De Blasio says Yale should rename Calhoun College
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said unequivocally Monday that he believes Yale University should change the name of Calhoun College in the interest of racial sensitivity.
In a conversation with reporters, de Blasio mentioned that his son, Dante, is currently a student at Yale, and said he “absolutely” supports Dante’s involvement in protests calling for the removal of Calhoun’s name from a residential college, Observer News reports.
“He has certainly been involved in the discussion on the campus,” the mayor noted. “He’s active in the black student union, and he’s been to some of the protests; I know that for sure.”
Over the course of a political career spanning four decades, Calhoun served stints as Vice President, Secretary of State, and Secretary of War between lengthy terms representing South Carolina in both Houses of Congress.
A leading fixture in American politics throughout the first half of the 19th century, alongside figures such as Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, Calhoun is perhaps best known as one of the foremost apologists for slavery, which he insisted was an unalloyed good for all involved and defended with a creative legal philosophy rooted in the primacy of the states over the federal government.
“I think [Dante] is very concerned and he certainly notes the fact that the college he’s in, Calhoun College, is named for someone it shouldn’t be named for,” de Blasio told reporters Monday. “You can imagine that as a young man of African descent, it doesn’t feel particularly appropriate to live in a place named after the chief segregationist leader of the south in that period of time.”
The debate over renaming Calhoun College is not the only racially-tinged issue that Yale is dealing with, and in fact has been largely overshadowed of late by a kerfuffle instigated by Halloween costumes.
In that case, some students objected to an email sent by Silliman College Associate Master Erika Christakis, in which she disavowed imposing restrictions on potentially offensive Halloween costumes and informed students that part of the college experience would inevitably involve being exposed to ideas that might be unsavory.
Amidst demonstrations on campus calling for the resignation of Christakis and her husband, Silliman College Master Nicholas Christakis, some protesters took exception with a previously scheduled free speech forum, waiting outside the venue where they allegedly spat on attendees as they exited.
De Blasio, however, did not address that issue in his remarks.
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