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Yale students brought into debate on changing name of Calhoun College

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NEW HAVEN--In through these gates walks the Yale University Calhoun College class of 2019.

But behind the gates also lies a big debate: whether or not they should rename Calhoun College.

"It brings up a lot of unfortunate feelings for a lot of people," said Jamie Haddad, a senior at the school. She is referring to the fact that former Vice President John C. Calhoun, who the college is named for, was a big proponent of slavery during the 1800s.

The question is: now that it's been more than 150 years since slavery was outlawed, should the school continue to embrace the name, or move away from it?

With students moving in, it's been a hot topic of discussion, and university President Peter Salovey wants input from students, especially freshmen.

Freshman Amanda Bosland moved in last week, and already it has been brought up to the freshman class.

"Our dean talked about the issue and got our feedback how we felt about it," Bosland said. "And then we went into smaller groups with our freshman counselor about the issue again."

But she said it was educational: "It was all very civil, very interesting to hear peoples' different perspectives on it. Everyone had an open mind, no one was too hostile," Bosland said.

But not everyone has been supportive--especially online.

"Online there's been a lot more negative comments than positive," Haddad said. She said she is part of the camp that doesn't think the name should be changed because it causes students to stop and learn and reflect about the meaning behind it.

Bosland agrees with Haddad. "I'm leaning a bit towards not changing the name. While it may be hard for some to associate the name with the college, I just think that embracing the name instead of hiding it is better. Our dean keeps talking about how we shouldn't 'hide the hard stuff.'"

As the new school year starts and the debate continues, President Salovey says he does not expect a decision to be made anytime soon on the renaming, but he wants the dialogue to continue.

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