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Yale students go berserk defending their right not to be offended

Yale students go berserk defending their right not to be offended

“Stop instigating more debate”

Just when you thought the “safe spaces” PC-plagued college campuses couldn’t get more ridiculous, Yale students step up to prove you wrong.

Yale’s Intercultural Affairs Council (yes, they have such a thing) sent out an email prior to Halloween asking that students be thoughtful in their costume selection so as not to offend others.  They listed specific examples of costumes deemed offensive,  “such as feathered headdresses, turbans, ‘war paint,’ and blackface as examples of inappropriate ‘cultural appropriation and/or misrepresentation’.”

Erika Christakis, Associate Master of Silliman College, responded to the email and defended students’ right to wear Halloween costumes of their choosing, even if said costumes might be considered outrageous, inappropriate, provocative, or even offensive.

Christakis further urged students “not to take offense at insensitive Halloween costumes,” and she told students, “‘If you don’t like a costume someone is wearing, look away, or tell them you are offended.  ‘Talk to each other. Free speech and the ability to tolerate offence are the hallmarks of a free and open society’.”

FIRE reports:

Christakis drew on her experiences as a child development specialist to question whether a university should dictate what students should and shouldn’t wear on Halloween:

I don’t wish to trivialize genuine concerns about cultural and personal representation, and other challenges to our lived experience in a plural community. I know that many decent people have proposed guidelines on Halloween costumes from a spirit of avoiding hurt and offense. I laud those goals, in theory, as most of us do. But in practice, I wonder if we should reflect more transparently, as a community, on the consequences of an institutional (which is to say: bureaucratic and administrative) exercise of implied control over college students.

In addition to expressing concerns about how policing students’ costumes can limit the exercise of imagination, free speech, and free expression, Christakis asked:

Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious… a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive? American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition.

Yale students, however, did not appreciate this attempt to loosen the university’s control over their Halloween costume choices nor the suggestion that they can control their own response to insensitive costume choices by choosing not to be offended or by the simple act of looking away.  Indeed, they are now demanding Christakis resign for daring to suggest they should be free to make their own decisions . . .  about Halloween costumes.

When her husband, Master of Silliman College, Nicholas Christakis defended his wife’s statements, students responded . . . well, as you might expect.

Watch (language warning):

The above student screams that her “home” is threatened by Christakis’s email and by her husband’s defense of it.

This concept of Yale as both “safe space” and “home” is illustrated by one student writing at The Yale Herald about her “hurt at home” (Edit, 11/10/15: this post has been taken down, but is cached here):

As a Silimander, I feel that my home is being threatened. Last week, Erika Christakis, the associate master of Silliman College, sent an email to the Silliman community that called an earlier entreaty for Yalies to be more sensitive about culturally appropriating Halloween costumes a threat to free speech.

. . . . Today, when a group of us, organized originally by the Black Student Alliance at Yale, spoke with Christakis in the Silliman Courtyard, his response once again disappointed many of us. When students tried to tell him about their painful personal experiences as students of color on campus, he responded by making more arguments for free speech. It’s unacceptable when the Master of your college is dismissive of your experiences. The Silliman Master’s role is not only to provide intellectual stimulation, but also to make Silliman a safe space that all students can come home to.

. . . . I have had to watch my friends defend their right to this institution. This email and the subsequent reaction to it have interrupted their lives. I have friends who are not going to class, who are not doing their homework, who are losing sleep, who are skipping meals, and who are having breakdowns. I feel drained. And through it all, Christakis has shown that he does not consider us a priority.

. . . . Christakis’ actions have not been aimed at healing a divided community. Instead, they continue to frame the issue in an “us against them” split. Christakis needs to stop instigating more debate. He needs to stop trying to argue with people who are hurting, regardless of his personal opinions. Being the Master of Silliman is a position of power. To use it to marginalize so much of the student body is deplorable.

Someone suggests they can (not that they must or even should, mind you) wear Halloween costumes (Halloween costumes!) that someone else might find offensive, and these students become unhinged and melt down; they’re not eating, sleeping, or doing homework, and some are having “breakdowns.”  What is going to happen to these precious snowflakes when they leave college and face the real world?  Their delicate sensibilities and sense of perpetual victimhood and entitlement will not serve them well.

Yale’s president, however, is fostering their extended adolescence of self-indulgence and stompy-footed temper tantrums.  He’s not defending the faculty members but is instead expressing his sorrow that Yale administrators “failed” the students.

