Hopper College!
February 11, 2017 6:41 PM   Subscribe

Yale University is renaming Calhoun College after Grace Murray Hopper, mathematician, computer scientist, rear admiral of the US Navy, renowned teacher, developer of COBOL and the first working code compiler, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“John C. Calhoun’s legacy as a white supremacist and a national leader who passionately supported slavery as a ‘positive good’ fundamentally conflicts with Yale’s mission and values,” –Peter Salovey, president of Yale. This overturns a previous decision made in April 2016, when the Yale Corporation decided to keep the name of a white supremacist on the college, with the reasoning that “removing Calhoun’s name obscures the legacy of slavery rather than addressing it.” The year following the decision saw further protests by students and others, and a new task force that recommended changing the name.

Grace Hopper received a PhD from Yale in 1934, taught at math at Vassar, and in 1944 joined the Navy, where she got to work on the Mark I computer at Harvard. She later went on to work on the UNIVAC and help develop COBOL. She died in 1992. Her name had been in the running for the name of Yale’s two newest residential colleges, announced last year as Anna Pauli Murray and relatively famous person Benjamin Franklin.

In a sort of updated Sorting Hat procedure, the class graduating this spring will be able to choose whether to be members of Hopper or Calhoun. Subsequent classes will graduate from Hopper.

More on Hopper

FiveThirtyEight documentary on Hopper called The Queen of Code. (Previously.)

Hopper explains nanoseconds on Letterman.

President Obama awarding Hopper the Presidential Medal of Freedom last November.
posted by miles per flower (61 comments total) 90 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yay! Grace Hopper was awesome! I wanted my daughter to dress as Grace for her 'Famous Americans' presentation in 4th grade. (She chose to be Harriet Tubman, and was just as wonderful).
posted by dfm500 at 6:45 PM on February 11, 2017 [13 favorites]


YESSSSSSS!!!!!! Wooohoooo! (Sorry...that's all I've got to say, but that sums it up.)
posted by tully_monster at 6:55 PM on February 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


It's almost too bad they have already chosen to honour Pauli Murray. Because even better than changing the name from that of a rich white male racist to a white female scientist would be changing it to a black female civil rights lawyer.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:55 PM on February 11, 2017 [9 favorites]


It's 2016 and they were dithering over renaming a college named after a rat bastard from the 19th century? But at least in 2017 the college now carries a really honorable and meaningful name that reflects on our history now. A very well deserved honor. Too bad she's not here to see it and the presidential medal too. But there are a lot people who could be inspired by this. Hooray!
posted by njohnson23 at 6:59 PM on February 11, 2017 [7 favorites]


Because even better than changing the name from that of a rich white male racist to a white female scientist would be changing it to a black female civil rights lawyer.

Jesus H. Christ...can we not do this right now, in this thread?
posted by tully_monster at 6:59 PM on February 11, 2017 [64 favorites]


That is fantastic. Yay Yale!
posted by Fig at 7:01 PM on February 11, 2017


I'll confess, I'm not entirely sure what a college is at Yale, but I'm glad they've renamed this one. Seems like their previous decision would have been one that requires a pamphlet to be handed out every time the name of the college is mentioned to give the required context. With this decision, they've created a legacy that will last for the ages.

Yay Yale, indeed!
posted by hippybear at 7:05 PM on February 11, 2017


I am extremely in favor of things being taken away from white supremacists and given to Grace Hopper.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:07 PM on February 11, 2017 [43 favorites]


Yay Grace Hopper! That's an excellent choice.

