Yale officials urge discussion on name of Calhoun College

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NEW HAVEN — Yale University’s leaders are urging a campus conversation about whether to change the name of a residential college named for an ardent 19th century supporter of slavery.

Debate about Calhoun College began this summer with a petition circulated after nine black worshippers were slain in a Charleston, South Carolina, church.

President Peter Salovey and Dean Jonathan Holloway said in a letter to alumni that they proposed the discussion in welcoming addresses Saturday to first-year students, and “we encourage you to take part as well.”

John C. Calhoun, an 1804 Yale graduate, was a prominent advocate of the slave plantation system who became a vice president and U.S. senator from South Carolina.

The petition said the Calhoun name, in place since the 1930s, represents “an indifference to centuries of pain and suffering among the black population.”