Yale University must change its name

Yale University must change its name, by Rod Dreher.

Elihu Yale was certainly that: a slave trader, and a cruel man. Yale University bears his name because he was an early benefactor of the school.

Yale changed the name of Calhoun College in 2017, because its namesake, 19th century Yale alumnus John C. Calhoun, was pro-slavery. So why is Yale not jettisoning its name? Why the hypocrisy?

The answer, of course, is that “Yale” is a global brand of almost matchless prestige. In terms of branding — which is not the same as quality — Harvard, Oxford, and Cambridge are among its only competitors. To surrender “Yale” would be a severe blow to the value of a Yale diploma, precisely because of the sense of elite identity Yale has accrued over the centuries.

So, how serious do the leftist Yalies — alumni, faculty, administrators, and students — take their moral commitment? They are very happy to strip other people of their problematic historical identities, in the name of moral purity. How do they justify not applying the same standards to themselves?

Surely it cannot be the case that they want other people to pay a price for historical identity, but don’t want to pay it themselves. Yale was founded as the “Collegiate School,” before changing its name to Yale in honor of a major donor. Why not switch back to Collegiate School? The answer is that to do that would be like Marilyn Monroe at the height of her fame choosing to revert to her birth name, Norma Jeane Baker. Not quite the same thing, is it?

Hoist on their own petard.