Yale University: Protesters at Yale Threaten Free Speech, Demand Apologies and Resignations from Faculty Members Over Halloween Email

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Yale University

On October 30, 2015, Erika Christakis, associate master of Yale University’s Silliman College, responded to an email from the school’s Intercultural Affairs Council that asked students to be thoughtful about the cultural implications of their Halloween costumes. In her response, Christakis questioned what she and some Silliman students perceived as an intrusion into the expressive rights of college students that compromised their autonomy. In response, Yale students accused Christakis and her husband, master of Silliman College, Nicholas Christakis, who defended her email, of failing to create a “safe space” for Silliman residents. Others demanded they resign or the university remove them from their positions. 

On November 5, 2015, FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff recorded video of students confronting Nicholas Christakis on the Yale campus.

On November 17,  the president of Yale University and dean of Yale College sent an email to Yale’s Silliman College community reaffirming their support for the Christakises in their roles at Silliman College.

On December 4, The Washington Post reported that Erika was resigning from her teaching role at Yale “to return to her work with young children and families.” Nicholas also announced a sabbatical during the spring 2016 semester.

On May 25, 2016, Nicholas and Erika announced that they resigned from their Silliman College duties to pursue academic work full time.

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  • How to Rescue Free Speech in American Academia

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  • Ivy League Schools Stomp On Freedom Of Speech

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  • Podcast: The First Amendment Speech Debate on College Campuses

    November 20, 2015

    By Staff at National Constitution Center Are there limits to what can be said at and displayed on college campuses? This podcast discusses recent controversies at Yale University and the University of Missouri involving the First Amendment, the 14thAmendment, free speech and hate speech. At Yale, the controversy started after an e-mail from its Intercultural Affairs Committee encouraged students to show restraint in their Halloween costume selections. Two professors objected, saying universities “have become places of censure and prohibition.” That debate is on-going. And at Missouri, the controversy stared over the school’s response to several racial incidents and led to […]

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  • College Protests Lack Right Solutions

    November 19, 2015

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  • Student Activism, Race & Free Speech

    November 18, 2015

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    November 18, 2015

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  • Getting the Story Wrong on Campus Racism

    November 17, 2015

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  • Yale’s Alumni Donations May Suffer Amid Free Speech Debate

    November 17, 2015

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  • Public Shaming on Campus: Out of Control

    November 17, 2015

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    November 15, 2015

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  • Missouri Controversy Highlights Academia’s Free Speech struggle

    November 15, 2015

    By Aamer Madhani and Roger Yu at USA Today As college administrators across the country move to crack down on hate speech on campus, First Amendment advocates say that universities are becoming increasingly squeamish about exposing students to ideas that they may find offensive or collide with their world view In a nationwide poll published by the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale University last month, 50% of students said they often felt intimidated to offer views that differ from their classmates’ or professors’. Sixty-three percent of students said that they thought political correctness was a problem on campus, while […]

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    November 15, 2015

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  • Could Jesus Crack Campus Speech Codes?

    November 15, 2015

    By Jan LaRue at American Thinker Absent a miracle, neither Moses nor Christ could crack the speech codes enforced by self-anointed censors operating at the majority of American colleges and universities today. In “The Coddling of the American Mind,” Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, writing for the September 2015 issue of the Atlantic, document the demise of First Amendment rights on college campuses and why it’s “disastrous for education and mental health”: “Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects […]

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  • Our opinion: Free speech 101: Don’t stifle it

    November 15, 2015

    By Staff at Tallahassee Democrat The mess at Mizzou is sending ripples of racial unrest through university campuses nationwide, with some significant long-term implications for American education and politics — as well as the news media. In a little more than 36 hours early last week, thousands of students protesting what they consider the University of Missouri administration’s insensitivity to some ugly racist provocations forced university President Tim Wolfe to resign. The university chancellor also announced plans to quit soon, and Wolfe was replaced on an interim basis by Michael Middleton, a black man who was the deputy chancellor, as […]

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  • Law Experts: College ‘Safe Spaces’ Unsafe for Free Speech

    November 14, 2015

    By Sandy Fitzgerald at NewsMax College “safe spaces,” where students can hide away from viewpoints that might cause them distress, go against the nation’s First Amendment and even what universities should stand for, according to Constitutional law experts. “They want complete control over their personal lives, over their sex lives, over the use of drugs, but they want mommy and daddy dean to please give them a safe place, to protect them from ideas that maybe are insensitive, maybe will make them think,” attorney Alan Dershowitz told Fox News. But instead, the last thing students who demand safe zones want […]

    » Read More

  • Inside the Bizarre Right-Wing Political Correctness Movement That Threatens Free Speech

