For hypocritical response, Salovey should resign office

A young woman created a piece of art. It was to fulfill the third component of her senior project for the art major at Yale University. For this project, she was granted approval by her advisor, by the Dean of Undergraduate Studies in the Art Department and therefore by Yale University — months ago.

It should be noted: at Yale University, publicists don’t grant approval for academic projects. This has, so far, been considered a decision better left to academics.

Last Thursday morning, in meeting with the administrators of Yale University, Aliza Shvarts, the artist, told Peter Salovey, the Dean of Yale College, Marichal Gentry, the Dean of Student Affairs and Director of Public Affairs Helaine Klasky that she had artificially inseminated herself in the course of creating her senior art project. In fact, the whole project depended upon being artificially inseminated: her academic object was to make the viewer acknowledge that in using the word “miscarriage” or “menstruation” to explain the cause of her bleeding and cramps, they were making an ideological choice, not naming a phenomenon that could be factually verified.

Several academics and many students thought that this was a worthwhile project. Of course, the questions that it raised — of ontology, normative functioning and semiotics — were the kind that interest academics.

When the project entered the public realm, it was at a disadvantage.

Thousands of people denounced the project, Aliza Shvarts and Yale University as evil. Yale’s publicists, who are paid to care about what those people think, made a decision after meeting with Aliza Shvarts last Thursday. They decided to lie. On Thursday afternoon, in their first press release, they called Aliza Shvarts’ project a “creative fiction,” claimed that she had never artificially inseminated herself, and asserted that if “these acts been real, they would have violated basic ethical standards and raised serious mental and physical health concerns.”

Later that night, Aliza Shvarts told the press that this was inaccurate.

In their second (and more desperate) statement, Yale’s publicists assured skeptics that “her denial is part of her performance,” and concluded, rather absurdly, by relaying their “disappointment that she would deliberately lie to the press in the name of art.”

None of this is surprising: It is the publicists’ job to get the University good press. They lied because the truth was getting Yale University bad press. Helaine Klasky ought to get a raise.

Peter Salovey, on the other hand, should be fired as the Dean of Yale College. Dean Salovey was instrumental in concocting the lie that the publicists told.

But he should not be fired because he is a liar. He should be fired because he is a hypocrite. In the pages of this newspaper, Dean Salovey “urged” the student body to read the Woodward Report, which, as he put it, “affirms the special responsibility for a university community to uphold its members’ rights to ‘think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable.’”

Throughout the year, Dean Salovey has defended the University’s limp reaction to racism, sexual harassment and anti-Semitism on free-speech grounds, and cited the Woodward Report — “one of the nation’s most respected documents on free expression” — as the official origin of Yale University’s commitment to free speech and to justify his own commitment to free speech in forming university policy.

According to the Woodward Report, students need freedom — “unfettered freedom” — if they are to “challenge the unchallengeable.” The role of the Dean of Yale College, by his own account, is to ensure that students of Yale University have that freedom while they are here.

Last Thursday, Dean Salovey should not have lied. He should known that there would be a student, in his time as dean, who would actually “challenge the unchallengable.” He could have felt proud that it was an academic work, rather than a Yale student’s drunken escapade, that required him to defend the freedom of expression that a university guarantees its students. Last Thursday, Dean Salovey should have calmly told everyone — the outraged parents, the horrified alumni, the scandalized high-school students and especially those whom threatened Aliza Shvarts with violence — that Shvarts’ exhibition would go up, that they should fight back with more speech. Last Thursday, Dean Salovey should have told Helaine Klasky that Aliza Shvarts’s art project was proof that the University was working, not something from which it could or should disassociate. Dean Salovey should have told the press, simply, to read the Woodward Report.

Last Thursday, Salovey himself should have re-read the Woodward Report. The document that he cites, quotes and hides behind so often says that we at Yale University must “take a chance, as the First Amendment takes a chance,” and “commit ourselves to the idea that the results of free expression are to the general benefit in the long run, however unpleasant they may appear at the time.”

But he did not. And it is not the reputation of the University, but the University’s integrity, and his own, that have been damaged.

Chase Olivarius-McAllister is a junior in Branford College. She is the former political-action coordinator of the Yale Women’s Center.


  • y09

    you didn't seem so into free speech when you tried to sue a bunch of frat guys for holding up a sign in public.

    check your standards here chase, and get a grip on reality. perhaps you are the hypocritical one.

  • Anonymous

    You know what, Chase? You're right. You should fire Salovey and everybody else on campus who doesn't agree with your and the Women's Center's point of view. In fact, you should re-educate all of them with hours and hours of Cultural and Women's Studies classes.

    Unfortunately, I'm about to graduate, so I won't be around for that. But, as someone who grew up in the most liberal neighborhood in the United States (the Upper West Side of Manhattan), has a mother who is divorced and raising a daughter by herself (both of whom I've extremely proud of), I have to say I am TOTALLY DISGUSTED and ashamed by your words and the words of the Women's Center.

    There has been an unbelievable shift in culture at Yale in the four years I've been here, particularly this last one. Everyone who dares to act in a way that runs contrary to your value system runs the risk of being told that he or she is sexist, misogynist, racist, homophobic, anti-environment, etc. In your taking issue with others, you have emerged as far more serious a stifler of free speech than anyone you accuse of this or that transgression.

