Friday, February 17, 2017
A drawing inspired by Grace Hopper College, previously known as Calhoun College. Back when I was an undergraduate, it was called "Calhoun College," and we liked it. Famous 'Hounies include...uh...Demetri Martin '95, who's apparently currently voicing a supreme "white bear," as they're called in Japan. And uh...I'll think of others, give me a minute.
As for Grace Hopper, I was blown away with how accomplished she was after reading up on her. She is quite an inspiration and definitely someone worth having pride and tradition in. Calhoun's current mascot is officially "the fire," if I recall, so I sincerely hope they ditch the vaguely-defined unofficial firey 'Houn dog mascot for a graceful bunny. It's such a flexible mascot, too, I can see plenty of adaptations to any circumstance from a cute, literal bunny to a more personified one, or even just an ironically intense battle bunny. "Beware the Bunny," and similar chants are a natural fit. So for my take on the mascot, I wanted to have a kinda graceful bunny-girl with that Hopper hairdo and her specs to boot, plus carrotty accents, and big, floppy ears and feet. The sailor outfit and quasi-military jacket are Naval nods to Hopper's career.
Who else was in Calhoun, by the way...(looks up the CC Wikipedia page) wow, Claire Danes (pretty sure she headed off early, though, or was that Jodie Foster? Wow, hey, she's Calhoun, too!), oh--Jonathan Coulton '93! I saw him give a Tea with the Record. Ah, neat he and John Hodgman '94 were both in CC, that makes sense. And what?! Kurt Schneider '10! I had no idea he was Calhoun! I used to watch him play in a band with Jake '09 on the street on Broadway Night and stuff, they did an incredible medley as their closer. Whenever I could, I'd just sit there and sketch as they'd loop through their set. I also got to see him play with the Sandy Gill Affair at the Space. I guess because of that band I always thought he was Morse or Stiles (shudder).
Anyway the racial stuff surrounding Calhoun never really came up in any notable way my entire four years, as far as I was/am aware. Granted, I was in JE (Jonathan Edwards), so my cognizance of CC stuff was limited (plus nobody really cares about Calhoun College, come on). Actually, one of my art heroes transferred from Calhoun into JE, come to think of it, so that kinda seals the deal, doesn't it? Answer: yes.
I'm not black, but I am a minority, so I guess I get to have an opinionish on the name. I myself was actually in favor of them keeping it Calhoun (I only heard of Hopper after they announced the change). I love the idea of that disgusting mark of our university and national history being so prominent as a college name because it disallows us to run or hide from our history, and meanwhile everything we represent and strive for and achieve flies flatly in the face of that racist's ideology. With every victory, we prove how pitifully wrong he and his ilk are and reshape the name into new meaning. Plus it's just an intangible name, which itself is not inherently tied to some vicious meaning, unlike say, a statue or something like that with immutable properties; you can reclaim the name as you will.
During my years, the master of Calhoun was even black, one of the coolest most popular professors on campus, and now he's the Dean of Yale itself! Justice doesn't get sweeter than that. Side story: one heavy winter as we were all preparing to leave for break, Master Holloway helped a Hounie make her shuttle bus by personally dropshipping her and her luggage to the pickup site via his car so she wouldn't miss her flight. He didn't need to drive or trudge around in the snow to help an outta-luck student, but he did. I was floored seeing such kindness. That's my greatest CC memory.
But I understand the desire to move past the Calhoun name, much like Pierson College (appropriately shorthanded as "PC") long retired its former college mascot with such precision and thorough eradication that you would be hard-pressed to find a student who could identify the character that Pierson people rallied behind in the early days of Yale College life. Look through the archives carefully enough (the JE library has a neat Yale history volume) and you'll learn that Piersonites in the mid 1930s gussied up for their annual plantation-themed formal and assuredly at some point in the evening, conversation would drift to boasting about one recent intramural meet or another and how well the Pierson Slaves did that week.