    November 14, 2015

    By Zaid Jilani at AlterNet  Raucous protests at the University of Missouri, Ithaca College and Yale have highlighted the tension between students who desire a tolerant campus and the American value of free speech. Most of the discussion about these events in the media portrays a struggle between left-wing students and administrators trying to implement diversity and speech codes versus right-wing students and administrators trying to protect certain kinds of speech. But political correctness is far from just a left-wing phenomenon, and there are many instances of right-wingers trying to silence speech on campus. Here are some of the ways […]

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  • Yale Students Fight for Change, say Racism on Campus goes Deeper than just Ignorance

    November 14, 2015

    By Ed Stannard at New Haven Register NEW HAVEN >> The central issue that has caused such an uproar atYale University, say many students, is racism and working to erase it and other forms of discrimination from campus life. While there have been episodes in the last two weeks that have put the focus on free speech and whether it’s being suppressed, those are minor compared to the real problems of race relations at the Ivy League school, those students say. Complaints by columnists and national media outlets that students have tried to suppress free speech are a “toxic diversion,” in […]

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  • College Students Want to Make Everything Free Except Their Minds

    November 13, 2015

    By Robby Soave at Reason.com At least it’s not just about offensive Halloween costumes, anymore: Students across the country engaged in protests Thursday and Friday as part of the Million Student March for debt forgiveness, free college, and a $15 minimum wage. I have serious reservations about these goals—a higher minimum wage would cripple the opportunities of young people, debt forgiveness would punish taxpayers for the crimes of the privileged, and free college just isn’t very usefulfor poor people. What’s more, students can’t articulate a way to pay for them, as evidenced by this painful exchange between an organizer and […]

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  • Purdue President Reaffirms Free Speech in Wake of Mizzou, Yale Controversies

    November 13, 2015

    By Emily Larsen at Campus Reform In a statement released Wednesday, Purdue University President Mitch Daniels reaffirmed free speech and drew contrast between Purdue’s speech policies and practices of those at Yale University and the University of Missouri. “Events this week at the University of Missouri and Yale University should remind us all of the importance of the absolute fidelity to our shared values,” Daniels wrote in the statement. President Daniels, who became Purdue’s president in January 2013 after serving his second term as the Governor of Indiana, cited past victories of Purdue student movements protecting free speech. The We […]

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  • Yale Vs. Princeton: The Battle For Free Speech On Campus

    November 13, 2015

    By Karin Agness at Forbes Yale and Princeton will square off on the gridiron on Saturday. While the schools are tied in the Ivy League football standings, it is becoming clear that the Tigers are winning when it comes to free speech on campus. Yale is in the national spotlight this week as campus protests and confrontations there heat up highlighting a national trend of students stifling free speech and the free exchange of ideas on campus. At issue in New Haven is an email sent out by The Intercultural Affairs Committee on Halloween costume guidelines to discourage students from […]

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  • When Free Speech Becomes a Political Weapon

    November 13, 2015

    By Kate Manne and Jason Stanley at The Chronicle Review Students at the University of Missouri recently succeeded in pressuring the institution’s president and chancellor to step down. At other campuses across the country, we are witnessing a wave of similar protests. Frequently, however, the students protesting are being misrepresented and belittled in the news media as childish and coddled. More worryingly still, they are held to be attacking freedom of speech rather than exercising it to call for institutional reform — political action of the very kind this freedom aims at protecting. What explains this apparent paradox? In a word, […]

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  • Amid Free Speech Debate, Yale Protesters Struggle to Keep the Focus on Racism

    November 12, 2015

    By Caitlin Dickson at Yahoo! News A simple email about Halloween costumes at Yale has brought tension over campus racism to a head, sparking an ongoing debate about the First Amendment and political correctness. After a notice from the university’s Intercultural Affairs Council urged undergraduates to avoid racially or culturally insensitive costumes, lecturer Erika Christakis sent an email to students at Silliman College, the residence hall for which she became associate master this fall, explaining why they should wear whatever they want on Halloween, regardless of whom they might offend. “American universities were once a safe space not only for […]

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  • Yale Students Spit on ‘Free Speech’ Advocates, Literally

    November 12, 2015

    By Kyle Becker at Independent Journal Oh, Yale: That august university of intrepid thought, perched aloft the shining hills of academe, which guides our eye with luminescent vision, enlightening all who countenance its idyllic grandeur. Just kidding. Yale is increasingly turning into a shelter for spoiled rich kids who wither at the prospect of deliberating on an unwelcome thought. Campus Reform brings our attention to a “free speech” rally at Yale that incited a protest among students who instead prefer a “safe space” free from undesirable thought. The publication reports: Students at Yale University are reacting with outrage to the suggestion that freedom of expression […]

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  • Students: Fight Racism, Not Free Speech