    The pendulum has swung this far. But, with your ludicrous support for actions that warrant precisely the opposite, at some point yours and the Women's Center's luck is going to run out, and your project of steamrolling everyone who doesn't agree with you will come to an end.

    I just hope you don't ruin the university in the process.

  • Anonymous

    A few points:
    1) For Salovey to say he's appalled by the work in no way violates Schvarts' right to free speech, nor does the University's decision not to hang the work. As I understand it, Salovey's being consistent with what's required of him: Schvarts got approval and so she's getting credit for the work, but Salovey sure as hell doesn't have to hang it up in the art gallery. Given the extremely serious public safety concerns, and out of fairness to the other art majors who will have an extremely difficult time displaying the projects they've worked so hard on all semester, it seems right and fair for Salovey to consider not displaying the work. Salovey hasn't condemned Schvarts' right to free speech, he's merely making a decision that's directly related to the public safety of undergraduates. Schvarts isn't being academically disciplined for what she did, the University's just choosing not to hang it on the fridge. This is consistent with Salovey's defense of free speech in the other incidents this year even as he unequivocally condemned the perpetrators. We wouldn't expect him to hang their work in the gallery either.

    2) Schvarts undertook a plethora of health risks engaging in this project, it would be understandable if the University wanted to discourage future students from endangering their health by withholding its approval of such stunts in future.

    3) Salovey would be guilty of damaging the University's integrity if he lied about the nature of Schvarts' project. I'm not totally convinced that either side is telling the whole truth (the University does have a strong motive to lie here, but then again Schvarts clearly tried to stir up as much publicity as possible and frankly I don't put anything past her).

    4) The University protects all students' right to freedom of expression. This does not mean that it needs to award them academic credit or give them gallery space. If I write a senior thesis on the moral inferiority of some race, the University would be justified in failing me for the course and not publishing my piece. Since Schvarts got academic approval, she should get academic credit, but that's because we believe that the professors (not the publicists) should decide what has academic merit. That said, professors don't get to decide what the Yale University Press publishes, and the administrators certainly can have a say on what goes up in Yale galleries.

  • The disgrace continues

    "He could have felt proud that it was an academic work, rather than a Yale student's drunken escapade, that required him to defend the freedom of expression that a university guarantees its students."

    Don't you get it? The point is, this is NOT an "academic work". In fact, this is MORE disgraceful than a "student's drunken escapade", because it was done sober.

    This is no more "art" than a display of the bodily remains of Holocaust victims would be. It's insensitive. It's wrong. It shows that Shvarts has some serious problems, and that she has no sense of right and wrong.

    You claim it's "academic"-- but you have no idea what that means. It's a good thing for Yale that you're not the one who defines "academic", because then our University would have gone the way of the dinosaurs a long time ago.

    Shvarts' "art work" is indefensible. It is barbaric, cruel, and lacks any shred of morality. Yet you try not only to defend it, but to turn the blame on the administration. Pathetic!

  • Anonymous

    Leave it to Chase to leave all good sense behind in responding to a controversy like this. Is there any evidence whatsoever to support her assertion that it was the university and not Shvarts that lied here? Nope - she just accepts Shvarts' statement wholesale and assumes the university must be lying. I guess she figured it suited her purposes to do so.

    As for me, I find it more likely that one crazy student lied about her crazy art project than to believe that three top university administrators got together and concocted the conspiracy Chase alleges. But I'm also honest enough to admit that I don't really know what was said in that room, and neither does anyone else save the four people who were there.

    As for Salovey, bravo. We need more academics like him who are able to make reasoned distinctions about what is appropriate for a university to approve, in order to protect us from Chase, Aliza, and others who cannot.

  • Fatima

    "…her academic object was to make the viewer acknowledge that in using the word “miscarriage” or “menstruation” to explain the cause of her bleeding and cramps, they were making an ideological choice, not naming a phenomenon that could be factually verified.

    Several academics and many students thought that this was a worthwhile project. Of course, the questions that it raised — of ontology, normative functioning and semiotics — were the kind that interest academics. "

    Chase, normally menstruation and miscarriage are certainly distinguishable phenomena. They were not so in this case only by careful artificial design. (Actually the word abortion should be used here, since Aliza induced her, if any, abortions. Miscarriages are spontaneous abortions.) Aliza did not use pregnancy tests to determine the results of her inseminations, and she ingested her "herbal abortifacients" on the 28th day of her monthly cycle, purposefully coinciding with her period. The chances of menstruation and a real abortion becoming indistinct naturally are pretty rare. What questions of ontology and semiotics was Aliza raising? What intellectually stimulating conclusion was she trying to help us reach, what boorish traditions was she trying to challenge? That the uterus is not simply meant for birthing a child? How does her project show us what else it's for? Wow, my uterus is also handy for artificial insemination, cramps and expelling blood every month? I don't recall any academic voices rising in support of Aliza. Where is Pia Lindman now? If anything, there has only been academic criticism, condemnation and ridicule.

