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

By 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 opinion on the controversy, it’s fair to say that the existence of the video is part of the reason that the events of November 5, 2015, became such big news. One interesting aspect of the situation is that, as both the video shows and as Greg has previously remarked, there were a lot of other people also recording the confrontation. Yet other recordings of the confrontation were surprisingly hard to come by, leading some to suggest that FIRE’s video painted a misleading picture of the situation. FIRE obviously did not and does not agree. Further, when we posted the video on our website, we did it along with several pages of explanation and context about the situation. (FIRE did not, as has been falsely alleged, reveal the name or identifying information of any student in the video.)

But, as the old saying goes, you don’t have to take our word for it. Yesterday, James Kirchick of Tablet magazine reported on other, not widely seen videos (sent to him by “a source at Yale”) covering approximately 25 minutes of the hours-long confrontation.

We invite readers to watch this newly reported video and make their own judgments about the situation and the context of FIRE’s reporting.

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