    November 12, 2015

    By Robby Soave at The Daily Beast The ouster of University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe this week—perhaps the most pivotal victory for young activists in years—should finally lay to rest the false notion that offended students have no real power on campus. The only question now is whether they will use their power for good. Indeed, there are many inequities for them to tackle, even on the relative bastion of privilege that is the university campus: the cost of attaining a degree is spiraling out of reach for lower and middle-class students, too many resources are gobbled up by […]

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  • At Mizzou, Yale and beyond, Campus Protests Stir Fresh Questions About Free Speech

    November 12, 2015

    Transcript at PBS News Hour At the University of Missouri, protests and a president’s resignation have put a spotlight on heated debate taking place on campuses across the country over hateful speech and racial insensitivities. Greg Lukianoff of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and Jelani Cobb of The New Yorker join Gwen Ifill to discuss questions of free speech and its limitations. GWEN IFILL: Marches and demonstrations at Missouri and other universities define a season of unrest on many college campuses. And the response to those protests has stirred fresh questions about how much speech is too much. […]

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  • They’re Mad for a Reason: Campus Activists are Yelling Because oo Many of us Still Won’t Listen

    November 11, 2015

    By Elias Isquith at Salon Media I am not the first person to observe that the way mainstream America talks and thinks about its youth is disjointed, strange and rife with neurosis. But the conversation that kicked off last week in response to student protests at Yale University and the University of Missouri has placed the bizarre mix of envy and resentment with which so many regard college students in especially sharp relief. Thanks to that new clarity, two aspects of the “debate” over free speech and campus activism are now easier to recognize. First, that much of the conversation […]

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  • Yale University Race Row: Faculty Member Nicholas Christakis Tells Students to ‘Look Away’ from Offensive Halloween Costumes

    November 11, 2015

    By Aftab Ali at The Independent A race row has erupted at one of the world’s most prestigious universities after two separate incidents collided to form debate on campus. In the run up to Halloween, students at Yale University in Connecticut, US, were sent an email from the institution’s Intercultural Affairs Council requesting they be thoughtful on the cultural implications  of their choice of costume. However, according to the individual rights group Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (Fire), Erika Christakis – who is an associate master at the university’s Silliman College – responded to the student body withan email of […]

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  • The Yale Imbroglio

    November 11, 2015

    By Jane S. Shaw at National Review Elsewhere on the NRO site, Kevin Williamson explains what’s happening at Yale. He was there when students protested the panel on free speech, of which he was a member. But there’s more. The protests are bizarre. As Williamson writes: Turns out it’s a fairly typical college story — which is to say, a fairly stupid story — the short version of which is that Yale’s sensitivity babysitter sent out a pre-Halloween e-mail reminding all the smart Ivy League kids not to dress up like Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer; Professor Erika Christakis […]

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  • NC Professor Tells Students be Civil and Speak Freely – or Take a Hike

    November 11, 2015

    By Edmund DeMarche at Fox News Students of University of North Carolina-Wilmington Professor Mike Adams can check their outrage at Halloween costumes and “micro-aggressions” at the door, but if they want to have real debate on hot-button issues such as race, he’ll make time in his criminology class. The famously outspoken professor, who took his school to court and won after accusing officials of stalling his career because of his conservative beliefs, has watched as campus controversies have erupted at Yale and University of Missouri in recent days. At Yale, an administrator’s e-mail that asked students to exercise their First Amendment […]

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  • Campus Commotions Show We’re Raising Fragile Kids

    November 11, 2015

    By Jonah Goldberg at National Review It seems like every week there’s a new horror story of political correctness run amok at some college campus. A warning not to wear culturally insensitive Halloween costumes sparked an imbroglio at Yale, which went viral over the weekend. A lecturer asked in an e-mail, “Is there no room anymore for a child to be a little bit obnoxious . . . a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?” Students went ballistic. When an administrator (who is the lecturer’s spouse) defended free speech, some students wanted his head. One student wrote in a Yale Herald op-ed […]

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  • Breitbart News Daily: Populism Takes Over; Crisis in Colleges

    November 11, 2015

    By Staff at Breitbart  On the Thursday, November 12, Breitbart News Daily show on Sirius XM Patriot channel 125 from 6AM to 9AM EST, host and Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon will interview a number of guests, including Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder on the University of Missouri uproar that forced President Tim Wolfe to resign. Parents Television Council President Tim Winter will discuss sexualized shows on regular cable that expose children to disturbing imagery, and why the FX Network needs to be kicked off the basic cable tier. Dan Gainor, Vice President of Business and Culture at the Media […]

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  • Free Speech vs. Political Correctness on College Campuses

    November 11, 2015

    By Staff at Here & Now Its been a busy week for college protesters. On Tuesday, hundreds marched at Yale University, protesting alleged racial insensitivity on campus. This came after student anger was raised to the boiling point when a sociology professor and his wife, both of whom oversee a student residence, emailed students saying it might be reasonable not to ban Halloween costumes that some consider offensive, but instead to use them as an opportunity for dialogue. At the University of Missouri, both Chancellor R. Brown Loftin and President Tim Wolfestepped down as protests over alleged systemic racism and […]