I really wish that I could go back in time and yell at historical David Letterman to call her Real Admiral Hopper or Dr. Hopper, rather than Grace, though.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:11 PM on February 11, 2017 [3 favorites]


This news makes me feel great. I'm a female computer scientist and I think a lot more stuff should be named after Grace Hopper.
posted by potrzebie at 7:25 PM on February 11, 2017 [19 favorites]


Good. This may not be considered by some people to be anything more than a minor symbol, but by golly it's something and I applaud it.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:38 PM on February 11, 2017


I'm not entirely sure what a college is at Yale

Yale has 12 (soon to be 14) so called residential colleges, to which all incoming freshmen are randomly assigned (unlike Harvard houses or Princeton eating clubs which have a selection process); Hopper is one of them. As freshmen, students live on the Old Campus (a big quad) in dorms affiliated with their respective college. Sophomores, juniors and seniors live in the residential college itself. In this way one gets to know people from other walks of life--different majors, extracurricular activities, sports, etc.--and other years fairly well. As buildings, the residential colleges all have their foibles--each one is different--but there are many commonalities, e.g., each has a dining hall, a courtyard, etc. They are also sorting devices for activities like intramural sports and some administrative functions; each one has a dean, a head (formerly the "master"), associated fellows, etc.
posted by carmicha at 8:02 PM on February 11, 2017 [7 favorites]


At Cornell University there are endowed ("private") and statutory (state, ie. SUNY-affiliated/state-subsidized) colleges. Freshman enter Cornell in a specific college, but those expressing no preference are more or less assigned randomly to freshman dorms.

At least that's how it worked in the '80s.

(God, I'm old.)
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:29 PM on February 11, 2017


Grace Hopper, 'The Queen Of Code,' Would Have Hated That Title

If you read about Grace Hopper in her interviews she basically believed in the "minority-blind", "neutral = equal" version of politics, that is, the kind with the more conservative or pragmatic narrative that you shouldn't let gender define you, etc. (plausibly, this was more consistent with her privileged upbringing as well as her role in the navy). She had (gently) criticized the feminist activists of her era. She had explicitly said these things in interviews.

I think recognizing that aspect of her makes for a more nuanced and accurate lesson. And if you look at the negative space of it—the discourse around the Yale choice doesn't touch on any of this at all, possibly out of lack of awareness. But that's is the sort of detail and complexity that a computer scientist should know about too:

There's a celebration named after her; she's got a destroyer named after her. But she herself kind of had disdain for that. It's sort of the two at play — her public image as this sort of icon of computing, and then the woman herself who probably would have taken a pin to that balloon .
posted by polymodus at 8:36 PM on February 11, 2017 [11 favorites]


Grace Hopper is a far more important American than all but a scant handful of politicians. She received her Admiral rank based entirely on her genius intellect and amazing corpus of work, and she cemented the USA as the premier cybernetic power, an achievement every inch as important as ballistic missiles or the H-bomb. One we are benefiting from the whole globe around.

Everytime a new "plain language" computer language crops up, or a new compiled language arrives to make things faster, more extensible, or more secure - she was the first. She made it happen. And much more than that...
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:36 PM on February 11, 2017 [26 favorites]


Your college is one of the greatest influences on your Yale experience. You live and eat with the same people for four years, you have gear with the name on it, you play intramurals or do smaller theater pieces with your college, etc. It's one of the things that makes Yale (and Harvard, which has its own variant) more human, less atomized than your average state university despite their being larger than the small liberal arts schools.

A college being named after that miserable bastard Calhoun has been controversial at least since the 80s. I have a lot of respect for the kids who finally got the name change done. I'm sure it's a relief for Jonathan Holloway, the (retiring) first black Yale College dean, who was in a tremendously awkward position during the current dispute.

I can't help but wonder if some of the self-reflection wasn't prompted by the fact that Obama's girls are now at or approaching college age. Imagine asking Sasha (who chose Harvard) or Malia to live in a building named after a white supremacist who advocated for slavery as a "positive good."
posted by praemunire at 8:41 PM on February 11, 2017 [13 favorites]


I’m not a great one for the erasure of uncomfortable history when it really is historic, but when I learned that they only named the college after him in 1933 it becomes obvious that the association wasn’t historic so not worth preserving. 1933 was not a good year, even if the naming of a building after an odious man pales in comparison to other calamities.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 10:52 PM on February 11, 2017 [9 favorites]


I understand the worry about brushing distasteful history under the rug, but there are other ways to remember Calhoun than by having a college named after him.

