The debate over the naming of two new colleges at Yale University began in earnest in fall 2015. With racially charged protests sweeping college campuses across the country, the as-yet-unnamed construction sites by Science Hill emerged as a litmus test for Yale’s commitment to diversity: Would the University seize the opportunity to honor a woman or person of color, students asked, or choose another dead white man as a college namesake?
In the end, Yale did both. The college closest to Science Hill was named after Anna Pauline Murray LAW ’65, a queer black activist who co-founded the National Organization for Women. But to the dismay of student protesters, the second college was named in honor of the founding father Benjamin Franklin — a writer and inventor who also owned slaves.