    This isn't about free speech. Aliza wrote her column, but she didn't manage to answer any of the questions I had for her. If she cannot show me a valid intellectual reason for such a grotesque and hurtful display, then I am allowed to condemn it, and ask that Yale not support her. Yale is my university as much as it is hers. She can find a different sponsor elsewhere, where intellectual standards are more lax.

    Also, please don't cite your former position with the Women's Center in your by-line. It can be misleading, because you're only speaking for yourself.

  • to make an obvious point

    when the icon speaks, everybody listens.

    too bad for salovey. i give him one week.

  • Captain Obvious

    Freedom of speech is not freedom of action. It is not freedom from the consequences of your actions.

    If Yale is "lying," they may be doing it to protect Aliza's life. Check you priorities.

  • Hieronymus

    This has become a rather high-stakes episode.

    If Shvarts is telling the truth, then Chase is correct (i.e., Salovey is a "liar" and should be fired) and the reprimand of faculty should "go down on [their] permanent record,] a life-long, career-staining low.

    However, if Shvarts is lying, then she--and Chase--should be reprimanded and, indeed, sued. Chase, in particular (if Shvarts is lying) has WRITTEN--as a NEWS piece:

    "Yale’s publicists,… decided to lie … Peter Salovey, Dean of Yale College was instrumental in concocting the lie that the publicists told… he is a liar."

    When Chase reports AS FACT (and NAMING NAMES):

    "Last Thursday morning, in meeting with the administrators of Yale University, Aliza Shvarts, the artist, told Peter Salovey, the Dean of Yale College, Marichal Gentry, the Dean of Student Affairs, and two publicity officers, including Director of Public Affairs Helaine Klasky, that she had artificially inseminated herself in the course of creating her senior art project. In fact, the whole project depended upon being artificially inseminated."

    I find the university position much more believable--because any normal human would recoil in horror, on both a human level and a corporate (i.e., headline-risk) level. I simply CANNOT believe that senior university personnel are either inhuman monsters or simply that stupid. If my view is proven wrong then, by all means, prosecute away; however, if my view is correct, then, again, prosecute away--only this time, aim the lawsuits at the now-LIBELOUS Chase O. and the facilitator, Aliza Shvarts.

    [As an aside, at the Seder last week, we devoted Kos Miriam to Aliza--not as inspiration per se, but as a woman in dire need of help and guidance.]

  • anon

    #6 - op/ed authors generally don't write their own bylines.

  • 09

    Please be more specific about how you know that the University, not Shvarts, is lying. The fact alone that "academics" signed off on it strongly suggests that Shvarts had told them that it was fiction.

    It's a shame that the meetings in which Shvarts confided that her project was a fiction were not recorded.

    It's becoming increasingly clear that she either lied to university officials when she told them it was fiction (and did actually inseminate herself) or is lying now in telling us that she did.

  • FMF

    Finally, an opinion on this controversy that doesn't make me ashamed to be a student here.

  • Alum0507

    To #1:
    In the author's defense, she does address the difference between the boldness of Shvarts' art project and the misogny of those drunken frat guys. The former had a (academic) point while the latter did not. Although they are both covered by free speech, one is inherently more valuable than the other. Salovey, however, is NOT a hypocrite. Although Shvarts' project is indeed interesting, it also poses a physical threat to herself, and that is where our administration must draw the line. If she were somehow able to get in touch with other women who had had miscarriages, this whole things would be a non-issue. But she did it to herself, intentionally, and THAT is the problem.

  • Anonymous

    "The disgrace continues…"?

    Who are these people? Why do they keep talking when they don't know what they're talking about? Why are they up at 5 in the morning? Why are they picking on this girl they don't know and this art piece they've never seen?

    Aliza, i got your back

  • Anonymous

    Chase, please stop. I'm not sure the cliche "shooting oneself in the foot" is appropriate here. I think you've already lost both feet and are now moving onto the kneecaps.

    Zeta Psi really screwed up with their sign. A more accurate version would have read "We Love Yale Idiots."

  • Hieronymus

    So, who was first of what is sometimes referred to as the "Shadee Malaklou" brand of feministe (also referred to as feminasty)? That is, a particularly vulgar and debasing view of womanhood that is somehow able to juggle the cognitively dissonant position of "woman as dirty [slur] = good" (and all within the bounds of free speech, unless that free speech is exercised by someone not Of The Party)?

    Really, I say again: read Ayn Rand's semiautobiographical novel We The Living--no, NOT for its "philosophy," but for its chronicle of the rise of the Brownshirts. It is frighteningly-FRIGHTENINGLY-similar to what is happening on today's college campuses.

  • Anonymous

    aliza = galileo
    salovey = grand inquisitioner

  • The Lorax

    Let me get this straight, you actually think the whole insemination thing is real and Yale can't and shouldn't call it bogus? Of course it is bogus. It is performance art. It is stimulating an experience and dialogue and forcing people to react. I suppose that makes it art. But, when it comes down to the actual actions, we're just talking about playing around with menstrual blood and perhaps even some actual semen if she really did get someone to produce for her. Woop-dee-do. Last time I checked, neither is sacred. We don't know which parts of the actual story are true. Squiting stuff in your body or taking herbs seems pretty stupid, so I hope she didn't do that part, but even if she did, it is just furtherance of the charade. Her art project is more akin to mud pies by children experimenting with their maturing bodies than anything else.

