Yale Faculty Members Sign Letter Supporting Colleagues Harassed by Protesters

December 3, 2015

By Ashe Schow at The Washington Examiner

A group of Yale faculty members have signed a letter supporting two colleagues at the center of massive campus protests.

Nicholas and Erika Christakis had been maligned on campus — even surrounded and shouted at by protesters — over an email that Erika sent prior to Halloween suggesting that students simply look away from costumes they deem offensive rather than creating a set of rules about what is and isn’t acceptable to wear. Protesters demanded that Erika resign and then demanded the same of Nicholas because he defended his wife.

Now, 49 current or emeritus faculty members are defending the couple in a letter.

“The email that Erika Christakis sent to the Silliman community did not express support for racist expressions, but rather focused primarily on the question of whether monitoring and criticizing such expression should be done in a top-down manner, when in fact the community involved is a group of college students,” the faculty wrote. “One can differ with her suggestion that administrative bodies should not play such an oversight role at Yale, but the suggestion itself clearly does not constitute support for racist expressions.”

The faculty wrote that they were “deeply troubled” that Erika’s “modest” request for self-monitoring as opposed to administrative nannying was met with demands for her resignation and accusations that she was a racist.

“A crucial component of free expression is the possibility of open and civil discussions, without vilifying those who disagree with one’s own viewpoint,” the faculty wrote. “Our support for these principles is not in conflict with opposition to racism and respect for diversity.”

The members add that they condemn racism and support efforts to diversify Yale’s faculty and student body, but remind students that “Progessive values and social justice are not advanced by scapegoating those who share those values.”

H/t The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

Schools: Yale University