Saturday’s decision to rename Calhoun College in honor of Grace Hopper GRD ’34 settled a decadeslong dispute, but also opened new questions for students and college leaders who are charged with remodeling the numerous cultural aspects of the residential community — many of which are currently tethered to the controversial Calhoun name.
It will be the responsibility of University administrators to redesign the college’s crest, which derives from the Calhoun family coat of arms, to “contextualize” its Calhoun commemorative stonework and to remodel its computer systems by the official July 1 switchover date, according to University officials. But students in Hopper College will lead the charge to reshape their college community under the new name. And as the residential college community grapples with its new identity, Hopper College resembles Yale’s two newest residential colleges, whose inaugural students will also be tasked with creating their respective colleges’ reputations from scratch once they begin living in the dorms next fall.
Students have already begun the effort by brainstorming new college cheers, traditional event names and potential mascots, among other college rituals, which will be introduced to incoming freshmen when they enter Hopper College this fall.
Several hours after University President Peter Salovey announced the name change on Saturday, Hopper freshman counselors met with freshmen to discuss the college’s traditions and the coming transition. And at a Monday evening Hopper College Council meeting, students expressed relief and enthusiasm for being able to foster a communitywide discussion on the change.
“This is really exciting,” said Anna Sophia Young ’17, president of the residential college’s council. “I think this is a real opportunity for exciting community engagement and for people to come together and rally around our new name. I can’t wait.”
Hopper College Head Julia Adams told the News that, as of Saturday, new traditions were already being planned.
Hopper FroCo Isaiah Genece ’17 said he was looking forward to helping his college transition into its new identity.
“There is a whole long process of reinventing the history now,” he said. “It’s incredibly exciting.”
A similar excitement filled the Hopper Fellow’s Lounge on Monday evening as the council discussed how Hopper College intramural sports, college events, mascots and even the name of the college council would differ from their Calhoun predecessors.
The college’s annual “Fireball” dance, scheduled for March 3, will likely be given a new name, with students suggesting Hopper-inspired names like “Sock Hop” and “Hippity Hoppity.”
The renaming has also inspired ideas for a moniker to replace “Hounies,” and suggestions have included “Grasshoppers,” “Bunnies” and “Hoplites” — a term for ancient Greek warriors that Adams said might spark greater enthusiasm for intramural sports.
Members of the college council said Monday that the college community at large should have the deciding authority on these fronts. They planned to schedule a town hall meeting to collect ideas and then distribute a survey to determine which proposals garner the most support.
“We’re really going to try to make it as collaborative a process as possible,” Young said. “We really want to open up the discussion about the culture and traditions of the college to the entire college.”
The task of redesigning official college apparel will likely not begin until the University unveils the new Hopper crest, and thus potentially new college colors, though the Yale administration has not announced whether the crest’s design will be released before the July 1 name change deadline.
Though many students said they look forward to beginning a new chapter in the college’s history, for students who saw Calhoun more as a Yale community figure rather than a figure of national history, the transition is somewhat melancholy.
Last weekend, Dean of Yale College and former Master of Calhoun College Jonathan Holloway told the News that, in some ways, it will be hard to see the Calhoun name go.
“I raised my family in a loving community that happened to be called Calhoun, and it was never ever for me John C. Calhoun College — I mean the man I detest,” he said. “But it was a name for a community, and I can’t ever separate that from my own personal experience there. So part of me absolutely is sad to see the name go, and part of me is thrilled to see it go, and that’s the way I’ve felt the entire time.”
And for Jessica Hernandez ’16, a recent alumna of Calhoun, the time she spent at the college shaped the way she thought about the title.
“Hounie has a special meaning to me,” Hernandez said. “Calhoun never, never meant anything to me, but Hounie meant something to me.”
Nevertheless, Hernandez said she supports the name change and joined current students in celebration in Hopper Courtyard on Saturday afternoon.
Calhoun College was one of the original eight residential colleges established at Yale in 1933.
David Yaffe-Bellany and Jingyi Cui contributed reporting.