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Yale Defies Student Calls For 'Calhoun' Name Change

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

In this next story, the news is something that will not change. Yale University says it is keeping the name of a residential community on campus.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

It's called Calhoun College. It's named after John C. Calhoun, the South Carolina politician who defended slavery in the 1800s.

INSKEEP: From member station WSHU, Katie Toth reports on why many students are upset and why the administration says the tainted name is actually good.

KATIE TOTH, BYLINE: Yale's administration first started discussions about the name of Calhoun College in August, after an online petition began circulating to change the name. Then this week, as many students were getting ready for final exams, the school announced the name would stay. I'm still furious. People come up to me and like ask, oh, how am I doing - like my really good friends. And we just start simultaneously laughing because like we know that neither of us is doing OK.

TOTH: That's Yale sophomore Kinsley McNulty, who's black. He says, after numerous discussions on campus leaving the name the same was an insult to students efforts. Elisia Ceballo-Countryman is a sophomore at Yale who's part of Calhoun College. She felt the same way.

ELISIA CEBALLO-COUNTRYMAN: It's like there's no way that I could convey to you the amount of labor and time and emotion and pain and frankly, like, GPA points that have been lost over this past year.

TOTH: In a conference call this week, Yale president Peter Salovey said keeping the name of Calhoun College would force Yale to confront its history instead of shying away from it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PETER SALOVEY: And no longer having this reminder of the stain of slavery on our nation's history and our own university's participation in it.

TOTH: Yesterday, Salovey held a closed-door meeting where students talked about the decision. Some said Yale didn't need the name of a college to teach the history of slavery. Others wore tape over their mouths to show that they were tired of talking. For NPR News, I'm Katie Toth. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.