Dear President Peter Salovey, Dean Jonathan Holloway, and senior members of the Yale administration:
Next Yale, an alliance of Yale students of color and our allies, have come together to demand that Peter Salovey and the Yale administration implement immediate and lasting policies that will reduce the intolerable racism that students of color experience on campus every day.
In light of recent events, including the exclusion of black women from a Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity party, a letter from a Yale administrator condoning cultural appropriation, and the debate surrounding the renaming of Calhoun College, it should now be obvious that the state of the racial climate on Yale’s campus is unconscionable. These specific incidents reflect an escalation of a long history of racism at Yale, which has disproportionately harmed women of color.
This harm is quantifiable. Students of color at Yale are acutely aware of the painfully short lives of the Yalies of color that came before us. There is a preponderance of evidence that racist environments, like Yale, harm the physical and mental health of people of color, like us.
Over the past week, people of color, especially women, outpoured painful experiences of blatant racism at Yale and organized their peers to demonstrate solidarity and resilience. They spent hours meeting with President Salovey and Dean Holloway–as well as other administrators, faculty, and fellow students–in an attempt to ask for help in ensuring their safety and well-being on campus. President Salovey’s first response was to announce that Yale is now a tobacco-free campus. He spent the vast majority of his second email affirming Yale students’ right to free speech.
Because the administration has been unwilling to promptly address institutional and interpersonal racism at Yale, Next Yale has spent hours organizing, at great expense to our health and grades, to fight for a university at which we feel safe–a university that we would feel happy sending our younger siblings and eventual children to attend.
In the spirit of the nationwide student mobilization demanding racial equality on campus–particularly at University of Missouri, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Ithaca College–Next Yale intends to hold Yale accountable to its students of color in the public eye. The following demands are small but concrete steps toward this goal;
These demands supercede those published by the Black Student Alliance at Yale, as they have been collectively crafted by a diverse coalition of students. We expect students of color to be integral partners in the implementation of these demands.
We expect Peter Salovey to publicly announce his intention to implement these demands by November 18, 2015.
1) An ethnic studies distributional requirement for all Yale undergraduates and the immediate promotion of the Ethnicity, Race & Migration program to departmental status
a. The promotion of Native American Studies, Chicanx & Latinx Studies, Asian American Studies, and African Studies to program status under the ER&M department.
b. Curricula for classes that satisfy the ethnic studies distributional requirement must be designed by Yale faculty in the aforementioned areas of study
2) Mental health professionals that are permanently established in each of the four cultural centers with discretionary funds
a. More mental health professionals of color in Yale Mental Health.
3) An increase of two million dollars to the current annual operational budget for each cultural center.
a. Five full-time staff members in each of the cultural centers
b. Additional emergency and miscellaneous funds from the provost’s office to support the needs of first-generation, low-income, undocumented, and international students
4) Rename Calhoun College. Name it and the two new residential colleges after people of color.
a. Abolish the title “master”
b. Build a monument designed by a Native artist on Cross Campus acknowledging that Yale University was founded on stolen indigenous land.
5) Immediate removal of Nicholas and Erika Christakis from the positions of Master and Associate Master of Silliman College
a. The development of racial competence and respect training and accountability systems for all Yale affiliates
b. The inclusion of a question about the racial climate of the classrooms of both teaching fellows and professors in semester evaluations.
c. Bias reporting system on racial discrimination and an annual report that will be released to the Yale community.
6) The allocation of resources to support the physical well-being of international, first-generation, low-income, and undocumented students, in these ways, at these times:
a. Stipends for food and access to residential college kitchens during breaks
b. Dental and optometry services implemented as part of the Basic Yale Health plan
c. Eight financial aid consultants who are trained to deal specifically with financial aid application processes of international and undocumented students