In any case they couldn't have picked someone more deserving than Grace Hopper to replace him.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:09 PM on February 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


Way back in 2002, King Syndicate and Dell Computer teamed up to have a naming contest for Beetle Bailey's new tech officer. I suggested some variation on Admiral Grace Hopper, but they went with Chip Gizmo instead. I still think my suggestion was better, but I'm glad to see her get this honor.
posted by TedW at 11:11 PM on February 11, 2017 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I drive on the John C. Calhoun expressway every day to get to work. So if there are any Confederate apologists out there troubled by this, don't worry, there are still plenty of places named for him out there.
posted by TedW at 11:20 PM on February 11, 2017 [3 favorites]


Naming a place after a person, or putting up statutes or other memorials to them, is an honor. And a deliberate, ongoing choice. It's not some neutral operation of past events. For decades, Yale asked some of its African-American students to wear shirts blazoned with the name of someone who thought the enslavement of their ancestors was "a positive good" and fought for their ongoing subjugation.

At any rate, when the group harmed objects to the remembrance, and members of the group that did the harming start talking about "not wanting to erase history," no one should need to be told to be skeptical. No African-American student at a place like Yale is in any danger of forgetting slavery and its sordid consequences. They have to live with them every day.
posted by praemunire at 12:12 AM on February 12, 2017 [28 favorites]


There's a recent episode of '50 Things That Made the Modern Economy' on the compiler and Grace Hopper's work. Another reminder that she was awesome, and how incredibly important her work was.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 2:02 AM on February 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


There remains the little matter that Elihu Yale was a slave trader...
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:34 AM on February 12, 2017 [4 favorites]


Yale is also neccesarily part of the space-time continuum, in which the Demiurge has imprisoned pure spirit in a labyrinth of error and illusion. So I agree, this news is troubling and problematic.
posted by thelonius at 2:58 AM on February 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


Excellent. For a next step, we can rename the US Army posts named after Confederates for African-American Medal of Honor winners.
posted by Zonker at 5:38 AM on February 12, 2017 [5 favorites]


Jesus H. Christ...can we not do this right now, in this thread?

I'm not sure what "this" is; I don't see the problem with it in this thread. It's nothing against Grace Hopper to point out that naming the college after a person of color, especially an African-American, would be a finer bit of poetic justice.

At Yale, the perfect is unlikely to become the enemy of the acceptably good. We can celebrate the victory, and also consider what might taste sweeter. Why not?
posted by allthinky at 5:45 AM on February 12, 2017 [5 favorites]


My wife had the opportunity to meet Admiral Hopper at one of the DEC conferences in Boston many years ago. She considers it a career highlight and she's thrilled to see her hero honored this way.
posted by tommasz at 5:49 AM on February 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


If you read about Grace Hopper in her interviews she basically believed in the "minority-blind", "neutral = equal" version of politics, that is, the kind with the more conservative or pragmatic narrative that you shouldn't let gender define you, etc. (plausibly, this was more consistent with her privileged upbringing as well as her role in the navy)

This was extremely common for professional women of her era. It's not particularly hard to see why -- her career developed at a time when her gender couldn't do anything but hold her back, and the nascent women's movement only emerged after she got to where she was. (*) They might have wanted her to be a mentor, but they almost certainly couldn't offer her any real resources in return.

Generally, though, she died twenty-some years ago in her nineties *and* she wasn't a feminist philosopher -- of course she held slightly antiquated views.

(*) This is a bit of an over-generalization: the early 20th century had subfields (held in lower regard, natch) that were female-dominated, radioactivity (a la the Curies) being the most well-known. But the widespread women's movement -- which tried to move away from ghettos to more equal representation -- was a thing that developed after Hopper's career had developed.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 6:00 AM on February 12, 2017 [9 favorites]


Mod note: Folks, a couple comments were deleted earlier in hopes of this not derailing into an argument about who should have been chosen instead of Hopper, why can't we just be happy about one thing, etc. Maybe we can let that be, and just keep this more about the actual pretty good thing that happened and Grace Hopper herself rather than fighting.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:01 AM on February 12, 2017 [13 favorites]


--- is also neccesarily part of the space-time continuum, in which the Demiurge has imprisoned pure spirit in a labyrinth of error and illusion. So I agree, this news is troubling and problematic.