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  • On the Front Lines of the Fight for Free Speech at Yale

    November 11, 2015

    By Greg Lukianoff at The Washington Post Coincidences can be spooky. Last week, I showed up at Yale University in the middle of a campus crisis—and got drawn into it myself. I was visiting to give a long-planned lecture on campus free speech. When I showed up, students were in an uproar over an email sent by one of the heads of the very dormitory where I was scheduled to speak. Enter Erika Christakis, lecturer and associate master of Yale’s Silliman College (for non-Yalies, a dormitory). Erika is open-minded and a consistent critic of groupthink. When Yale’s Intercultural Affairs Committee […]

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  • Yale Student Protesters Allegedly Spit on Free Speech Advocates

    November 11, 2015

    By Peter Fricke at Campus Reform Students at Yale University are reacting with outrage to the suggestion that freedom of expression trumps their sensitivities, allegedly even spitting on attendees at a free speech rally. During a conference on “The Future of Free Speech” Friday evening hosted by the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale, student activists became incensed by a comment made by one of the speakers that was posted on social media, leading them to converge on the auditorium in an effort to disrupt the event,The Yale Daily News reports. The disruption was prompted by a remark from […]

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  • Yale Students Protest Forum on Free Speech

    November 10, 2015

    By Jonathan H. Adler at The Washington Post In addition to the events last week at Yale that Eugene discussed here, on Friday some Yale students protested a forum on free speech on university campuses sponsored by the William F. Buckley Jr. Program at Yale. From the Yale Daily News: After a comment made by speaker Greg Lukianoff during a private William F. Buckley, Jr. Program conference on free speech was posted on the Facebook group “Overheard at Yale” Friday afternoon, over 100 students gathered around Linsly-Chittenden Hall to voice their anger. “Looking at the reaction to [Silliman College Associate Master] Erika […]

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  • Can Colleges Protect Free Speech While also Curbing Voices of Hate?

    November 10, 2015

    By Nick Anderson and Susan Svrluga at The Washington Post College campuses across the country have plunged into an intense debate that pits free-speech advocates against those who want to rein in insults, slurs and other offensive expressions. Student uprisings at Yale, the University of Missouri and elsewhere show a passionate desire to confront racism and bigotry in all its forms, from the disgustingly overt — a fecal swastika smeared on a bathroom wall in Columbia, Mo. — to the subtle or even unintentional offenses known as “micro-aggressions.” But the drive to combat hurtful and hateful speech is colliding in […]

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  • Will someone please save the Yalies (from themselves): Column

    November 10, 2015

    By Kevin D. Williamson at USA Today Really, Yale — you shouldn’t have! All this for little ol’ me? It wasn’t really for little ol’ me, in fact. On Friday, I was honored to be a guest of the William F. Buckley Jr. Program at Yale, where I participated in a panel on freedom of speech with the wonderful writer Harry Stein and professor Bradley A. Smith, a noted law scholar. The Yale kids did their screaming best to prevent us from having a conversation about free speech — the Yale kids are utterly immune to irony — but the event went […]

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  • The Delicate Little Flowers on Today’s College Campuses

    November 10, 2015

    By Jonah Goldberg at Los Angeles Times It seems like every week there’s a new horror story of political correctness run amok at some college campus. A warning not to wear culturally insensitive Halloween costumes sparked an imbroglio at Yale, which went viral over the weekend.A lecturer asked in an email, “Is there no room anymore for a child to be a little bit obnoxious … a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?” Students went ballistic. When an administrator (who is the lecturer’s spouse) defended free speech, some students wanted his head. One student wrote in an op-ed […]

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  • A Free-Speech Conference Inflamed Racial Tension at Yale University and Drew Protesters

    November 10, 2015

    By Abby Jackson at Business Insider Yale University has been in upheaval since two racially charged incidents occurred on Halloween weekend. On Friday, tensions on the New Haven, Connecticut, campus continued to escalate when students protested a William F. Buckley Jr. conference on free speech, The Yale Daily News reports. Greg Lukianoff, the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, spoke at the event. He spurred the protest with a comment he made about students who spoke out against an email Silliman College Associate Master Erika Christakis sent supporting students’ right to wear offensive Halloween costumes. “Looking at the reaction […]

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  • Yale’s Idiot Children

    November 10, 2015

    By Kevin D. Williamson at National Review  Really, Yale — you shouldn’t have! All this for little ol’ me? It wasn’t really for little ol’ me, in fact. On Friday, I was honored to be a guest of the William F. Buckley Jr. Program at Yale, where I participated in a panel on freedom of speech with the wonderful writer Harry Stein and professor Bradley A. Smith, a noted law scholar. The Yale kids did their screaming best to prevent us from having a conversation about free speech — the Yale kids are utterly immune to irony — but the event went […]

