Students at Yale are demanding faculty response to racially charged controversies.
A video from Yale University is catching fire on the internet today for showing a heated debate between Yale Silliman College Master Nicholas Christakis and several students. Over Halloween weekend, his wife Erika Christakis, an Associate Master at Silliman College, emailed students critiquing people’s over-sensitivity to cultural appropriation. Read the original email here.
In response to this email, students rallied against the perceived lack of support on the faculty’s part in supporting minorities on campus. Watch the students’ video first:
Nicholas Christakis responds by vehemently supporting his wife’s right to freedom of speech, noting that “I stand behind free speech, especially when it’s offensive. Even though I don’t agree with the content of the speech, […] I defend the right of people to speak their minds. So who gets to decide what’s offensive?”
The video harkens back to fundamental sentiments first fought for in Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement, but its context is vastly different considering the series of events on the Yale campus over the past week. According to a Business Insiderarticle outlining the timeline of events, the tension began with alleged racism from members of the fraternity SAE, who were accused of turning away students on Halloween based on race and ethnicity.
Yale sophomore Neema Githere first sparked the dialogue with this Facebook post:
Image Via Facebook/NeemaGithere
Dean Jonathan Holloway, notably the first African American dean of Yale College, held an emotional three-hour open forum during which students expressed distress at the administration’s perceived failure to support minorities on campus. An article from Yale News notes that Holloway ended the event by “promising to more fully embrace his responsibilities as a prominent black administrator and professor of African American Studies.”