Stolen.

Also:
MeFi: This knowledge is troubling and problematic.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 6:04 AM on February 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


Just to be clear, Yale did in fact recently name a residential college after a black female civil rights lawyer. Last year, they announced that decision at the same time as they announced the we're-not-renaming-Calhoun, and there was a looooooooooooot of controversy.

In general, though, I think people underestimate the conservatism at play -- like, this might be a legend passed down through the student ages, but I went to Yale, and every spring, they planted the courtyard of my residential college with tulips. It was really pretty! But also super-annoying because we had a shitload of squirrels, and tulips are like candy to them, so like, half the tulips would get dug up, and you'd get half-eaten tulip innards sprayed all over the walkways on the reg for, like, six weeks. Plus, even the ones that didn't get dug up by squirrels had to be replanted just about every year, because there wasn't good sun/a lot of drainage, and they tended not to come back the following spring.

So one year, the grounds crew decides that instead of replanting tulips every fall, they're going to do daffodils. They're pretty! Squirrels do not regard them as tasty snacks! They come back reliably underneath light shade in New Haven's USDA zone!

All is well until reunion weekend the following spring, which is when alums from prior years come back. It's traditionally one of the biggest fundraising weekends for Yale, and it squeezes the alums who show up HARD, particularly the old ones from back when going to the right boarding school meant guaranteed admission. And apparently, during that big fundraising weekend, the daughter of an alum walked into our courtyard looking very pretty in the late-spring sunshine, and was HORRIFIED

H O R R I F I E D

that it was planted with daffodils, and not tulips, like daddy intended when he made the endowment, and if this wasn't rectified for next year, there would be trouble. Like, possibly lawsuit trouble. At the very least, pulling all further gifts to Yale trouble.

So yeah, according to legend, the tulips had an endowment. I think our spring dance had an endowment specifically for the liquor bill, which ran into the five figures every year. I'm pretty sure the pottery room in one of the other residential colleges had an endowment. The emergency fund that helped students with unanticipated travel to attend family emergencies, funerals, etc. had an endowment. This is also a school that didn't admit women as undergrads until 1968. The most elite undergrad organization on campus didn't allow women to become members until 1991, and when they tried, fucking William F. Buckley actually brought a lawsuit to try and keep women out.

Please don't mistake this for an apologia for Yale taking so fucking long to rename Calhoun. It's inexcusable, and part of why this announcement delights me so much. In fact, I have a lot of problems with my alma mater, like this and this and JESUS FUCKING CHRIST THIS. But I think people underestimate not only how much change there's been on stuff like this, but how much resistance it's had to face down. Current Yale may not be as liberal as we want it to be, but its past is un-fucking-believable, like, naming a fucking residential college after Calhoun in 1933 racist, and then doubling down on it and doing all kinds of BUT OUR MEMORIES!!!! shit in 2017. And unfortunately, the present has to play ball with the past because of not only the need to comply with legal restrictions, but also to safeguard things like Yale funding 100% of financial need with grants, not loans.

(You'll notice, for example, the little bit about how alums will be allowed to choose whether they want "Hopper" or "Calhoun" on their name badges, and I cannot fucking imagine the amount of negotiation that went into that. . . )
posted by joyceanmachine at 6:57 AM on February 12, 2017 [37 favorites]


Quick note: Harvard housing assignments for upperclassmen have been randomized since 1996.

Excellent choice on Yale's part!
posted by kwaller at 8:05 AM on February 12, 2017


tulips:
they don't come back reliably even in sun in this area (New England/Mid-Atlantic). they've been over bred to the point of only liking being in the Netherlands.

