Letter: A master’s misstep

As students of Branford College, we are disturbed by Master Schottenfeld and Professor Rostain’s article “Taking a tea to task” (Oct. 5). The purpose of our letter is not to rehash the discussion about Westegaard and free speech that we’ve now seen many times over. Rather, it is to express shock at the complete lack of professionalism on the part of the authors.

The article was not particularly novel or courageous; it simply added (in quantity) to a growing corpus of pieces published by the News about Westegaard and the tea. Yet, Schottenfeld and Rostain’s piece is remarkable because it criticized how Professor Smith performs his duties as Branford Master. In this vein, their article is no more appropriate than an article by Master Smith condemning Schottenfeld for a hypothetical lack of diversity among Davenport’s world fellows.

It is possible that the letter was written with good intentions, but the underlying message is that Schottenfeld would never host such a tea in Davenport. If he feels strongly about an issue, he can talk to Master Smith directly or bring up the issue at the next council of masters meeting, but he should refrain from publishing in a student newspaper. In short, Schottenfeld and Rostain should apologize to Smith, not for their opinions but for their professional discourtesy.

Christopher Chau

Max Engelstein

Raiden Hasegawa

Jonathon Lassonde

John Lockwood

Andrew Shumaker

The writers are seniors in Branford College


  • BT4Real

    Agreed. Nice letter.

  • y10

    I love the Branford boys, but I’m going to have to disagree on this one. The Dport Masters’ letter does add value to this discussion, and it is important for students who disagree with the tea to know that there are people in the administration who disagree as well. If students feel offended (I can’t argue as to whether or not they should), it is important for them to know that Master Smith’s invitation is not necessarily a Yale-wide statement or position, that there are important people at this university support them in this issue.

  • Yalie

    I agree with y10.

  • Yale2010

    I agree with Y10, it’s good to have another administration voice taking the other side. It wasn’t only Master Schottenfeld that publicly disagreed with Westegaard’s invitation to speak at Yale. The Stiles Master told students that he disagreed with Master Smith’s actions and even sent an email to the Muslim Students Association panlist saying the same thing. I really do not understand how it is professionally discourteous to voice an opinion about another member of Yale’s actions.

  • schottylogic

    schottenfeld is a suck-up