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  • Race and the Free-Speech Diversion

    November 10, 2015

    By Jelani Cobb at The New Yorker Of the many concerns unearthed by the protests at two major universities this week, the velocity at which we now move from racial recrimination to self-righteous backlash is possibly the most revealing. The unrest that occurred at the University of Missouri and at Yale University, two outwardly dissimilar institutions, shared themes of racial obtuseness, arthritic institutional responses to it, and the feeling, among students of color, that they are tenants rather than stakeholders in their universities. That these issues have now been subsumed in a debate over political correctness and free speech on […]

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  • Yale Students, Faculty: We Don’t Want to be Coddled, but Create a “Safe Space” From Offense

    November 9, 2015

    By Taylor Millard at Hot Air Some staff and students at Yale University believe they have the right to not be offended. Jazz has written about this already, but the way this story is really starting to spiral more. It all started when the Intercultural Affairs Committee sent an email to students right before Halloween telling them to express themselves, but please don’t be offensive (emphasis mine). However, Halloween is also unfortunately a time when the normal thoughtfulness and sensitivity of most Yale students can sometimes be forgotten and some poor decisions can be made including wearing feathered headdresses, turbans, […]

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  • Hundreds March at Yale in Solidarity with Minority Students

    November 9, 2015

    By Isaac Stanley-Becker at The Washington Post NEW HAVEN, CONN. — A crowd of hundreds stopped traffic on city streets surrounding the Yale University campus Monday in a march to show solidarity with minority students who say they are barred from full participation at the Ivy League school. Winding their way past the university’s four cultural centers — and the Yale chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, where brothers have been accused of turning black women away from a party last weekend — students displayed signs urging the university to support women of color, faculty of color and ethnic studies. One […]

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  • Like Missouri, Yale Students Upset by Racial Incidents and Remarks on Campus

    November 9, 2015

    By Doug G. Ware at United Press International  NEW HAVEN, Conn., Nov. 9 (UPI) — As the president of the University of Missouri resigned in the face of growing racial tension Monday, some students at Yale continued leveling criticisms at the Ivy League institution over what they view as apathy by the college toward similar matters of race. Timothy M. Wolfe, the University of Missouri system’s president, stepped down Monday following several days of mounting pressure over multiple alleged incidents of racism on the Columbia campus. In New Haven, some students are complainingthe same type of thing is happening. The controversy […]

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  • A Clash Between Administrators and Students at Yale went Viral. Why that is Unfortunate for all Concerned.

    November 9, 2015

    By Daniel W. Drezner at The Washington Post  Over the past week, Yale University has been embroiled in some intense debates about race on campus. The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Sarah Brown offers some succinct backstory: At the heart of the controversy are two emails and a Facebook post. On October 28, Yale’s Intercultural Affairs Council sent a message that urged students to reconsider wearing cultural costumes on Halloween that might offend some students. Erika Christakis, a Yale lecturer who serves as an associate master at one of the university’s 12 residential colleges, wrote a responsequestioning the need to exercise […]

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  • Racial Tensions Escalate

    November 9, 2015

    By Scott Jaschik at Inside Higher Ed Racial tensions at the University of Missouri and Yale University have escalated dramatically in the last week. At the University of Missouri, a student at the flagship campus at Columbia is approaching a week on a hunger strike to demand the resignation of President Tim Wolfe, who has not done enough, minority students charge, to deal with racist incidents on campus. In a highly unusual move, the black players on the football team on Saturday announced that they would boycott games in the future unless Wolfe resigns. He has not done so, but […]

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  • Only Conservatives Can Save the American Campus–But Should We?

    November 8, 2015

    By Milo Yiannopoulos at Breitbart What does it take to generate a rabid, Maoist-style mob demanding political purges, on an Ivy League campus, in 2015? An email defending “offensive” Halloween costumes, apparently.That’s what kicked off the latest nadir in campus zealotry, this time at no less a university than Yale. Typically the fall is a time when Yale students are obsessed with defeating arch-rival Harvard at football, a war on the gridiron that occasionally turn ugly. This year the sport of choice seems to be the public castigation of professors by students, a battle on the quadrangle destined to become just as menacing. Outrage began at Yale […]

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  • What’s Really Going On at Yale

    November 8, 2015

    By Aaron Z. Lewis at Medium By now, you’ve probably seen the video of a Yale student yelling at a professor, the Facebook post about a “white girls only” party, or the email about offensive Halloween costumes. Unfortunately, the short YouTube clips and articles I’ve seen don’t even come close to painting an accurate picture of what’s happening at Yale. I’m a senior here, and I’ve experienced the controversy firsthand over the past week (and years). I want to tell a more complete story and set a few facts straight. For starters: the protests are not really about Halloween costumes or […]