I work in a garden where we replant our tulip displays every year - of course we're just smart enough to put mesh over the approximately 9,000 tulips and the squirrels have a much harder time getting to the bulbs. If you're doing a large display, having a percentage of the tulips not making it the following year means you have to replant every year. Since we do different tulips every year, we compost last year's tulips. If you were doing the same tulips every year, you could just add in new ones. There are tulip varieties that come back better than others but they tend to not be the big red lollipops that are the canonical tulip in peoples' minds.
posted by sciencegeek at 8:34 AM on February 12, 2017 [4 favorites]


Came for the Grace Hopper story, learned a lot about tulips. I love you Metafilter.
posted by emjaybee at 8:39 AM on February 12, 2017 [13 favorites]


Here's a pix of the USS Hopper (DDG-70) plus the USNS Amelia Earhart (T-AKE-6)

For a next step, we can rename the US Army posts named after Confederates for African-American Medal of Honor winners.

Maybe we can restrict ones renamed for Buffalo Soldiers to areas outside the Southwest?
posted by ridgerunner at 8:48 AM on February 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


Would someone please spell out the relevance of gnosis which thelonius and steady-state strawberry mention to this news? Is there some link between gnosticism and racism being alluded to? Or what?
posted by bertran at 8:50 AM on February 12, 2017


Oh, or is the point that *everything* is troubling and problematic in this forum, where we regularly and always attempt to cut through the imprisoning bonds of illusion...
posted by bertran at 8:56 AM on February 12, 2017


This is a really big deal - last spring when they announced the new residential college names and simultaneously announced that Calhoun wasn't changing and gave the dumbest "because we said so" reason why, there was a lot of pushback. It seemed the administration were so worried about the reaction of the older alumni, that they forgot to take into account the opinions of the younger alumni (they clearly didn't care about the student body). Yale has been pretty adamant about not changing anything based on student or even alumni opinions over the years, unless a really big check is attached - from that perspective (particularly if no endowment came with it), that this happened is mindblowing.

The weirdest thing for me is, their biggest argument to retain it was about not wanting to erase history - as if keeping it that way would be simply a shameful reminder, rather than an ongoing affront. But the thing is, Calhoun's name is literally carved in stone in the college. It's possible they will cover this over, and I suppose there's a long shot it will be recarved, but its history isn't going away because the name changed.

I don't fault the alumni who may want to still put Calhoun on their reunion badges. Yale is a big school, and your residential college contributes a lot toward your student identity - the Hogwarts Houses aren't far from the mark as a comparison in some ways - they intentionally structure the school that way, and while it's possible to change your residential college during the course of your time there, very very few people do (a dozen a year? I can only think of two or three during my time there). So if people who come back want to hang with other "Hounies," then whatever. What's important is that the school is realizing that we shouldn't honor people just because we already honored them, and if history requires we take a new look at all 11 other college names in the future, then that's also the right thing to do. Next year's incoming freshman won't care that the name of their college used to be something else - but a lot of them would care, as they do every year, to get put into one where the more you learn about the guy, the more disgusted you are that you go to a school that's still apologizing for him.

This is a purely symbolic decision, and I'm glad they finally did it. That they chose the kickass Grace Hopper as a replacement is just the icing on the cake for me.
posted by Mchelly at 8:58 AM on February 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


So yeah, according to legend, the tulips had an endowment.
Hah! When I briefly worked in a university development office, one of my favorite gifts was an endowment for flowers and plants set up by the children of the university's longtime chief landscaper. Every year we sent them a report on how the money was being used, which was more fun to research than the typical donor-relations stuff. I don't remember them being pain-in-the-ass donors, and we definitely did have some pain-in-the-ass donors.

"Tradition" is just a really big problem for elite universities. On the one hand, they want donations, and a lot of the best donations come from the bequests of old guys. On the other hand, the old guys attended the institutions when they were all-male, functionally all-white, and had admissions policies that had all sorts of built-in class biases and were explicitly biased against Jews, and all that stuff is reflected in the "traditions". There's a real tension between the power that alumni have and the needs of the much-more-diverse current student body, and sadly, I think institutions sometimes pay too much attention to the alumni.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:59 AM on February 12, 2017 [5 favorites]


I'm not entirely sure what a college is at Yale

Yale's residential colleges are pretty comparable to the houses of Hogwarts. After you're randomly assigned to a college, you live and eat with your fellow house members and do most of your socializing with them.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:06 AM on February 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


After you're randomly assigned to a college, you live and eat with your fellow house members and do most of your socializing with them.