    That said, menstruation can be ambiguous when you're sexually active. There is a lot of philosophy and psychology shaping the perspective you receive it at any given point in your life. That is a valuable point to make.

    She's brought a tidal wave of trouble to Yale and the administrators are navigating it as best they can. Yale doesn't have to offer her a public stage.

  • 08

    I don't really understand how it could be defended for its academic merits. It seems to me to do nothing to further debates in ontology, teleology, or semiotics. I am not sure how art could.

  • @ the WC Trolls

    Looks like WC members are anonymously posting to defend Chase… I don't know who else would right now. Just shows how out of touch they are.

  • Anonymous

    Aliza can have all the freedom of speech she wants. That doesn't mean the university has to facilitate it. Especially if it's blood, in which case it is a public health risk.

    Do people really think Yale not putting your blood on display violates free speech? The right to free speech does not extend to having that free speech put on display or listened to.

  • Anonymous

    I have lost all respect the the Yale Administration -- they have absolutely no integrity, and I find it appalling that they are so quick to run away when the slightest bit of controversy comes up.

    Chase M-O should be commended for this op-ed. It hits the nail on the head. Well done.

  • sm08

    her right to free speech ends where my right to avoid biohazards begins

  • Anonymous

    Either you've completely lost your mind, Chase, or you're in on this little stunt. I really hope it's the latter.

  • Rob

    Thanks for covering this. Some thoughts:

    Contemporary art continually expands the boundary between art and not-art. The boundaries are different at any given time for an institution, a gallery, or an artist exhibiting or performing independently. There are no absolutes, and continual social controversy, hopefully productive, around those boundaries.

    Personally, I believe it aesthetically weak to rely on socially overcharged material in art. Some of the works of noted artist Alfredo Jaar fall into this category. However some of his other work I find stunning. Of course, plenty of artists would disagree with me.

    Artists increasingly will have the capability to develop biological art including synthetic life. I hope artists can develop a sense of ethics around their art making practice. The rest of American society, as individuals, in professions, in business and in institutions seems to be lacking it lately.

    The University of Washington's Henry Art Gallery developed guidelines for exhibitions in collaboration with the biohazards department, possibly the bioethics committee too, for the Gene(sis) exhibition in 2002. As a result, some biological materials could not be exhibited.

    An interesting question is the future career arc of the artist. What is her next work? Marina Abramović is an example of an artist with an edgy early career who sustained it. The artist might benefit from better advice in this area.

  • Anonymous

    Next week on Springer - The sperm donors will come on the show.

  • Class of 1987

    #3 states it well.
    Whether it is freedom of speech or not, isn't the ultimate question.

    None of us know who is lying, except the people involved, Aliza and the administrators/faculty she spoke to.

    I am unfamiliar with the Dean in question but I doubt he is the only one responsible for this decision, which I am in favor of.

    I find that it is very suspicious that the faculty in the art department NEVER came to this student's defense. It seems to me that in all likelihood, the art department was lax in their supervision and approval of this project. Maybe the faculty signed off on it 9 months ago and it was not what it is today--and they did not have meetings with Aliza or check up on her. When I was an undergrad I met with my advisor periodically and he gave suggestions and comments and reviewed my work. I did not question his criticisms as violating my "freedom of speech."

    Now that the cat is out of the bag and this project has the whole cyber world involved the university has to deal with it and its repercussions. Had it never appeared on the internet probably this project would have gone unnoticed, and Aliza would have passed and graduated, with no one the wiser. Perhaps she would have exhibited her project and everyone would have assumed it was fake blood and this was just another mediocre project.

    I hope that the university will take proper measures to investigate what is going on in the undergraduate art major. This project, regardless of whether it is lies or truth, is not up to the standards of a senior project at Yale, at least not of those when I was there. I was not an Art major but I did take a modern art class at Yale and I and my classmates did more in our projects over the course of the semester than this woman did for an entire year. Our professor was also a working artist and very serious about the work we did and her own work. We were taught various techniques and used many different forms of media to make our projects and had many field trips to galleries and workshops. She was a bit "out there" I thought, but we were never pushed to engage in certain directions for shock value or to create offensive work.

    This was the culmination of Aliza's work and this is what she has to show for her years as a major?

  • A Yalie said it best

    You know, feminism's main problem for the last twenty years has been that it is incapable of appreciating art, okay? There is no aesthetics in feminism. All there is, is a social agenda. Art is made a servant to a prefab social agenda. So what I'm doing is allowing feminism to take aesthetics into it, and also psychology.

    -Camille Paglia

  • 08

    This is also a stupid article. I'm so grateful for Dean Salovey's statement. Thank God! Finally some sense.

  • poster #5

    Hey #10 ("Mike") (and others): What evidence do you have that makes it so "blindingly obvious" that the university lied? If you have some, I'd love to hear it. If all you've got is innuendo, then your condemnation is meaningless and you should be a little more humble in presenting your side.

