Yale University is known for being a place with smart people. After all, it’s one of the premier colleges in the country. And it’s clear that people over there are making smart decisions. When it was revealed that one of the schools’ residential colleges had a name with ties to a dark past, the university didn’t just ignore it or sweep it under the rug. Instead, the school chose to face the problem head-on, resulting in a big change at the university. Yale renamed the college after a female scientist, so they didn’t just get rid of the problem, they made a huge step forward for women everywhere.
On Saturday, Yale made the surprising announcement: it would be changing the name of one of its undergraduate residential colleges. The college will honor one of the most remarkable of Yale graduates, Mary Grace Hopper. Hopper, who graduated back in 1934, was a pioneer in every sense of the word. She was a computer engineer, mathematician, and U.S. Navy rear admiral. As if that isn’t impressive enough, she accomplished all this in a time when women simply weren’t welcome in the workforce (or in Ivy League universities, if we’re being honest). The Hopper College will stand as a testament to her proud legacy, and a Yale alumnus with a truly incredible legacy.
So what’s the reason behind this admirable but unexpected change? The original name is more than a little problematic: John Calhoun, the residential college’s namesake, was another Yale graduate. He was also a strident supporter of slavery. This hasn’t sat well with Yale students and faculty for some time, and over the year numerous protests have demanded the school undergo a name change.
And now it has, in a wonderful way: by honoring an incredible woman with a life and legacy that upholds the finest in Yale traditions. Now that’s what we call a smart move.