John Caldwell Calhoun (1782-1850), Yale Class of 1804, 7th Vice President of the United States 1825-1832.
Peter Salovey’s hand-picked committee of Social Justice Warriors has deliberated and, what do you know? They decided that John C. Calhoun should be singled out among all nine slave-owner and slavery defender namesakes of three quarters of the original twelve Yale residential colleges for elimination.
A University task force has recommended that Calhoun College be renamed, according to Yale officials with knowledge of the groupâ€™s report.
The recommendation from the task force, which was charged with applying the Universityâ€™s newly created principles on renaming to the Calhoun debate, positions the Yale Corporation to rename the college when it meets the weekend of Feb. 10 and 11.
University President Peter Salovey formed the Calhoun task force in December, after the Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming released its report. The task force consisted of two faculty members, history professor John Gaddis and English and African American Studies professor Jacqueline Goldsby GRD â€™98, and one alumnus, G. Leonard Baker â€™64. Both Gaddis and Goldsby signed a faculty petition last spring calling for the renaming of Calhoun, named after slavery proponent John C. Calhoun, class of 1804.
On Jan. 13, the task force submitted its recommendation â€” which came in the form of a report running less than 10 pages â€” to Salovey, who will present it to the Corporation at the February meeting.
Last month, Salovey told the News that he did not plan to release the recommendation until after that meeting. Salovey was not involved in the task forceâ€™s deliberations, although he did have some input on the final draft of the report.
â€œThe task force did their work independently, and their analysis and recommendations are their own,â€ Salovey said in January. â€œThey gave me the courtesy of letting me see a next-to-final draft of their report, and make some comments. But my comments to them were really only about sort of clarifying the way their findings were expressed.â€
If the Corporation accepts the task forceâ€™s recommendation, the University trustees would be voting to reverse their decision last April to keep Calhounâ€™s name. The April renaming decision incited months of student and faculty backlash, and helped unite Yale activists and New Haven community members in a growing â€œchange the nameâ€ movement.
Last August, primarily in response to faculty criticism of the decision to keep the name of Calhoun, Salovey charged the CEPR with outlining broad guidelines for all renaming disputes at the University, starting with Calhoun. The committee released its 24-page report on Dec. 2, calling on administrators to consider historical context as they determine whether the legacies of controversial namesakes like Calhoun justify renaming campus buildings.
Vice President for Communications Eileen Oâ€™Connor declined to comment on the nature of the task forceâ€™s recommendation, but said the Corporation will decide the Calhoun issue at its meeting later this month.
â€œWe have a process, weâ€™re following the process, and weâ€™ll take all the information into account when we make a decision in the best interests of the University,â€ Oâ€™Connor said.
Why stop there? Roger Kimball asked last August in the WSJ:
I have unhappy news for Mr. Salovey. In the great racism sweepstakes, John Calhoun was an amateur. Far more egregious was Elihu Yale, the philanthropist whose benefactions helped found the university. As an administrator in India, he was deeply involved in the slave trade. He always made sure that ships leaving his jurisdiction for Europe carried at least 10 slaves. I propose that the committee on renaming table the issue of Calhoun College and concentrate on the far more flagrant name â€œYale.â€
Elihu Yale had a little black page.