  • long live salovey

    It's a shame that liberalism has rotted so many minds that Yale students can no longer demonstrate ordinary sound judgment. The theory of a conspiracy is based on the assumption that art professors approved this project, and therefore the University now has to lie about it. Has it occurred to anyone that these Professors were told that this WAS all a sham, and that Miss "My uterus is for ridiculous crap not for bearing children" lied after the fact to get more attention (notice how quiet the Professors are being). Obviously if she wanted to do this, she realized she needed to lie to Yale, and when it was done, and she got credit, she could claim whatever she wanted to. It is perfectly possible that she lied to her advisor, actually did this, then lied to Salovey, and then continued to publicly claim she actually did this. Performance art is a bunch of nonsense anyway, so this may be part of some commentary on the relationship of society to lies and disgusting pinko self-indulgence. It's too bad we cannot just expel her, fire her advisor, and put a little plaque in Woolsey for the lives tragically sacrificed in the sacrament of abortion. As things are, the once proud name of Yale will be repeatedly dragged through the mud by people without talent who desperately need attention.

  • Anonymous

    Freedom of speech is not freedom of action, especially when one is conducting an action that the university could be potentially held liable for.

    Chase, universities have been sued in the past for failing to prevent student suicides. Shvarts was engaged in a potentially dangerous project without medical supervision. If Shvarts had required hospitalization or, taken to an extreme, died from complications owing to her performing these procedures, her advisor's approval meant that Shvarts' parents could easily have taken Yale to the courts and won.

    If she wants to do this in her own time, I say let her, and let her bear the responsibility for her actions. While she's a student at Yale, however, she's not technically full responsible for her actions, and that is why Salovey has every right to step in.

    If Salovey didn't step in, then I'd start to question the priorities of this university.

    No art is worth the potential death of the artist.

  • I heart Chase

    Yale hasn't recieved bad press because Aliza endangered her "mental and physical health." I'm not sure how much Yale cares that Aliza endangered her mental and physical health. Kids at Yale damage their mental and physical health all the time.

    It's the first part of Yale's statement that's important. Aliza's art "violated basic ethical standards."

    Who decided these ethical standards? And why didn't Zeta Psi brothers harassing a women's center board member at her place of work violate ethical standards?

    That kind of vague and dogmatic moralizing is the scariest thing to come out of Yale since George W. Bush.

  • Anonymous

    first, how do you know that this wasn't a hoax? you don't. the university probably has better knowledge than you, because they have an interested in the mental health of their students.

    second, you must be kidding about dean salovey resigning. this is a man of high ethical standards and one of the most distinguished academics in the world. do you really think he should step down over the ridiculous actions of a disturbed students who wants to "shock the world?" give. me. a. break.

  • Wow

    To be very honest, this is the only public editorial I have read in *favor* of Aliza Shvarts' actions. While I'm unsure exactly how the author concludes that "many students thought that this was a worthwhile project," the fact is that even the national leadership of NARAL came out against what Shvarts did, unequivocally (and that takes some doing).

    Our best assumption, therefore, is that former senior members of the Womens' Center are condemning administrators for acting according to Yale policy (Shvarts, by all accounts, never received proper approval for a project that tested human subjects, a glaring -- and deeply punishable -- offense per university regulations) because they are trying to extort more money from the university (has anyone forgotten about that? since Yale opened its wallet, suddenly all went silent at Durfee's about the "January incident" ;-) )

  • Old Blue '73

    All I know about this is what I have read in the YDN, and I have read everything on this site related to this project.

    It looks to me that Salovey and School of Art Dean Robert Storr have acted completely appropriately.

    Chase describes events and statements at a meeting she did apparently did not attend and does not attribute her report of the meeting to any source. The only hint we have of support for her interpretation is that Schvarts said the university's statements were "inaccurate". Well, there is a lot of weasel room in the term "inaccurate".

    Because Shvarts apparently got her advisor's blessing, she should not be academically disciplined (unless, of course, she lied to her advisor about what she was doing). But as others have said, the university has no obligation to display her work under any circumstances. It only has the obligation to give her academic credit for completing a project for which she obtained approval in the proper manner.

    If the approval was improvidently granted, the discipline should be placed upon the faculty approvers, not the student. That appears to have occurred, according to today's YDN updated article.

  • Anonymous


    If Chase weren't the only person who spoke out publicly, articulately and consistently on these issues, you might not have to worry about a cult of personality. She's a lone prophet at the moment because no one else is saying this.

  • K

    Matters like these make me want to raise kids outside the U.S.
    I think Salovey made a sound decision in not letting her exhibit this "art". Aliza wanted shock value, well she got it just look at us here.
    I am pro-choice (when the pregnancy is unplanned or a result of bad circumstances) not pre-calculated abortion murder. She planned this people, to get pregnant then kill whatever seed was planted in her. She is sick and should not be allowed to this exhibition. If she is allowed then what else are we willing to tolarate?

  • Amused

    No doubt you will agree that "We love Yale sluts" was an insightful piece of performance art which challenged the unchallengeable. To the barricades!

