Ten first-year Yale Arabic students visited the offices of University Provost Andrew Hamilton and President Richard Levin Thursday morning dressed in white to protest the departure of Arabic professor Bassam Frangieh.
Frangieh, who has been teaching at Yale for 12 years as a senior lecturer, announced last week that he has accepted a 10-year position at the University of Delaware, where he will be starting an Arabic Department.
Students convened outside Silliman at 9 a.m., all dressed in white to symbolize their future goal of bridging the gap between the United States and the Middle East through the use of the Arab language, said Eric Ciaramella ’08, one of the students who led the protest.
Ciaramella said the students carried 40 letters with them written by current and former Arabic students urging the University to try to keep Frangiem at Yale. Two students were admitted to Hamilton’s office, only to be told he was busy. They were asked to leave their contact information so Hamilton could arrange the meeting. No meeting has yet been arranged.
Juli Huang ’08, said students also visited Levin’s office, where they received a friendly greeting from his secretary, who informed them Levin was in a meeting. A few minutes later, he emerged from his office and accepted the letters.
Ciaramella said Frangieh was an extraordinary teacher and students who have taken his classes were all unhappy with his decision.
“We are really upset,” he said. “The administration needs to do something. They can’t turn their backs and let him go.”
Ciamarella said that Frangieh’s desire to focus on modern Arabic culture clashes with the department’s academic pursuits, which are primarily centered around the exploration of medieval culture. He also said Frangieh’s recent proposal to start a seminar using Arabic language to explore topics in the modern Arab world was not approved by the administration.
Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky said she was not aware of the letters. Levin was unavailable for comment Thursday night.