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, Greg wants to remind readers of the most important takeaway:
[T]he focus should remain on defending Erika and Nicholas Christakis’s free speech rights. In today’s campus climate, when professors find themselves on the “wrong” side of the culture war, even those with tenure can find their jobs in jeopardy.
I have seen time and again university administrations press faculty to resign for their controversial expression. The university usually tries to make the resignation look like it was the professor’s own decision. If this were to happen at Yale, it would be a chilling warning to future faculty and students that if you even mildly question the prevailing orthodoxy on campus, you will have hell to pay.
Yale students, alumni, and members of the public must demand that the Christakises face no threat of punishment, and if either professor steps down now or in the coming months, it must be understood to represent Yale’s glaring failure to live up to its own glowing promises to protect and honor freedom of speech on campus.