  • Thank you Chase

    I agree with this article 100%. And THANK YOU ALIZA for managing to find a way to "challenge the unchallengeable." And do so in a way that is provocative and brilliant.

  • Yale '10

    There are two prominent unrelated flaws in Oliverius-McAllister's argument. They may both have been addressed above; I didn't read all the comments.

    1. Her claim that Salovey lied is unsubstantiated. It probably can't be proven either way, though personally I'm not apt to believe Schvatz over Dean Salovey. She shouldn't base her argument off of something that can't be verified.

    2. There's a distinction between the University tolerating an act of free speech and endorsing it. Oliverius-McAllister claims that Salovey justified the University's "limp reaction" to incidents of hate speech earlier this year by citing the Woodward Report, which (from my understanding) emphasizes the importance of free speech and dialogue on campus. A refusal to show Schvartz's project would not be an abridgment of her speech, it would merely be the University withholding its endorsement from such speech.

    Yale could have done this at any point (advisors and DUS's are not required to approve every senior thesis proposal), and Salovey, as Dean of Yale College, has every right and obligation to do this. Though its probably too late to not give Schvartz credit for her project, the University can still refuse to endorse a senior thesis by putting it on display in University space.

    The fact that Schvartz's advisor and the DUS liked the project doesn't change this. The Art Department doesn't act independently; it functions as part of Yale College and is subordinate to it.

    Salovey, therefore, should not resign his office. Just as Schvartz engaged her reproductive rights and rights to free speech to carry out and publicize her project (however morally dubious that project might be), so Salovey, as a representative of Yale College, is acting on the College's right to not endorse such a project -- the College's right to free speech.


    The Woodward Report, as Oliverius-McAllister stresses, does place freedom of expression as the paramount value that a university can hold. But it doesn't place freedom of expression as the only value. The paragraph below comes from the Woodward Report.

    "In addition to the university's primary obligation to protect free expression there are also ethical responsibilities assumed by each member of the university community, along with the right to enjoy free expression. Though these are much more difficult to state clearly, they are of great importance. If freedom of expression is to serve its purpose and thus the purpose of the university, it should seek to enhance understanding. Shock, hurt, and anger are not consequences to be weighed lightly… It may sometimes be necessary in a university for civility and mutual respect to be superseded by the need to guarantee free expression."

    Note that in the last sentence quoted above that the need for free speech "sometimes" supersedes one's obligation to civility. This is far from saying that it should always be tolerated, let alone implicitly endorsed, by a University. It's not hard to imagine the University refusing to approve a senior thesis that, say, asserted (as someone has mentioned above) "the moral inferiority of some race." Yale's decision to withhold its approval from Schvartz's project is hardly any different.

    Link to a Yale College page about the Woodward Report, with a link to the report itself:

  • Dear Chase

    Please stop posting comments in acclamation of yourself. It gets old after a while.

  • Yale boyfriend of a woman who goes to a women'

    I'm a Yale student whose girlfriend goes to a women's college. (A seven sister's school, for those of you who knows what that means.) She had the following to say:

    "If this woman was at one point involved with the Women's Center… God I can't imagine how corrupt your Women's Center is!"

    "Maybe she herself doesn't know the difference between right and wrong. Who is she to have a position in the Woman's Center??"

    "You'd think after working at the Woman's Center, she'd grasp some sense of ethical responsibility. Clearly she hasn't, if she's backing [Aliza]. She's a disgrace…."

    Quotes, brought to your courtesy of a REAL WOMAN. You're alienating the people you claim to speak for, Chase. You're an absolute disgrace. One step forward [enter Chase and Aliza], five hundred steps back. What a great day for feminism!

  • Garlic

    Salovey won't resign, the Salovey youth won't allow it.

  • yes!

    this is the strongest opinion piece i have seen a yale student produce. sound, smart, and masterfully written. i am convinced that Salovey should be fired and that this is the best way to handle the so-called "abortion crisis."

  • Stop praising your own article

    Stop praising your own article, or getting your friends to flood it with comments. It's lame. Your arguments follow no sound progression, but instead just say "Salovey lied" over and over again. That doesn't make it true. And so what? Even if he did, that's no reason to resign.

    Aliza, AND Chase-O should be expelled… or never admitted in the first place. And Salovey should get a medal.

  • Anonymous

    This piece is total trash.

  • Anonymous

    Is anyone else thinking that Yale never should have gone co-ed? Aliza? Chase? Just two more problems we wouldn't have.

  • lucky number strikes

    this is obviously a great piece. salovey is toast. it is embarassing for the two varsity team athletes who are obsessed with chase that they have to follow her from juicycampus to the yaledailynews message boards. chase, well done.

    from a

  • yale 2010

    All the members of the YWC I know cringed when they discussed this piece. They tried to distance themselves from Chase. She's a "nice girl" or an "interesting character".

    Make no mistake, all the posts up here are by trolls, crazies, or Chase herself.

  • what?!

    #48. that was completely inappropriate. unless that was irony or parody.

    oh wait, so was aliza's senior project…

  • ES06

    #13 said: "In the author's defense, she does address the difference between the boldness of Shvarts' art project and the misogny of those drunken frat guys. The former had a (academic) point while the latter did not. Although they are both covered by free speech, one is inherently more valuable than the other."

