An open conversation
August 29, 2015
To the Yale Community,
After the murders in Charleston that prompted the South Carolina legislature to remove the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol, we received inquiries from students, alumni, and the broader community asking about the university’s position on Calhoun College, named for one of slavery’s most ardent defenders, John C. Calhoun. Any response should engage the entire community in a thoughtful, campus-wide conversation about the university’s history, the reasons why we remember or honor individuals, and whether historical narratives should or should not be altered when they are disturbing.
We opened that conversation in our August 29, 2015, welcome addresses to first-year students in Yale College, and we invite you to participate. We hope you will begin by reading the text of our addresses, posted here, and then participate more fully by taking advantage of several opportunities to learn more and to share your views with us.
This is an opportunity for us not only to examine our views, but to do so in a way that leads to thoughtful discourse and appropriate actions. As an institution of higher learning, we also hope to educate not just the public—but ourselves. We look forward to embarking on this conversation with you.
President and Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology
Dean of Yale College; Edmund S. Morgan Professor of African American Studies, History, and American Studies