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


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Case Overview


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.