    No way. You can't pick and choose like that. Chase's whole point is that, according to Salovey, the unthinkable should be defended. So you can't laud one and sue over the other.

    The funny thing about enrolling at Yale was that you did so conditionally upon following certain rules. These rules included not harming yourself and not putting others in harm. (Read the regulations some time!)

    Shvarts certainly harmed herself by taking herbal abortifacients, and she threatened to harm or harmed others (depending on how you view embryos and the presence of a biohazard in an art studio).

    Salovey's statements have indicated that he can't condone Shvarts' violation of Yale regulations. If he let one person do it but not others, that would be-- say it with me-- hypocritical.

  • Here's to you, Chase!

    Right on, Chase! She hits the nail so hard on the head… I just don't think you could hit it any harder. Oh dear Lord, thank you for sending Chase Olivarius-McAllister to cleanse us for our sins! In fact, I'm thinking of renouncing my patriarchical sky-god because I (er.. I mean "you"), Chase, are the real second coming! Finally, an icon enlightened Yale students can really get behind.

    Give Chase Salovey's job… with a raise!

  • Anonymous

    I have a word for #50, who says, "All the members of the YWC I know cringed when they discussed this piece. They tried to distance themselves from Chase. She's a 'nice girl' or an 'interesting character.'"

    This comes as surprise, as everyone at the YWC whom I know have spoken admiringly, and sometimes gratefully, when discussing this piece. And while Chase is indeed "nice" and "interesting," she is also-- I couldn't say it better than Dara-- a lone prophet on this issue.

    As for the claim that "all the posts up here are by trolls, crazies, or Chase herself"-- I would suggest that #50 consider the despicable cowardice of posting anonymously about a writer brave enough to have taken responsibility for her thoughts. Chase isn't afraid to publish, under her own name, an opinion that she knew wouldn't be popular, but which she found to be true. #50, what are you afraid of?

  • To be fair

    I support Aliza's art project, and I believe the administration should have supported her as well. But why is it that every time someone makes a decision with which we disagree, we call for that person's job?

    I love the audacity. Oh no! An accomplished university researcher, professor, and administrator is being criticized in the student newspaper because he gave a safe, predictable response to a high profile event. He'll never work in this town again!

    Get over yourself already, Chase.

  • Conway

    Everyone has been talking about this piece. Given the University's decision to shut Aliza's exhibition down, I am appalled at Salovey's lack of commitment to freedom of speech. Salovey really should be fired. We can't be students at a University if the University refuses to defend us when our work is actually controversial.

    I think Levin should hire Chase to replace him.

  • Anonymous

    The author of this piece should be commended for her bravery in calling the university out for their hypocrisy. Chase writes elegantly and with moral conviction. I am proud to go to a school with a woman like Chase O-M who has the ovaries to stand up for what is right.

  • Mahdi Sabbagh

    To dissagree with Chase is one thing… but to call her names, criticise her as a person, and generalise in terms of the YWC is unnacceptable. This thread has turned from an important topic to simple bigotry.
    Some Yale students tend to forget what freedom of speech is about and expect other Yalies to conventionalize themselves accordingly…. Unfortunately for them, this is not the case. The authors of some of these posts should be ashamed.

  • anon

    Silencing Aliza Shvarts is an act of censorship. If Dean Salovey silences Aliza Shvarts he is demonstrating that contrary ideas are not allowed at Yale. According to Salovey’s reaction to Aliza, it seems only opinions and ideas that fit comfortably within the liberal, politically-correct framework are acceptable at this university. If that is the case, I am ashamed to be a student here.

  • @Mahdi Sabbagh

    Do you have a similar problem with calling Dean Salovey names, criticizing him as a person, and generalizing in terms of Yale University?

  • Anonymous

    Suddenly, #59 realizes what every conservative on campus has known since they got here.

  • fascinating

    chase is david

    salovey is goliath

    she has given him a bloody nose and as he tries to slow the flow of blood and ramples on free speech all the onlookers can do it marvel at how the mighty are fallen

  • David BK07

    I recall that when I was a Yale student, not so long ago, our motto translated to "Light and Truth." In that spirit, I find it despicable that Elis would post anonymous ad hominem (ad feminam?) attacks in response to an argument made in good faith. It speaks ill of our students that they would want to add their voice to a discussion but not be courageous enough to take the responsibility of standing by their convictions.

    The point of the art project was to provoke, yes, but it was to provoke inquiry and debate. I am at something of a remove, and unlike the alum from 1987 I haven't read all the articles on the site dealing with this issue, but it seems to me that calling for Salovey's resignation is a bit much, given the concerns over public and personal health for which the Dean is accountable. But it is certainly fair to call him to task for hypocrisy, since "challenging the unchallengeable" is unquestionably what Ms. Shvartz attempted to do, and supporting that effort is something that the Dean is supposed to do, and do with more than just words. As I recall, the media are supposed to hold public figures accountable for what they do and say. And an op-ed is a venue for… opinions, which every individual in a functioning free society is entitled to express without intimidation.