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  • Petulance And Idiocy At Yale

    November 8, 2015

    By Matt Vespa at Townhall.com Outrage has embroiled Yale University over Halloween costumes. It all began when the Associate Master of Silliman College, Erika Christakis, responded to an email sent by the Intercultural Affairs Committee prior to the annual day of trick-or-treating that asked students to be sensitive to politically incorrect costumes on Halloween. Silliman is one of the residential colleges at the university. Christakis, and her husband, Nicholas, the Master of Silliman, are now being targeted for termination by the student body for daring to say that Halloween is an exercise in free speech and expression. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education had […]

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  • Administrator’s Defending Student Free Speech is Apparently Reason to Remove the Administrator, According to Some Yale Students

    November 7, 2015

    By Eugene Volokh at The Washington Post Student dorms at Yale have resident faculty members, who live in the dorm with their families. (I should note for the record Yale’s view that these are “[f]ar more than dormitories” and “have been called ‘little paradises.’”) “The master is the chief administrative officer and the presiding faculty presence in each residential college,” “responsible for the physical well being and safety of students in the residential college, as well as for fostering and shaping the social, cultural, and educational life and character of the college.” “During the year, he or she hosts lectures, […]

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  • Yale Admins’ Comments On Offensive Halloween Costumes Spark Protest

    November 7, 2015

    By Hilary Hanson at Huffington Post  Some Yale University students are protesting two faculty members who criticized a campus-wide email about potentially offensive Halloween costumes. A group of about 100 students confronted Nicholas Christakis — who holds the administrative title of “master” at Silliman College, a residential college at the New Haven, Connecticut university — on Thursday because he expressed that the school should not police costumes that might offend other students, the Yale Daily News reports. (All undergraduates enrolled in Yale College also belong to a residential college.) Erika Christakis, Nicholas’ wife and an associate master at the college, sent an email on […]

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  • The Moment Yale Students Encircled and Shouted Down Professor Who Told Them to Just ‘Look Away’ if They Were Offended by Halloween Costumes

    November 7, 2015

    By Ollie Gillman for Dailymail.com This video shows the moment dozens of students encircled a Yale University official and screamed at him for sending an email telling them to ignore people dressed in offensive Halloween costumes. Nicholas Christakis, the master of Silliman College at Yale, was surrounded after telling students to allow others to exercise free speech by wearing what they wanted on Halloween. He was shouted down on Thursday as he tried to explain why he believed students should be able to wear what they want, with one young woman yelling at him and telling him to ‘shut the […]

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  • Free Speech Losing Ground

    November 7, 2015

    By Staff at The Columbus Dispatch It’s bad news that free speech is being curtailed on campuses across the country today. The worse news, though, is that many students don’t seem to realize it or care. A poll released by Yale University’s William F. Buckley Jr. Program, conducted by polling firm McLaughlin & Associates, found that more than half (51 percent) of students “are in favor of their college or university having speech codes to regulate speech for students and faculty.” That means a student or teacher accused of saying something bigoted or “wrong” can be charged with a violation […]

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  • Whatever Happened to the Left’s Love of Free Speech?

    November 6, 2015

    By Roger Pilon at Lincoln Time-News There was a time in America when the Left could be counted on to defend free speech. But as countless examples today demonstrate, those days are long gone. From campus speech codes to campaign finance to prosecutorial threats against climate change critics and more, the evidence is as fresh as this morning’s newspapers. Campus assaults have been so well documented by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) that they need no elaboration here. But the latest campaign finance “reform”—”until the court reverses its decision in Citizens United”—can be found championed in an […]

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  • Watch Students Tell Yale to Fire a Staffer Who Upset Their Safe Space

    November 6, 2015

    By Robby Soave at Reason Online  Students are demanding that Yale University fire two administrators who failed to speak out against offensive Halloween costumes. This is just one of the grievances of activist students—many of them people of color—who claim Yale is not a safe space for them. On Thursday, the students surrounded Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway—a black man—in an outdoor space and chided him for failing to take action against a fraternity that had allegedly prevented black women from attending its party. (It’s not at all clear the allegation is true, according to The Daily Beast.) After giving […]

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  • After five years of ‘Unlearning Liberty,’ book’s prescriptions command urgent attention

    November 15, 2017

    The week professor Allison Stanger spent in the dark was illuminating. Emerging from an unexpected convalescence back in March, she wrote about it in an op-ed for The New York Times: “Understanding the Angry Mob at Middlebury That Gave Me a Concussion.” Stanger was assaulted earlier that month when violent protesters confronted conservative academic Charles Murray during a speaking engagement at Middlebury College. Stanger, who teaches international politics and economics at the Vermont liberal arts school, is a self-described Democrat who openly disagrees with Murray. But she had been willing to engage with Murray’s ideas — to hear him out — […]

