In a letter sent Thursday to Adam Kissel of the Foundation for Individuals Rights in Education, University President Richard Levin addressed accusations from the group that Yale has hampered with free speech on campus.
Kissel, the director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program, criticized the University in a Dec. 18 letter to Levin for two recent campus incidents: the removal of images of Muhammad from a book published by the Yale University Press and the scrapping of a Freshman Class Council T-shirt design that used the word “sissies.”
In his response to the group, sent on Jan. 14, Levin reconfirmed the University’s commitment to the Woodward Report as its guiding policy on freedom of expression. He defended Yale’s position to censor the cartoons by referencing an “assessment of risk to life and safety presented by the particular experiences worldwide associated with those cartoons.”
On the subject of the FCC T-shirt debacle, Levin said it was not the role of any school official to stifle students’ speech. Still, he said he deemed it appropriate for Yale College Dean Mary Miller to advise FCC representatives about the impact of their choices, while maintaining the independence of the council’s ultimate decision. In the end, he said, there were some things to lament.
“As best as I can determine, it would have been possible, and not unreasonable, for some members of the Council to interpret Dean Miller’s counsel as a directive,” Levin wrote. “This we regret.”
Click here to read the full letter.