It's probably worth noting (given how a lot of this issue revolves around the perpetuation of privilege) that children of alumni are allowed to request they be placed in the same college as their parent. (This trivia brought to you by the fact my brother did so because it meant he knew he wouldn't be displaced by the college-remodeling schedule.)
posted by hoyland at 9:16 AM on February 12, 2017 [5 favorites]


Yale's residential colleges are pretty comparable to the houses of Hogwarts.

Yes. Hogwarts houses are my usual analogy for explaining my Yale experience, especially to kids; to this day, many of my closest friends are folks from my residential college. When kids express disbelief I show them photos like these.
posted by carmicha at 9:17 AM on February 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


Hogwarts houses are based on Oxbridge colleges - as are Yale's.

same goes for the dining halls.
posted by jb at 9:28 AM on February 12, 2017


Hogwarts houses are based on Oxbridge colleges - as are Yale's.

Hogwarts houses are, I would think, based far more on the houses at the public schools, with their particular creepy disciplinary systems and their separate dorms but mixed classes. They are their literal analogue.

Oxbridge colleges are also different in that the oldest of them were, historically, largely independent institutions that grew into an affiliation as the university developed. You have to apply to and be accepted at an Oxbridge college as well as the university itself. Most of your instruction will occur in tutorials with college fellows. There are college seminars, but most of your classwork at Yale is the responsibility of the university, not the college. Also there is (roughly speaking) actual parity of resources amongst the residential colleges, unlike the supremely shitty disparities between the older colleges and some of the redbricks at Oxbridge.
posted by praemunire at 10:19 AM on February 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


Twenty years from now there will be in Senate hearings a Senator who questions the dude in front of him why he decided to stay with Calhoun as his residential college instead of switching.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 11:23 AM on February 12, 2017


Somewhere the Christakises are penning a heterodox op-ed asking rhetorically whether Yale corporate's free speech is being chilled by fascist illiberal undergrads.
posted by AceRock at 11:50 AM on February 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


The whole naming of colleges at Yale is a relatively recent phenomenon (193os) and frankly kind of affected, like the faux Gothic architecture and the windows deliberately broken to make them look olde timey.

For those curious to know more about Calhoun other than the headlines, a readable start is John C. Calhoun: American Portrait (winner of the 1951 Pulitzer).
posted by IndigoJones at 1:08 PM on February 12, 2017


The whole naming of colleges at Yale is a relatively recent phenomenon (193os) and frankly kind of affected

? There was no college system prior to the 1930s. It was deliberately introduced (along with the names) to foster greater community and integration amongst the undergrads, who were otherwise rather haphazardly housed after their freshman year. Not sure what's affected about that.

The only argument in favor of the revivalist Gothic is that it's pretty. But, realistically, half of what's "Gothic" at Oxford itself actually dates from the Victorian era, so...it's a widespread affectation amongst certain kinds of institutions.
posted by praemunire at 2:51 PM on February 12, 2017 [4 favorites]


is the point that *everything* is troubling and problematic in this forum, where we regularly and always attempt to cut through the imprisoning bonds of illusion...

At least the way I'm planning on using it, it's the same as "we live in a fallen world," only more ridiculous.

This is an advance. It's perhaps possible to find greater advances, but this is an advance.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 7:21 PM on February 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


Looks like this has prompted Geraldo Rivera to resign his position as an Associate Fellow at the college, citing an "intolerant insistence on political correctness". Good fucking riddance.
posted by kafziel at 7:23 PM on February 12, 2017 [6 favorites]


Why not poppies instead of tulips? They practically endow themselves!
posted by um at 7:49 PM on February 12, 2017


Geraldo, you're disgusting.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:24 PM on February 12, 2017


(You'll notice, for example, the little bit about how alums will be allowed to choose whether they want "Hopper" or "Calhoun" on their name badges, and I cannot fucking imagine the amount of negotiation that went into that. . . )

Certainly, to my mind, it's a good way to separate the sheep from the goats.
posted by tully_monster at 1:02 AM on February 13, 2017


If they planted poppies, they'd have to do away with the ugly mulch they have there and weed the beds.