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  • The scariest part of Halloween: Picking a costume

    October 31, 2017

    Hey, students, it’s that time of year again: Halloween! Time to put on your — no, wait, don’t wear that. Or how about your — oh, hmm, on second thought, better not wear that either. In fact, I think the only safe things to dress up as this year are 1) yourself; 2) a character whose ethnic makeup precisely matches your own (I’m still waiting for the half-Hungarian, one-quarter-Polish, and one-quarter-Lithuanian princess — I’m looking at you, Disney!); or 3) something non-human. Almost anything else risks running afoul of the campus costume police. Thankfully, Halloween hysteria seems to have died […]

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  • One Year Later, Erika Christakis Breaks Her Silence on Yale Halloween Controversy

    October 28, 2016

    “The right to speak freely may be enshrined in some of our nation’s great universities, but the culture of listening needs repair.” So begins Erika Christakis’ op-ed in The Washington Post today, in which—for the first time since she sent an email to Yale University students last fall asking them “to think critically about an official set of guidelines on costumes to avoid at Halloween”—the early childhood lecturer reveals shocking details about the fallout she and her husband faced for attempting to foster dialogue on the topic of student autonomy at Yale. But it is Christakis’ moving and measured analysis […]

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  • More Campus Leaders Address Free Speech; Some Do It Better Than Others

    October 27, 2016

    We’ve been keeping our eye on the recent uptick in campus leaders addressing free speech. In our latest roundup of public commitments to freedom of speech by college and university administrators, we’re focusing only on “The Good”—bringing you a few of our recent favorites. We’ve even included one statement that almost made our “Bad” list. Read on to find out why: The Good George Mason University (GMU) In an email to GMU students on Monday, Vice President for University Life Rose Pascarell took a pro-speech speech stance on the topic of civility in the wake of several recent campus events […]

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  • New Video of Last Year’s Yale Halloween Costume Confrontation Emerges

    September 13, 2016

    Last year, FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff was at Yale University for a speaking engagement when he captured and posted a short series of videos (about seven minutes) of the now well-known confrontation between Yale students and Professor Nicholas Christakis. The confrontation was over an email that former Yale instructor Erika Christakis (Professor Christakis’ wife) had sent to students at Yale’s Silliman College addressing the issue of whether Yale should police “offensive” student Halloween costumes. (The Christakises have since stepped down from their positions as “masters” of Silliman College, and Erika has ceased teaching at Yale altogether.) Whatever your […]

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  • Nicholas Christakis in ‘The New York Times’: ‘Teaching Inclusion in a Divided World’

    June 23, 2016

    In today’s New York Times, Yale University professor Nicholas Christakis adds a post-mortem to last fall’s controversy that put him and his wife Erika Christakis—then also a faculty member at Yale—at the center of a national conversation over the role that free speech plays at colleges and universities. My answer to question re free speech @Yale this year: https://t.co/pRzfKV8XUQ “Disagreement is not oppression. Words are not violence.” — Nicholas Christakis (@NAChristakis) June 23, 2016 The piece, “Teaching Inclusion in a Divided World,” provides both recognition and encouragement to historically marginalized students who say some of America’s most cherished values—like free […]

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  • Yale Faculty Resign From Residential College Roles; Concerns about Free Speech Remain

    May 26, 2016

    Late yesterday, master of Yale University’s Silliman College Nicholas Christakis and his wife, associate master Erika Christakis, resigned from their Silliman College duties to pursue academic work full time. In a statement posted to Twitter, Nicholas wrote: My wife, Erika, and I have devoted our professional lives to advocating for the well being of all young people. While we cherish the years we have spent living among undergraduates, both at Harvard and at Yale, and while we remain faithful to our confidence in Yale students, we have decided that it is time to return full-time to our respective fields of […]

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  • Yale Profs in ‘NYT’ Op-Ed: ‘Why College Is Not Home’

    February 5, 2016

    In a thoughtful piece in today’s New York Times, Yale University physics professor A. Douglas Stone and Dr. Mary Schwab-Stone, a psychiatrist and former Yale psychology faculty member, revisit the Erika Christakis debacle from last fall at Yale. They argue that The college years — a time for important growth in autonomy and the consolidation of adult identity and life goals — have evolved into an extended period of adolescence during which many of today’s students are not saddled with adult responsibilities. Torch readers will remember our early reporting on the Yale Halloween costume incident last fall, punctuated by calls […]

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  • Scientist: Demotion of Free Speech at Yale Imperils Intellectual Advances

