Yale University Formally Considers Renaming Calhoun College

A doorway at Calhoun College, Yale University.
A doorway at Calhoun College, Yale University.

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.

Last November, a multiracial coalition of students issued a list of demands to Yale administrators to address racial injustice on campus; the renaming of Calhoun was included alongside calls to improve administrative support for ethnic studies, cultural community centers, and student mental health. A survey of students conducted in April of this year showed that 55% support renaming the College.

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Rae Na Lee, ’19, is Second Student Death at Yale in Past Week

Rae Na Lee, ’19 in a KBS 2TV show appearance in 2014. (Photo Credit: KBS 2TV)

In a message circulated late yesterday to members of the Yale University community, Yale University dean of students Jonathan Holloway broke the tragic news that Yale student Rae Na Lee, ’19, had died in her home in New Haven, Connecticut. Lee was the second Yale student to die in the last week. This past Monday, the Yale community learned that Hale Ross, ’18, had died of apparent suicide over the weekend.

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Anti-Affirmative Action Group Files Another Complaint — This Time Against Cornell and Columbia

Cornell University's beautiful campus.
Cornell University’s beautiful campus.

Yesterday, guest writer Felix Huang (@Brkn_Yllw_Lns) wrote an incredible essay for this blog suggesting that in talking to Chinese American opponents of affirmative action, we must reframe the conversation away from self-interest and towards collective morality.

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.

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#StarringAffirmativeAction: How #StarringJohnCho Debunks Recent Asian American Complaints Against Ivy League Universities

Artwork submitted to #StarringJohnCho. (Photo Credit: Twitter)
Artwork submitted to #StarringJohnCho. (Photo Credit: Twitter)

By Guest Contributor: Christopher M. Lapinig

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. 

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150+ AAPI Civil Rights Organizations Join National Open Letter in Support of Affirmative Action


Less than one week after an Asian American group (comprised of predominantly Chinese American organizations) announced that they had filed a complaint to the Department of Education against Yale University, Brown University and Dartmouth College alleging anti-Asian bias in the school’s admissions policies, the national AAPI civil rights community has responded with a clear message: these conservative Chinese American opponents of affirmative action do not speak for all us.

Today, over 150 of the nation’s AAPI civil rights organizations came together in an open letter of support for the continuation of race-conscious affirmative action. In recognition of the critical role that race-sensitive admissions has played — and continues to play — in creating access to higher education for underrepresented groups, our community’s civil rights institution has reaffirmed our unwavering defense for classroom diversity and education access for all.

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