Last week there were several news reports regarding students at Yale University calling for the resignation of two faculty members over their response to an email from the school’s Intercultural Affairs Council. The following is a breakdown of the events which shows the absurdity of these so called social justice warriors.
Prior to Halloween, the Intercultural Affairs Council sent out an email asking students to be thoughtful of the historical, cultural, religious or any other trait which the costume is based that could be considered disrespectful, alienating or ridiculing of any segment of the population based on race, nationality, religious belief or gender expression.
Associate Master of Silliman College (one of the residential colleges at Yale) Erika Christakis wrote a thoughtful response email where she simply provided a number of counter points written in the most innocuous manner. She questioned the idea that some seemingly benign costumes could be so objectionably “appropriative”, and whether we really want standards of censorship and prohibition to come from above as opposed to relying on self-censorship which develops through social norming. She also mentions that there was once room at the university for a little bit of inappropriate or provocative behavior. “American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition”
As expected from the social justice warrior types that now seem to infest college campuses across the country, instead of debating the issue in a civilized way, a faction of students banned together to call for the resignation of Mrs. Christakis. They have also called for the resignation of her husband, Master of Silliman College, Nicholas Christakis, for defending his wife’s statements.
By chance, Greg Lukianoff, president and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), was at Yale University to give a lecture at the same time these events were unfolding. While there, he witnessed dozens of students surround Nicholas Christakis and demand he apologize for his wife’s email. Though Mr. Christakis addressed the crowd for over an hour, Mr. Lukianoff was only able to capture four short videos totalling less than ten minutes which you can find here.
I’ll be looking at the third video here which I think best displays the mindset of these students.
Professor: -exception is because other people have rights too, not just you.
Student 1: Walk away, everyone. Walk away.
[many voices at once]
Student 2: How about we go back to you inappropriately using malicious … Master … to create an unsafe space here for all Sil-
Prof: I deny-
Stud 2: Be quiet! for all Silliman students. Do you understand that? As your position as Master it is your job to create a place of comfort and home for the students that live in Silliman.
Prof: I hear you.
Stud 2: You have not done that. By sending that email, that goes against your position as Master. Do you understand that? Then stop- st-
Prof: No, I don’t agree with that.
Stud 2: then, then why the fuck did you accept the position?!
Prof: Because I didn-
Stud 2: Who the fuck hired you?!
Prof: I have a different vision than you.
Stud 2: You should step down! If that is what you think about being a Sil Master then you should step down! It is not about creating an intellectual space, it is not! Do you understand that?! It is about creating a home here! You are not doing that!
Student 3: You’re supposed to be our advocate!
Stud 2: You’re going against that! This ju- You should be at their event last night and you would hear Anne Froco(?) say that she didn’t know how to create a safe place for the freshmen at Silliman. How do you explain that?! These freshmen come here and they think this is what Yale is?! Do you hear that? They’re going to leave, they are going totransfer because you are a poor steward of this community!
Student 4: Retweet!
Stud 2: You should not sleep at night!
Student 5: Yo, we out. We out.
Stud 2: You are disgusting!
To summarize, a group of nannies at the Intercultural Affairs Council sent out an email which treats students at one of the most prestigious universities in the country like kindergartners in need of constant supervision because they can’t even decide for themselves what an appropriate Halloween costume is. Mrs. Christakis responded with a deferential email with reasoned counter points. As a result, some students found Mrs. Christakis response and her husbands defense of it so traumatizing that they are demanding the Christakis resign. Does anyone else think this is a level of hypersensitivity bordering on mental illness?