    December 23, 2015

    Scientist Steven Benner was one of the student signatories to Yale University’s 1975 Woodward Report, which articulated the university’s commitment to free expression. Amid recent controversies over free speech on the Ivy League campus, that report is being revisited. Earlier this month, Benner addressed what the Woodward Report means for today’s Yale students in a Yale Daily News op-ed. “Censorship is the exercise of power by the empowered,” he wrote. “Free speech is how the disempowered become empowered.” When I talked to Benner on a recent morning, he expounded on the ideas in his Daily News op-ed, discussed his reliance […]

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  • UPDATED: Erika Christakis to Quit Teaching After Email Controversy; Husband to Take Sabbatical

    December 8, 2015

    Erika Christakis will no longer teach at Yale University. Christakis told The Washington Post late last week that she is resigning “to return to her work with young children and families.” Christakis had faced calls to resign her post as associate master of one of Yale’s dormitories, after she questioned the reasoning behind Yale’s request that students not wear culturally insensitive Halloween costumes. The early childhood educator will continue in her role as associate master of Silliman College, but has cancelled her spring courses over the backlash. Christakis’ October 30 email to Silliman students questioned the concepts of “safe spaces” […]

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  • Yale Faculty Defend Freedom of Speech, Express Support for Christakises in Open Letter

    November 30, 2015

    Forty-nine current or emeritus faculty members at Yale University have signed an open letter of support for Erika and Nicholas Christakis’ right to “free speech and freedom of intellectual expression.” The Christakises—who serve as masters at Silliman College, one of Yale’s residential colleges—have been at the center of a free speech controversy ever since Erika Christakis sent an email to her Silliman College students questioning administrative intrusion into student autonomy and expressive rights in the context of controversial Halloween costumes. The open letter, reported on today by the Yale Daily News, is a response to student demands that the Christakises […]

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  • Yale Expresses Support for Faculty at Center of Halloween Email Controversy

    November 18, 2015

    NEW HAVEN, Conn., November 18, 2015—In an email sent to students yesterday, the president of Yale University and the dean of Yale College affirmed their support for two faculty members at the center of a free speech controversy over Halloween costumes. On October 30, Erika Christakis, associate master of Yale’s Silliman College, responded to an email from the school’s Intercultural Affairs Council that asked students to be thoughtful about the cultural implications of their Halloween costumes. In her response to the Silliman community, Christakis questioned what she and some Silliman students perceived as an intrusion into the expressive rights of […]

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  • Progress at Yale, But a Conspicuous Omission

    November 13, 2015

    After a tumultuous week at Yale University, we are starting to see some progress—and hopefully a way forward. On Tuesday, Yale’s president and the dean of Yale College issued a welcome reaffirmation of the necessity of freedom of expression at the institution. Now, the institution must make clear that Yale supports Erika and Nicholas Christakis and they will not face punishment or termination for their role in starting a national conversation about the importance of free speech on campus.   The past week has provided a powerful demonstration of how free speech enlightens and challenges us, on campus and beyond. […]

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  • FIRE’s Lukianoff on Being ‘On the Front Lines of the Fight for Free Speech at Yale’

    November 11, 2015

    The Washington Post ran an op-ed today from FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff detailing the events he witnessed during his recent visit to Yale University. By wild coincidence, Greg was at Yale last week for a conference on free speech. Little did he know he would soon find himself embroiled in the controversy himself as the campus exploded into outrage and unrest over tensions fueled by allegations of racism at a fraternity party and Yale professor Erika Christakis’ email about offensive Halloween costumes. While the events at Yale have sparked a much-needed national dialogue about free speech on campus, […]

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  • ‘The Atlantic’ on the Yale Halloween Email and Free Speech Controversy

    November 9, 2015

    Conor Friedersdorf covers “The New Intolerance of Student Activism” in his front-page article for The Atlantic’s website today, discussing the ongoing controversy at Yale over an email by Silliman College Associate Master Erika Christakis in which she questioned the wisdom of “an institutional (which is to say: bureaucratic and administrative) exercise of implied control” over students’ Halloween costumes. FIRE’s Haley Hudler covered the story in detail here on The Torch last Friday. Friedersdorf begins by explaining why readers should care about what is happening at Yale, saying, “[e]veryone invested in how the elites of tomorrow are being acculturated should understand, […]

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  • Yale Students Demand Resignations from Faculty Members Over Halloween Email

    November 6, 2015

    Tensions at Yale University hit a boiling point yesterday after an email about Halloween costumes created a week-long controversy on campus. Students called for the resignation of Associate Master of Silliman College Erika Christakis after she responded to an email from the school’s Intercultural Affairs Council asking students to be thoughtful about the cultural implications of their Halloween costumes. According to The Washington Post, students are also calling for the resignation of her husband, Master of Silliman College, Nicholas Christakis, who defended her statement. FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff recorded video of students confronting Nicholas Christakis yesterday in the […]

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