Eleven months after several students entered the suite of Katherine Lo ’05 and left a message threatening Muslims on her door, Lo sent an e-mail to Yale President Richard Levin last Friday demanding a more extensive administrative response to this and other alleged racist incidents.
In the e-mail, which Sunny Kim ’06 sent to Yale undergraduates on Wednesday, Lo said Levin and other administrators did not respond appropriately to the intrusion — which was in response to an American flag hung upside down from Lo’s window to protest the ongoing war in Iraq — and have failed to address other hate crimes on campus.
Kim said by forwarding the e-mail, she intended to raise awareness about the issues Lo discussed in the letter.
In her e-mail, Lo said Yale neglects to address harassment, discrimination and assaults committed by students on campus due to racism, sexism, homophobia and classism. Lo said Yale “simultaneously cultivates” these behaviors by neglecting to address them.
Lo said she is not satisfied by the punishment given to the intruders by the University Executive Committee. The Executive Committee report outline for 2002-03 said “four freshmen who harassed a student who hung a flag upside down were placed on probation.”
“I know that those men who visited my room, and others who have raped, assaulted and harassed here on campus, will go on to live lives of privilege granted to them by their Yale degrees, anonymous and unburdened by the consequences of their actions,” Lo said in the e-mail.
Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky said though she has not seen the e-mail, “as an accusation, it is quite unfair.”
“[The administration] addressed [the intrusion] pretty aggressively at the time,” Klasky said. “There were several meetings in trying to ensure free speech and that no hate crimes exist, and President Levin took it very seriously at the time and continues to take it very seriously.”
Kim said she represents a recently organized group of students hoping to put issues of racial, sexual and classist tensions at the forefront of campus issues. In addition to the currently unnamed group, Kim said the student groups Yale Coalition for Peace, Students Transforming and Resisting Corporations, Students for Justice in Palestine, and the Student Legal Action Movement committed to rally behind Lo and her concerns Thursday. Lo’s letter refers to a meeting between Levin and the group Concerned Black Students, but CBS members said they were not aware Lo was sending the letter. The group has not taken an official stance on the letter.
Two weeks after last year’s intrusion, about 25 Yale students, including members of CBS, protested in Woodbridge Hall the administration’s response to allegations of violence against anti-war activists. The protestors demanded disciplinary investigations of the incidents including the intrusion to Lo’s suite and racist messages found on the Afro-American Cultural House door.
After the incident last spring, Lo moved out of her suite in Calhoun College, afraid for her safety, and received hate mail, she said in the e-mail.
Since Wednesday, Kim has received detailed letters and hate mail in response to Lo’s letter, she said.
Mariangela Sullivan ’06 said she read the e-mail and thinks the problems discussed in it should be addressed, but believes the emotions conveyed in the letter diluted its argument.
“Problems within the institution need to be talked about within an open forum and shouldn’t be avoided, but I don’t think that sending out a clearly bitter e-mail that openly bashed the [University] president is a good way to air those negative feelings,” Sullivan said.
The incident in Lo’s room occurred March 27, 2003.