Author: Eva Glasrud

The Real Problem with Renaming Buildings on Campus: Logistics

This year, students at several universities have erupted in protests — not about war. Not about human rights violations. But about building names. At Yale, students demanded that residential college John C. Calhoun, named for a 19th-century U.S. vice president, senator and slaveholder, be renamed. The university recently announced that it had created a committee to consider the name-change. Earlier this year, outcry ensued when Yale president Peter Salovey announced that one of the school’s two new residences would be named for Benjamin Franklin, a founding father, prodigious inventor and slaveholder-turned-abolitionist. (For reference, the other new residential college was named for Anna Pauline Murray, an African American civil and women’s rights activist.) Additionally, this year Yale, Harvard and Princeton decided to drop the term “master,” as in housemaster — even though this term is based on a centuries-old European tradition that has no roots in slavery. Meanwhile, at Stanford, students are demanding the renaming of streets, buildings and malls named after the 18th-century missionary Junipero Serra. By today’s standards, he was a racist who might have been …