.
“We fully understand and endorse your view that Yale University should engage the complexity of its past,” the open letter read. “Engaging this complexity is integral to our teaching mission. The name of a college, however, does not only represent a university’s engagement with a historic legacy; it also conveys its honoring of an individual — as with the inspired choice of Pauli Murray College.”
The letter further claimed that the residential college system’s contribution to the University’s success should not be underestimated and noted that a student’s college affiliation lasts for more than the four years on campus.
“A student’s college affiliation goes with them when they leave Yale. We are doing these students a disservice by forcing them to live unnecessarily under a brand so deeply associated with slavery,” the letter reads.