Bulbs really are a great thing to plant: limited time to plant and limited maintenance.

Daffodils and other naturalizing bulbs are always going to make more sense than tulips, but if you gotta have red and white, tulips are the way to go. (That said, there are species tulips that are red and will naturalize)
posted by sciencegeek at 5:03 AM on February 13, 2017


Wait, why was Geraldo Rivera affiliated with Calhoun College? Is that a joke? Because if not, that seems strange.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:07 AM on February 13, 2017


Geraldo was made an Associate Fellow "in 2003 or 2004" and may have not actually still been one before he resigned.
posted by Etrigan at 5:31 AM on February 13, 2017


Not sure what's affected about that.

It's affected because it is aping Oxford and Cambridge, where individual colleges were founded over centuries by different patrons with different endowments. Yale just threw up some buildings then rooted around for suitable alumni names to slap on them. Are the buildings pretty? If you like. So are the buildings at, say, William and Mary, and more in keeping with their time and place.

Among those names, as noted, which grace the colleges, Timothy Dwight, Benjamin Silliman, Jonathan Edwards (northerners all), were also slave owners, and I'm betting thought whites inherently superior to lesser races. Elihu Yale himself made his fortune in India trading slaves, and, I gather, treated them rather badly. Cf Brown University.

We will follow any further developments with interest.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:32 AM on February 13, 2017


It's affected because it is aping Oxford and Cambridge, where individual colleges were founded over centuries by different patrons with different endowments. Yale just threw up some buildings then rooted around for suitable alumni names to slap on them.
Hmmm. As a former historian, I pretty much agree with you. It's part of a late-19th and early-20th century trend in which elite Americans stressed their (supposed) connections with the glorious traditions of England, as a way of reinforcing their class position against internal and external challenges. As a current student-services person, though, I think that the college system serves some really important goals. It eases students' social transition, makes a big campus more manageable, and, because students are randomly selected for colleges, encourages them to get to know people who are different from themselves. It takes some of the wind out of the sails of more-exclusive organizations that serve similar purposes, like fraternities and sororities. The current trend in non-elite higher ed is to encourage students to live in similar communities that are organized by interests, and I actually like the randomly-selected college system better. The Gothic buildings and names-of-famous-alumni are interesting window dressing, but I think residential colleges serve a real function.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:00 AM on February 13, 2017 [5 favorites]


Calhoun is literally one of the worst American politicians of the ante-bellum United States. The only reason he acquired fame and so many honors (the US Senate named him history's most effective Senator in 1957!) is because of the south's reverence for the confederacy after the civil war. Calhoun was the intellectual godfather of the confederacy and his memory was treasured and kept alive by neo confederates.

He is certainly one of America's iconic personalities, but so are Benedict Arnold, Aaron Burr, and Jefferson Davis.

We frequently forget how much of the 20th century was spent making concessions to southern whites in the name of national unity, and I think we can regard the naming of Calhoun college was one of those instances. In that context, it was long overdue to take his name off the college.
posted by deanc at 8:51 AM on February 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


they don't come back reliably even in sun in this area (New England/Mid-Atlantic). they've been over bred to the point of only liking being in the Netherlands.

You know, I've been told that, but a quarter century ago my sister gave me a bag of bulbs that had been dug up and discarded from the White House due to this theory of necessary replacement. I planted them in a raised bed/bunker area at my mother's Virginia home, and they have come back every spring in glorious red display. No mesh, no tending, in fact utter neglect.
posted by tavella at 9:32 AM on February 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


I have visited DC, and the Arlington Cemetery, many times, but only once have I looked up a gravesite and sought it out.

I happen to have a picture. As was said of Wren, "Lector si monumentum requiris circumspice."
posted by uberchet at 11:41 AM on February 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


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