After more than a year of student protests highlighting racial injustice on the campus, Yale University announced today via a statement by President Peter Salovey that the school will formally consider a proposal to rename Calhoun College. The Residential College was named in 1933 for John C. Calhoun, a Yale alumnus who went on to become the seventh vice president of the United States and one of the most prominent pro-slavery advocates of his time.
The original decision to name Yale’s newest Residential College was met with muted concern in 1933, and the unease has continued in the intervening decades. Beginning last year, that concern erupted into sustained mass protest of Calhoun College’s name, which students say either whitewashes over — or even amounts to a celebration of — Calhoun’s pro-slavery viewpoints. The decision over the years to decorate Calhoun College with art objects that reference slavery — including a stained glass image of shackled slaves at Calhoun’s feet, another of slaves picking cotton, and oil paintings that included images of Calhoun with his slaves — only exacerbated the controversy; none of these art pieces currently remain at Calhoun, but some are still on display elsewhere on campus.
This seems a timely observation since something else also happened yesterday: the Asian American Coalition for Education (AACE) — which describes itself as “the proven leader in fighting for Asian-American children’s equal education rights” — announced that it has filed a third complaint against Ivy League universities alleging that the schools’ use of holistic review during college admissions discriminates against Asian American applicants.
Describing the complaint lodged with the Office of Civil Rights at the US Department of Education at the beginning of August, AACE alleged that Cornell University and Columbia University had discriminated against applicant Hubert Zhao when they did not offer him an acceptance to their schools this past spring. The complaint speculates that Zhao was either the victim of racial discrimination, or of political retaliation; Hubert also happens to be the son of AACE president, YuKong Zhao.
Are you all about the #StarringJohnCho posters, the Photoshop phenomenon that reimagines posters for recent Hollywood blockbusters with actor John Cho in their leading-man roles? Then you should be equally as excited about supporting race-conscious affirmative action in college admissions, too.