Two weeks before Thanksgiving break began, Yale students, faculty, administrators and staff got an especially crude reminder that racism still exists in our society. It came in the form of a hateful epithet spray painted near an entrance to Pierson College.
Since that and other recent hurtful incidents, members of the Yale community have found various ways to respond. Many expressed their sentiments on this page. Others spoke out at a rally and a vigil.
Masters and deans sent supportive e-mails and counseled upset students. The Yale College Dean’s Office planned a series of panels on hate — the first of which took place yesterday — and pledged to formulate a policy to determine how to handle such incidents in the future.
The News responded to the graffiti, too. On the Friday after it was found, we wrote to condemn the action and to reaffirm the principles of free speech. The next week, we questioned whether the rally and vigil were proper responses to perceived institutional rascism at Yale and beyond.
All of these responses shared a common goal: to contextualize the incidents and move forward. As we said when we first weighed in, we think the best way to do this is through open discourse and, perhaps, a little bit of disagreement.
To be sure, free speech isn’t a cure all — sometimes it makes us so uncomfortable that we’d rather just hear the politically correct. Nevertheless, speech is the best tool we have to fight back against those who seek to undermine the basic principles of decency that bind us together. The News will continue to speak; but more importantly, we hope you will, too.
Speech itself, though, will serve less of a purpose unless it is directed constructively. So we challenge the campus to answer a question: What, specifically, is your dream for how students at an ideal Yale — perhaps the Yale of your children — should interact?
Since its 1701 founding, Yale has drastically strayed from its white Christian male roots. But even those changes that continue to alter this institution and the world around it, behind scaffolding and blue scrim, only scratch the surface of the change this University is capable of.
So send your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org. Write a mere sentence or a full essay; submit your ideas anonymously or signed. We, too, will consider the question. And later this week and beyond, a compilation of our community’s collective visions will be published in this space.
Community problems demand community solutions. We await your proposals for change.