The Fire - Tensions at Yale University hit a boiling point yesterday after an email about Halloween costumes created a week-long controversy on campus.
Students called for the resignation of Associate Master of Silliman College Erika Christakis after she responded to an email from the school’s Intercultural Affairs Council asking students to be thoughtful about the cultural implications of their Halloween costumes. According to The Washington Post, students are also calling for the resignation of her husband, Master of Silliman College, Nicholas Christakis, who defended her statement.
FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff recorded video of students confronting Nicholas Christakis yesterday in the courtyard of the Silliman College dormitory complex at Yale. Lukianoff was on Yale’s campus to speak at a conference on issues related to free speech in higher education.
How about Yale’s Master of Silliman College Nick Christakis putting every protestor’s mind in a pretzel here. “What do you mean…free speech? What is that? You’re trying to say people are allowed to say things that I don’t agree with or that I’m offended by without being immediately fired if I make enough signs and stomp my feet loud enough?? Hmmm…I don’t like that at all. Let’s fire you now.”
One of the stronger accusations the students make is that Christakis’ refusal to apologize for his wife’s email makes him unfit to be master of Silliman.
“As your position as master, it is your job to create a place of comfort and home for the students that live in Silliman,” one student says. “You have not done that. By sending out that email, that goes against your position as master. Do you understand that?”
When Christakis disagreed, the student proceeded to yell at him.
“Who the fuck hired you?” she asked, arguing that Christakis should “step down” because being master is “not about creating an intellectual space,” but rather “creating a home.”
This student is not alone. Many other students are going so far as to demand that Christakis and his wife resign from their roles as master and associate master. According to the Washington Post, students were drafting a formal letter Thursday evening, calling for the removal of Christakis and her husband from their roles in Silliman.
College is not an intellectual space for higher learning and challenging yourself mentally anymore…it’s a $50K a year insulated bubble where you roast marshmallows and sing kumbaya with all your best friends. Mark that down.
Transcript via Reddit:
Professor: I’ve said I’m sorry for causing you pain.
Student 1: That is different.
Prof: That is different. That is different, in fact. That’s different than the statement that I’m sorry for what I said. There’s a big difference between the two, guys. The fact-
Student 1: Do you fundamentally stand behind what she said?
Prof: I stand behind free speech; yes, I do.
Student 2: Well then that sorry doesn’t mean anything.
Student 3: Even when it’s offensive?
Prof (addressing Stud 3): Even when it’s offensive. Especially if it’s offensive. Even if-
Stud 3: Even when it denigrates me?
Prof: Even when it denigrates you, even though I don’t agree with the content of the speech. I have the same objections to the speech that you do. The same ones.
Stud 2 (interrupting): But it doesn’t submit(?) to you-
Stud 1 (interrupting): But what about the swastika-
Prof (cont’d): But, I defend the right for people to speak their mind.
Stud 3: So when the IAC(?) sends out an email saying…
Prof: So who gets to decide what’s offensive? Who gets to decide guys?
Stud 2: When it hurts me!
Stud 1: When it’s offensive to me!
Prof: What if everybody says, “I’m hurt”? Does that mean everyone else has to stop speaking?
Student 4: But that’s not what was happening!
Stud 1: No! Because you don’t- No, but you don’t under-
Prof: Hold on. So I agree with the content of your speech. I am as against racism as you are. I am as against social inequality as you are. I have spent my life addressing these issues, even some of the students in my class can speak out to this, but that is different than the freedom of speech. The right to defend people to say whatever they want including you! Including your right to write what you want and speak to me; which I will also defend.
Stud 3: Th-The IAC
Girl to the camera: Joana(?), just ask him when he apologized. This is all interesting(?).
Prof: And one more thing, when I was at other institutions, I have defended people with your views against tremendous opposition. People with your views that the administration tried to ferret out and expel.
Prof: I will defend you to say whatever you want, anywhere you want. Do you understand? Except to disrupt a classroom where someone is trying to teach students; which is the Yale policy by the way.
Stud 3: So we’re coming up with new “excepts” now. Why don’t excepts-
Stud 1: But I don’t-
Prof: No, the one exception is because other people have rights to, not just you.