The Washington Post reports:

“We failed you,” Peter Salovey, a psychologist, told more than 40 students gathered in the ornate room where the Yale Corporation meets, on the top floor of the president’s office.

“I think we have to be a better university. I think we have to do a better job,” he said, according to several students in the room who were taking notes. The four-hour meeting concluded a dramatic day on this Ivy League campus, as students confronted administrators about a series of recent events that have laid bare long-simmering racial tensions at the elite school.

All of this is completely surreal to me, but perhaps Yale is trying to model itself on “Safe Space University“?

And woe betide the person who puts this entire incident in its proper perspective.  Yale News reports:

After a comment that speaker Greg Lukianoff made during a private William F. Buckley, Jr. Program conference on free speech was posted on the Facebook group “Overheard at Yale” this afternoon, over 100 students gathered around Linsly-Chittenden Hall to voice their anger.

“Looking at the reaction to Erika Christakis’s email, you would have thought someone wiped out an entire Indian village,” Lukianoff said, according to Gian-Paul Bergeron ’17, who was present at the event and posted the quotation online. According to seven other attendees interviewed, the remark was followed by some laughter in the crowd.

. . . .  The online Facebook post led a group of Native American women, other students of color and their supporters to protest the conference in an impromptu gathering outside of LC 102, where the Buckley event was taking place. Officers from the Yale University Police Department stood in front of the entrance, announcing that the event was at full capacity and unregistered individuals were not allowed to enter.

The situation escalated when President of the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program Zach Young ’17 came outside to offer food to the protestors. Students outside demanded that a representative be allowed to join the conference and voice their views. But another attendee engaged with the protesters, saying that unregistered students were not allowed into the room and adding that speakers within the conference were entitled to their views as well. The standoff quickly became confrontational, with both sides raising their voices.

Yale students are protesting a talk on free speech because someone exercised that right and said something they didn’t like.

You can’t make this stuff up.


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As liberals are hauled off to the guillotine, maybe some will wake up and realize that their academic dream is turning into a nightmare.

legalizehazing | November 7, 2015 at 6:28 pm

What an utterly embarrassing exchange. I always try to tell myself these stories are overblown and people aren’t really like this… It’s really bad. How pathetic

nordic_prince | November 7, 2015 at 6:37 pm

Wah, wah, wah. What an embarrassing bunch of crybaby brats. Send them home to Mommy – they’re clearly not ready for university, much less real life ~

You can’t make this stuff up.

Actually, you could.

But, most people would think it too far-fetched, to take seriously.

Would any employer (other a government agency or a university) dare to hire a Yale graduate? One of these Yale children would crumble during company orientation. They would never even survive long enough to report to their actual job.

    TX-rifraph in reply to TX-rifraph. | November 7, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    It is not just the children (dare I call them students?), the University President could of pretended to have a backbone. Where are the Regents? They should fire the President because it is clear that leadership is not anywhere in sight.

Separation of Church and State is a myth told by people who want to establish their own Church… cult, really… and brand of “morality”.

Obama encouraged this behavior when he raised the lackluster “Rainbow” flag over The White House, and defended his other pro-choice or unprincipled policies. The ass does indeed bray from the head.

“It’s unacceptable when the Master of your college is dismissive of your experiences.”

No one is dismissive of your experiences. We’re dismissive of your silly little feelings. Deal with it.

Robespierre and his followers are alive and doing very well on the campi of the American University system. Next the snowflake students will be erecting guillotines on the campus mall and start beheading people who don’t agree with them. As with the French Revolution, this too will pass and this country will be the worst for it.

That’s it. As far as I am concerned, Yale, as an institution, has assumed the status of “too stupid to be allowed out of the house without close adult supervision”.

DINORightMarie | November 7, 2015 at 8:13 pm

This is scary stuff. These people believe this stuff!! They have no idea that they are saying stifling debate is good, that having a different opinion is not to be tolerated. Period.

And they learned this where?! Not just at Yale, I’m afraid.

And their parents PAY for this?!?!?! Disgraceful.

Yale is my alma mater, and I am ashamed of her. I have sent letters to admissions and to the Dean of the college. Admissions should reject anyone who cannot endorse the principle of free speech (among other items) and the Dean needs to “grow a pair.” Also the President. Alumni will react adversely to all this.

    “Alumni will react adversely to all this.”

