A small group of students staged a quiet sit-in at the “Studies in Grand Strategy” seminar Monday afternoon, protesting the appointment of John Negroponte ’60 to a teaching post at Yale beginning next fall.
Wearing business attire, the five protesters, all undergraduates, carried signs decrying Negroponte’s alleged cover-up of human rights abuses by the Honduran military while he was a ambassador to Honduras in the early 1980s.
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“We came to expose … the existence of an elephant in the room,” the group’s unofficial leader, Fernanda Lopez ’10, said, “and to protest Negroponte as a symbol of historical revisionism.”
Negroponte — who has also served as ambassador to the United Nations, ambassador to Iraq, director of national intelligence and deputy secretary of state — recently secured a three-year appointment as the Brady-Johnson distinguished senior research fellow in grand strategy and lecturer in international affairs. He will arrive on campus July 1.
As students in the seminar entered the Hall of Graduate Studies classroom Monday afternoon, the protestors filed in one by one and made their way toward the back of the classroom, where they sat in silence, holding posters and signs in front of them.
Asked by “Grand Strategy” lecturer Paul Solman to introduce themselves, they remained silent but passed out a single handout listing their grievances. Only Lopez addressed the students, reading the signs aloud.
One poster, whose heading read “Elephant in the Room,” displayed copies of CIA documents describing torture techniques used in Latin America during Negroponte’s tenure as ambassador to Honduras. Others carried images of Negroponte and a protest in Latin America, topped with the heading “The declassification of Negroponte.”
As the nearly two-hour seminar proceeded, the protesters remained mute, watching the class, moving only to give up their chairs to students. Although Lopez raised her hand to speak at the end, history professor John Gaddis, who later said he disagreed with the group’s claims about Negroponte, did not acknowledge her.
Reactions to the quiet protest ranged from mildly curious to interested to dismissive. The seminar’s students seemed to treat the class like any other, remaining engaged in debate and attentive to the professors.
Solman commended the students for their activism.
“I’ve been waiting for this for 40 years,” he said as the protestors walked into the classroom. “This is what we used to be like in college, in the ’60s.”