    Finally, the great American story is of perseverance in the face of failure, notwithstanding the experience of the archetypal Yale student, who expects that every effort is crowned with glory. I do not personally agree with everything in the art project and in this article, but both creations were products of courageous and ambitious, if evidently rash, minds, and both young women have the strength and integrity to stand by their opinions and their arguments with their heads held high and their names public for the world to see.

  • congrats

    nobody can stop talking about this column. i am an art major and it is almost 5 am but i have just overheard two conversations about it while finishing up my work in green hall. salovey has to answer for this. it really is incredibly dissappointing that the university didn't defend aliza.

  • @ES06

    #52 says that when students enter yale they are "subject to certain rules and regulations."

    So is the university. Admission is a contract between you, the student, and the University. Salovey is reneging on contract: aliza fulfilled all of the requirements for her graduation and went through YALE'S OWN PROCESS to get approval for her senior project.

    By not letting Aliza exhibit her senior project, get a crit, and potentially denying her a diploma, Yale has given her grounds for a lawsuit.

  • candleholder

    Shouldn't we just follow precedent and have another vigil or something? How is this different than graffiti?

  • Anonymous

    this op-ed was spectacular. and it practically wrote today's paper. nice.

  • Sam

    Chase makes a good point. The issue she raises in her op-ed isn't about
    attacking or defending Aliza's senior project, which is an artistic (and, yes,
    political) piece. The issue is the administration's pattern of failing to back up its students against external pressure. Yale caved with Hashemi and Yale's caving again, this time by impeding on the jurisdiction of the art department and calling a student a liar without the evidence to back up its claim. Dean Salovey is in a difficult situation having to produce an administrative response, but it's fully within Chase's rights as a student to criticize him for his irresponsibility towards the student body he's supposed to represent. The issue is administrative cowardice and Chase expressed it very well.

  • levin

    you have got to love this girl's mind.

    i have probably re-read this column four times in the last day. this is the only opinion that i didn't see coming and as the week progresses i am more and more impressed with it. Style, grace, and no apologies.

    great work.

  • marc

    Is anyone actually surprised that a member of the Yale administration would lie or deny free academic expression? Yale is one of the most conservative campuses I've (regretfully) been exposed to. Please help me rinse of the stink of neo-conservatism.

  • tim

    i am totally persuaded. salovey should be fired.

    this school is embarassing.

  • Anonymous

    "Throughout the year, Dean Salovey has defended the University’s limp reaction to racism, sexual harassment and anti-Semitism on free-speech grounds."

    ANYONE could have written a scathing op-ed about how the university deals with free speech. In fact, people have before, such as in cases involving student publications and race. While there are intrinsic differences between this case and previous ones (especially the health issue, which does violate the University's regulations regarding harming oneself, among others), there are still grounds for any number of groups or individuals to say to Dean Salovey and the rest of the administration that at the very least, you can't choose what you defend as free speech. You can't call incident X unethical and ban it, while calling incident Y a mere expression of one's rights. Or if you are going to, Dean Salovey, you had better have a good reason, else you risk disillusioning students with transient and almost subjective responses.

    The speed with which comments rush to dismiss and criticise this work simply because it is written by a woman, self-described feminist or not, is disgusting, and more of a hazard to everyone else than blood in a cup.

    Criticise the piece, challenge the ideas presented in it. Offer counter-arguments. Contribute. Don't waste anyone's time bashing either the author or the entire feminist movement under the cowardly cloak of anonymity.

  • Robert

    This whole thing makes me so glad I turned down Yale for Emory.

  • Anonymous

    Ah, so true "Lux et Veritas"
    Doesn't it bother you that Ms. Schvarts whole convoluted argument rests on a Lie (It is becoming increasingly clear she did not impregnate herself) and depends for its propagation that the University obscure the fact that it is a lie (excuse me, "creating her own myth")?

  • mike m

    I cannot believe how influential this op-ed has been. Whereas everyone was talking about Aliza and the piece and whether it was horrible or plain evil over the weekend, since we all read it on monday everyone has been talking about Salovey, the administration, and their hypocrisy.

    Even more amazing is that every single person in my (octet) suite agrees with the op-ed and its author, Chase Olivarius-McAllister, even though they are Republicans and as one of them put it, have "historically considered Chase a kind of blond feminist anti-Christ."

    I do think that the Administration lied, but I also, like Chase, think that that is beside the point. The question is whether or not the Administration can be taken seriously now that they have cancelled Aliza's show and are talking about expelling her.

    I don't know the answer to that question. Students forget most things, but I feel like this event is going to be seared into our memory for many years. What we are going to remember is that the University failed to support a student and her right to think and express controversial thoughts.

  • green hall

    this is the single best editorial that i have seen all year.

    here is why:

    1) the argument is evident.

    2) the argument is convincing.

    3) the argument is actually important.

    4) the argument is unfraid of telling an inexpedient truth.

    5) the argument is based on fact.

    6) the argument is well written.

    if the "pro-life" movement can say this about a column it agrees with, it should speak up.

  • spencer

    terrific article.

    but what would have happened if he did?

  • laura

    if salovey had supported Aliza, i could take him seriously as pro-vost.

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