    You really think so? Yale is not the only place with the problem. It is pervasive in practically every institution of “higher learning”. I see no alumni having any real effect anywhere.

      TtT in reply to Barry. | November 7, 2015 at 10:36 pm

      When Yale grads start losing out on jobs, when they get tired of being maligned, when the value of that degree takes a dive in real dollars and in votes of confidence – alumni will take a stand.
      Personally, I’m done dealing with Ivy Leaguers and only do so when there is no other choice. They consistently over promise and under deliver. Combine garbage like this uproar and you have a group of people that are a net liability.

        Barry in reply to TtT. | November 9, 2015 at 1:17 pm

        “…alumni will take a stand.”

        Good luck with that. Recent history would suggest that is “hope” on your part with no basis in reality.

    I hope the entire Ivy League knows the rest of the world does not trust it or respect it. From grade inflation to this uber PC nonsense. Can’t trust them to be smart, can’t trust them to be sane. Can’t trust them.

    rabidfox in reply to nomadic100. | November 8, 2015 at 2:33 am

    Alumni won’t tolerate this? Isn’t Yale’s endowment well into the hundreds of millions? What do they care if a handful of alumni don’t send checks.

My first thought about the Yale student screaming…

A completely spoiled, pampered rotten brat!
Who has no concept of the real world! She will not
be prepared for life.

What is happening to us?

    The sad reality is that, simply because she went to Yale, she will probably get a six-figure job right out of school. Then, when she is “offended” by some benign remark by a co-worker, will file a lawsuit alleging discrimination or hostile work environment and obtain a multi-million dollar settlement.

      Anonamom in reply to mpckac. | November 8, 2015 at 10:38 am

      Exactly right.

      For all the gnashing of teeth and declaring of “They’ll get out into the REAL world and that’ll l’arn ’em,” we overlook the reality: If they graduate from Yale, they most likely will not inhabit our “real world.” They will enter the rarified space of “our betters,” filled with people who share their ideas. The Academy may be at the forefront, pushing political correctness to new extremes, but don’t kid yourself. These ideas are infesting bureaucracies (and our culture) at an alarming rate. Anyone read the policy manuals for any major corporations or large government agencies lately? Anyone spend much time reading the opinions of 20-30 somethings on what constitutes “hate” and what we ought to do about it? The edge is being pushed further because the center has shifted.

Freedom is mocked in order to coddle fragile egos that can’t tolerate dissent. Her parents should be ashamed that they raised such a petulant baby. Haven’t cut the umbilical cord apparently.

“Sanctuary Cities,” whether of the municipal type or the campus type, are meant to protect feeble liberal ideology, narcissists, and votes (see Cornel and Watter’s World story).

The rest do not matter.

All of this happened AFTER Yale announced that it will spend $50 million to “increase faculty diversity.”

Nothing will ever satisfy these people. The demands will continue to escalate and the administration will continue to capitulate.

    Valerie in reply to somebody. | November 8, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    “Increase faculty diversity” is code for “hire people as paid political activists.” Our schools should not be piggy-banks for radicals.

Perhaps Yale should consider issuing “Paticipation Diplomas” to those students having difficulties with learning to be grown up adults,

    Barry in reply to Rick2guns. | November 9, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    “Perhaps Yale should consider issuing “Paticipation Diplomas”…”

    They already do, they’re called diploma’s 🙂

    Yale is not alone in this.

The Friendly Grizzly | November 8, 2015 at 11:48 am

Remember, folks: because Yale is one of those schools from which “our leadership” springs, these tender little snivelers will soon be in the houses of congress, possibly the White House, and at the helm of what little industry we have left.

Doesn’t that just make you feel warm and fuzzy all over?

    We must make certain the the Ivy League NOT be a source of elected bureaucracy.

    One term limit. Zero career politicians. Single-item bills ONLY in the legislature.

    Clear out the trough.

This is what an institution of higher learning gets when they admit people because of their skin color rather than their ability for the rigors of academics. That young woman is pathetic, as are those who support her.

Empress Trudy | November 9, 2015 at 7:58 am

Maybe all thought and words and speech and ideas should be banned entirely. Also do away with grades, studies, books, teachers and libraries. And require all colleges to admit 100% of all applicants.

buckeyeminuteman | November 9, 2015 at 1:21 pm

As a student at Yale, please tell me about your lack of privilege. Please, do tell!

How do black people tell the difference between someone judging them by skin color or someone just thinkin the black person is an a-hole?