Grace Hopper students reflected on the tension between forging new traditions as members of Grace Hopper College while maintaining Calhoun College’s history at a Monday night town hall meeting.
Despite initial uncertainty over whether the college would include Grace Hopper’s GRD ’34 first name, Head of Hopper Julia Adams and Dean April Ruiz ’05 announced that it would officially be known as Grace Hopper College. Many students supported the inclusion of “Grace” in the new name as a formal reminder of the college’s female namesake.
While the college’s abbreviation remains unclear, students began brainstorming ideas for chants, symbols and mascots. The Hopper College Council solicited volunteers for a task force to establish new traditions in an effort to create a college identity before the class of 2021 arrives next fall.
“After all of the talk of the power names have, it would be silly not to acknowledge the positive power in the fact that the college is named after a woman and to try to keep that in mind,” town hall attendee Calvin Harrison ’17 said.
Although alumni reactions to the name change have been mixed, students welcomed alumni input in their decision-making process, recognizing the need to commemorate former students’ experiences in Calhoun College. Some students asked that administrators reach out to graduates, explaining that a broader survey would strengthen the college community and offer more diverse perspectives. One student suggested creating a scrapbook exhibit in the college honoring alumni traditions.
Town hall attendees also brainstormed potential nicknames, such as grasshoppers, kangaroos, hoplites, hoppies, admirals and moths. Hopper’s connection to the moth stems from a famous anecdote in which she had to clear a moth out from a computer in order to get it working, coining the term “de-bugging” in the process. Although some students expressed reservations about “hoplite” — some said that the name does not make sense to people who have not heard of hoplites, a term for Ancient Greek warriors — others argued that “hoplite” would effectively honor Grace Hopper’s unique role as a civilian and soldier.
“Hopper was in the navy, was extremely proud of the fact she was in the navy, and, in addition to being in the military, she was involved in coding and the computer engineering field,” Stephen Williams-Ortega ’20 said. “The hoplites, of course, were not professional warriors but rather citizen-soldiers [who] had jobs independent of warfare.”
While some students originally thought it was important to replace “’Houn” with “Hopp” to maintain the rhythm of popular college cheers, other attendees said they viewed this as an opportunity to distance themselves from Calhoun’s traditions and create new chants. Some suggested referencing student activism in intramural chants as evidence of students’ determination and efficacy.
Attendees largely agreed that the chant should not rely on references — such as an allusion to Migos’ hit song “Bad and Boujee” — that have the potential to become dated. One student stressed the importance of not completely erasing all references to Calhoun College traditions in the chant, while others added that control over the new chant offered Grace Hopper students a unique opportunity to explicitly recognize their history.
Anna Sophia Young ’17, head of Hopper’s College Council, proposed the idea of referring to students as “Hoppers” rather than “’Hounies” in future emails sent to the college community. Yet a handful of attendees said they thought establishing a collective noun for the community was not a priority, and that the identity should form organically.
Earlier this year, the phoenix, a symbol of rebirth, was incorporated into college apparel as an homage to the naming controversy, and some students suggested maintaining it as an emblem of Grace Hopper College.
Hopper was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2016.