Today’s Yale Daily News provides some fresh reporting on last November’s censorship of the Yale University Freshman Class Council’s T-shirt design, which featured an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote calling Harvard students "sissies." As we noted last week, in response to a letter from FIRE, Yale University President Richard C. Levin investigated what happened, discussed the matter with Dean Mary Miller, and expressed "regret" over Dean Miller’s role in the withdrawal of the T-shirt design. President Levin’s response also reaffirmed Yale’s commitment to the strong protection of free speech in its classic Woodward Report, stating that "it is not the role of the Dean or any other University official to suppress the speech of any student or student organization."
The Yale Daily News provides some new details:
When the Freshman Class Council [FCC] selected a T-shirt that used an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote to describe Harvard students as "sissies," members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Co-operative [LGBT co-op] objected, saying the word was a homophobic slur. Dean of Freshman Affairs Raymond Ou informed Miller of the controversy, and she immediately deemed the design "unacceptable," Ou said in November. Miller and Ou could not be reached for further comment Monday night.
FCC President Brandon Levin ’13 said he and the rest of the Council never spoke with Miller directly about the issue but that they received an e-mail from Ou detailing her concerns.
"We were under the impression that it was a directive," Brandon Levin said.
Brandon Levin said he and the rest of the FCC executive board had moved to address the issue before hearing from the deans, and were in a meeting with the LGBT Co-op board when they received Ou’s e-mail.
Meanwhile, I was more than a little surprised to learn from a FCC leader that the Freshman Class Council is far from an independent student government, being merely a "subsidiary" of the Yale College Dean’s Office reporting directly to Dean Ou. I wonder if Yale’s freshman class really knows about these arrangements and is comfortable with them. Can the FCC really enjoy the liberties affirmed by President Levin when it is a subsidiary of "the administrative center of Yale College"?