Although we recognize that a single faculty member may have the right to invite anyone he chooses to speak on campus, we find Branford College Master Steven Smith’s hosting of the controversial Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard highly exasperating, given the significant efforts by the University to make the campus a place that truly welcomes and embraces those of every religion.
This event takes the focus off the most important facts: Yale is better off because of the contributions of its Muslim students, faculty and staff and the deepening understanding and appreciation of Islam.
We have a thriving Muslim Students Association led by a thoughtful, committed board and guided by a full-time coordinator of Muslim life who is a full partner in the work of the University Chaplaincy.
The University has added a new academic major on modern Middle East studies and added new faculty whose courses help everyone on campus develop a greater understanding and appreciation of a diversity of religious traditions. The campus Muslim community is a vibrant part of Yale life, witnessed by the fact that two weeks ago over 500 people of numerous religious traditions attended the annual Ramadan Banquet.
We cannot allow this event to undermine the progress that Yale is making to build a community of true religious understanding.
Sharon Kugler and Omer Bajwa
The writers are the University Chaplain and the coordinator of Muslim Life for the University, respectively.