Students, Community Groups Demand Yale Change the Name of Calhoun College

A group of Yale students and community activists demanding the university change the name of Calhoun College marched Friday afternoon from the New Haven Green to the Yale president’s office at Woodbridge Hall.

The protestors delivered a letter with their demands to Yale President Peter Salovey’s secretary and they taped fliers to the front door.

“The difference between the other colleges that are named after slaveholders and (John C.) Calhoun is that Calhoun is known as the country’s biggest proponent of slavery,” said organizer Kica Matos, “he championed it, he advanced it.”

Yale students waged a campaign last year to change the name, but that did not succeed.

In April, Salovey announced Yale would keep the name of Calhoun College, saying the decision was “to confront, teach and learn from the history of slavery in the United States.

But the protestors, who at one point had a portion of Elm Street blocked off, argue the residential college needs to be renamed because Calhoun represents racism.

“I want things to change you know substantively, I know changing the name is not enough,” said Yale junior Cassandra Darrow, who is a Calhoun College resident.

This debate was reignited over the summer when a Yale employee’s act of civil disobedience made national headlines.

Corey Menafee was criminally charged after smashing a stained glass window depicting slaves in the Calhoun College dining hall. His charges were dropped and Yale rehired him in a new role.

“Corey brought the town and the campus together on this issue of racism at Yale,” his attorney Patricia Kane said before the march, “and the name Calhoun is offensive just as the stained glass window depicting the slaves with cotton.”

Menafee made a brief appearance to address the group of demonstrators.

NBC Connecticut requested an interview with President Salovey.

Instead, the Office of Public Affairs issued a statement saying, "We appreciate and respect the views of University and New Haven community members on all issues."

In September, Yale created a committee of faculty, alumni and students to come up with principles to guide the university on renaming campus buildings. 

Protestors told NBC Connecticut that is a little too late and it should not take a committee to get rid of what they say is a racist name.

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