Students discovered a threatening message written in front of the Afro-American Cultural Center Wednesday night, prompting outrage at the incident and frustration with the Yale administration’s response to recent allegations of intimidation.
The message, scrawled in black ink on the front of a crumpled anti-war flier, read: “I hope you protesters and your children are killed in the next terrorist attack. Signed F— You.” The threat comes two weeks after several male students allegedly broke into a Calhoun College suite on March 27 and left a hateful message on the whiteboard of anti-war activist Katherine Lo ’05.
Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead said the incidents would be investigated.
Adrian Hopkins ’06 and Ralph Labossiere ’05 said they discovered the flier on the ground when they were leaving the Afro-American Cultural Center shortly after 9 p.m. Wednesday. The students present at the cultural center called the Yale Police a few hours later to report the flier, which students said must have been placed there sometime after 8:45 p.m.
Yale Police Lt. Michael Patten could not be reached for comment Thursday night.
“It’s very clear this is the same tactic of using hate speech or hate crime to try to silence people,” Afro-American Cultural Center staff member Christopher Jordan ’04 said. “It’s targeting a specific group based on their race, ethnicity and religion.”
Jordan said the cultural center was probably targeted because many students at the center are opposed to war and the Muslim Student Association often holds meetings there. But Jordan said there have been no officially organized anti-war efforts through the cultural center.
In response to the incident, a large number of concerned students from several campus organizations, including the Afro-American Cultural Center, the Muslim Students’ Association, the Students for Justice in Palestine and the Pan-Ethnic Coalition, gathered in the cultural center Thursday night to discuss possible plans for a response to the recent incidents.
The meeting was organized by Concerned Black Students at Yale, a new student coalition that was created partially in response to the flier. Shelita Stewart ’04, a member of the new group, said the organization aims to end the “hostilities suffered by students of color on Yale campus.”
Students who attended the meeting, which was publicized through mass e-mailings, expressed frustration with the administration’s response to the two alleged incidents.
Brodhead sent an e-mail to Yale College students Thursday afternoon condemning the alleged threats.
“In addition to being forbidden by the Undergraduate Regulations, they are contrary to the deepest values on which an academic community is founded,” he said in the message.
Stewart said she was disappointed by the lack of strong language in the e-mail, in particular Brodhead’s closing “Best wishes.”
“There are not any known repercussions that the administration has put forth,” Stewart said. “Their response to these events has not been one of urgency. There needs to be some kind of accountability. He made no mention of the University working to rectify this.”
Shagran Hassan ’04, who attended the meeting, talked about the feeling of fear the messages invoked and criticized the administration for “a shallow gesture to pacify people.”
“[The meeting] was cathartic and educational,” he said. “It was all these groups sharing what had happened to them.”
Brodhead later said he was unhappy about the recent rash of hateful events and emphasized an individualized approach to dealing with them.
“Yale doesn’t like to try to micro-manage the moral lives of its students,” he said. “But when you start seeing things like this you ask yourselves, each of us, what can we all do.”
Clarence Webster LAW ’05, who attended the meeting Thursday night, said he was heartened by the quick response of students to the flier but was not surprised that such an incident would occur at Yale.
“In times of calamity or stress or war, people tend to polarize strongly about the war effort,” he said.
Stewart agreed, but said she also views the incident as the culmination of tension over a number of recent issues, including the Supreme Court’s current review of affirmative action policies and debate over controversial poet Amiri Baraka, who spoke at the Afro-American Cultural Center Feb. 24.
But Yale President Richard Levin said he felt the incidents were an anomaly in an otherwise uneventful time of war.
“The recent events as I understand them are very disturbing, but I have not seen evidence in a change of tone elsewhere,” he said. “I think the teach-ins have continued to be civilized and respectful and I would hope that all events on campus would be the same.”