What’s in a name?

People have asked me how I feel about Yale’s decision not to rename Calhoun College. I’d like to record my thoughts here. I should first note that I was in Morse College, not Calhoun College, and it’s possible that Morse generally has less college pride than Calhoun.

If it were entirely up to me, I’d rename Calhoun College in a heartbeat. This decision is so obvious to me and to everyone I’ve spoken to that I’m unable to understand the other side. I just don’t see how keeping a name can be so important to someone that they’d fall on the other side of this debate. If Yale were to email me one day and say that due to a computer error Morse College has been renamed Horse College, frankly I wouldn’t give a damn. So how can anyone be so attached to “Calhoun College”?

The Yale Corporation probably had to weigh some factors that I’m just not aware of. But I have a hard time imagining what could possibly overrule the students’ loud and heartfelt pleas to change the name.

Speaking of which, I really don’t buy the argument that Calhoun College should keep its name as a reminder of our country’s tarnished history. That’s basically a way of saying that what John Calhoun did was bad, but not that bad. If a college were named after Charles Coughlin, i.e. an antisemite and Nazi sympathizer, you can be sure it would not have kept its name for very long.

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