At close to midnight on Thursday night, roughly 200 students marched to University President Peter Salovey’s home on Hillhouse Avenue under a new name — Next Yale — wielding a new set of demands.
The students said the new movement will hold Yale accountable to its students of color and that a diverse coalition of students crafted the new demands, which supersede those put together by the Black Student Alliance at Yale and presented to administrators more than a week ago. The new demands, which were read aloud to Salovey in front of his home, call on the University to develop ethnic studies, increase support for the cultural centers, address mental health issues for minority students and remove Nicholas and Erika Christakis from their respective positions as master and associate master of Silliman College. The students demanded an administrative response by Nov. 18.
“Because the administration has been unwilling to properly address institutional racism and interpersonal racism at Yale, Next Yale has spent hours organizing, at great expense to our health and grades, to fight for a University where we feel safe,” one of the student leaders read from a prepared statement to Salovey. “Next Yale intends to hold Yale accountable to its students of color in the public eye.”
The students who spoke said that over the past week, people of color — particularly women — have shared painful experiences of racism on campus and have met with administrators, faculty and fellow students to discuss how they can help foster a more inclusive and mutually respectful campus environment. However, they criticized Salovey for announcing an initiative to create a tobacco-free campus last Thursday in his first campuswide email since the racial controversies emerged. Students also pointed out that Salovey and Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway’s joint email on Tuesday focused largely on affirming students’ freedom of speech rather than on addressing racial tensions at Yale.
Lex Barlowe ’17, who was present at the gathering Thursday night, told the News that students put together these demands to reflect the desires of people of color across the Yale College community.
“Originally, BSAY put our own set of demands together last-minute, but the movement has been about not just Black women, but women and people of color in general, so we wanted to bring together the different communities of people of color to craft more inclusive demands,” she said. “No one working on these demands were there representing an organization. It’s a coalition of people of color. It’s about all people of color, but women are at the center of it.”
Salovey told the News that University leaders will “seriously” review the new set of demands and reiterated that a response to them will be issued next week.
Salovey said he considers the manner by which the students delivered the demands entirely acceptable and in compliance with University policy.
“This was a peaceful group of students visiting me at my home at a somewhat late hour, completely consistent with University protest policy,” he said.
Next Yale’s six demands each involved several parts. The first, which focuses on ethnic studies, demands that all Yale undergraduates be required to fulfill an ethnic studies distributional requirement and that the Ethnicity, Race and Migration Program be given departmental status immediately.
The second demand centered on mental health services, a topic that has been prominent in campus discussions and forums over the past two weeks. Next Yale calls for the University to hire mental health professionals in each of the four cultural centers, as well as increased mental health professionals of color at Yale Mental Health and Counseling.
Another demand asked for an increase of $2 million to the current annual operating budget of each cultural center, as well as five full-time staff members for each.
The students also demanded that Calhoun College be renamed and that the two new residential colleges be named after people of color. Under this demand, they also asked for the abolishment of the title “master” and the building of a monument on Cross Campus to acknowledge that Yale was founded on stolen indigenous land.
After the gathering, Salovey told the News that decisions about renaming and naming residential colleges fall under the domain of the Yale Corporation, the governing board and policy-making body for Yale.
The fifth demand, directly addressing recent racial controversies on campus, called for the removal of Nicholas and Erika Christakis from their administrative positions. The final demand focused on allocating resources to support the physical well-being of international, first-generation, low-income and undocumented students.
The ER&M major was established in 1997.