Campus leadership has responsibility to change tone on race relations

To the Editor:

When you say, “Bigotry and racism on this campus should not be tolerated,” (“During vigil, don’t jump to conclusions” 11/14) I wonder whether you are serious. When administrators say, “racism and bigotry have no place here,” I wonder whether they are serious.

When Yale administrators believed there was no place for African-Americans at Yale, they were highly effective in acting on their beliefs. When they resolved not to tolerate Jews on this campus, it did not take a presidential advisory committee for them to execute that initiative.

Why can’t Yale have a firm disciplinary policy that makes it clear what we believe and what we will not allow? Perverts who abuse e-mail lists to spread hate should be expelled, and students who opt to perform oppressive stereotypes for Halloween ought not to be permitted do so here. Why not just require incoming freshman to accept that while they are here they will treat everyone else like human beings?

I do not deny that what I ask for will restrict speech and place limits on the discourse; those limits are precisely what I want. I believe that a gay man or a black woman ought to feel safe against physical or verbal intimidation, ought not to be the target of free speech. If we all really believe that, we ought to be willing to compromise other values we have and not merely to pay noncontroversial lip service to diversity and community.

That is why a rally and vigil are needed. I am not satisfied as long as people in positions of power attempt to mollify us with talk. I am not satisfied as long as it is common practice to dismiss hate as jokes or aberrations, to deny the threat to human dignity explicit in any display of hate. I am not satisfied, and I will not be satisfied, until we have put an end to hate once and for all.

I do not frankly care whether the cretin who writes a slur on a Yale wall is from our University or not. What concerns me is whether people with power and influence in our community use their power to effect change, or whether they are content with the status quo. I set before you then a choice: Will you stand for human dignity and safety, or is this editorial a dangerous precedent that you will stay on the sidelines?

Raphael Magarik

Nov. 14

Magarik is a sophomore in Morse College.

Comments

  • Anonymous

    "I do not deny that what I ask for will restrict speech and place limits on the discourse; those limits are precisely what I want.

    I believe this recommemndatin is standard operating procedure for the likes of Stalin and Kim Jong Il…be careful what you wish for..it most likely will not turnout the way you expect.

  • Anonymous

    DID the previous commenter REALLY make a comparison between the author's desire for discouraging hate speech by offering institutional recourse against offenders with Stalinist government? be careful what images you so cavalierly reference from history; someone might actually know what you are talking about (even if you dont) and quickly dismiss your entire thought.