Brianna Loo

A Friday email sent by Silliman College Associate Master Erika Christakis decrying the censure of costumes deemed culturally appropriating incited campus controversy over Halloween weekend.

Christakis’ message, sent just after midnight Friday, came in response to an email the Intercultural Affairs Council — a group of administrators from the cultural centers, Chaplain’s Office and other campus organizations — sent to the undergraduate student body on Wednesday. The council’s email asked students to be thoughtful about the cultural implications of their Halloween costumes, citing blackface and turbans as examples of details that could offend or belittle others. In Christakis’ email, she defended students’ rights to wear potentially offensive costumes as an expression of free speech, arguing that the ability to tolerate affront is one of the hallmarks of a free and open society. Her email compared adults selecting costumes to children playing dress up, and she asserted that imagination should be encouraged and not constrained.

“Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious … a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?” Christakis, who assumed the position of associate master of Silliman this fall, wrote. “American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition.”

In response, more than 740 undergraduates, graduate students, alumni, faculty and even students from other universities have signed on to an open letter telling Christakis that her “offensive” email invalidates the voices of minority students on campus. The letter, posted Friday night, states that Christakis misrepresented the Intercultural Affairs Committee’s call for sensitivity as “censure.” It also states that in describing the call for sensitive costumes as coming “from above, not from yourselves,” Christakis implies that only administrators, and not students, have called for sensitivity.

Silliman student Ryan Wilson ’17, who wrote the letter with input from other students, argued that Christakis failed to distinguish between dressing up as fictional characters and misrepresenting actual groups of people. Giving room for students to be obnoxious or offensive only invites ridicule and violence onto minorities at Yale, and it decreases the space in which marginalized students can feel safe, Wilson wrote.

“Your email equates old traditions of using harmful stereotypes and tropes to further degrade marginalized people, to preschoolers playing make believe,” the open letter reads. “This both trivializes the harm done by these tropes and infantilizes the student body to which the request was made.”

Christakis has stood by her letter in the face of the subsequent controversy, although she said her words are being “misquoted and misunderstood by some people.” In response to a series of criticisms on Twitter several hours after her letter was first circulated, Christakis posted a link on her own Twitter to an article in The Atlantic titled “The Coddling of the American Mind.” She wrote that “campus censorship culture contradicts best practices for mental health” — an extension of the argument in her original email that her work as a child development specialist had informed her viewpoint.

When asked about the open letter, Christakis told the News that the resulting debate only further illustrated the need for free speech on college campuses.

“It is easier to stand in judgment about offensive costumes than it is to listen to one another in good faith,” Christakis wrote in an email to the News. “Intent matters, I believe, and it seems to me that one problem we have at Yale is a culture of shaming and fear, of which Halloween may end up the least of our concerns.”

Students interviewed were divided on the issue. Anthony Vigil-Martinez ’18 said that while the email sent by the Intercultural Affairs Council only suggested that students be sensitive in their costume choices, its purpose was still to rid campus of culturally offensive costumes and would limit the opportunities for the campus to discuss the problem at large. By pre-empting these conversations, the administration only eliminates the visibility of discrimination without ever addressing the causes, he said.

Nickolas Brooks ’17, who is taking a class with Christakis, also defended her. He noted he does not think she condones blackface or cultural appropriation, and many students now have an incorrect perception of her as a person. Her view that universities are overly censored is one that everyone can agree with, Brooks said, emphasizing that just because she addressed both censorship and racial insensitivity does not mean she endorses the latter.

Christakis said she has heard from many students expressing similar sentiments to those in her email.

“I received scores of notes from students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds decrying the collapse of civil debate at Yale. They describe restricting their conversation to sports and the weather because they are scared to say the wrong thing,” she said. “If healthy debate can’t flourish in a university whose motto is ‘light and truth,’ our problems are bigger than hurtful appropriation and cut to the heart of how a great university can contribute to a truly free and just society.”

Still, many students remain convinced that Christakis’ email was counteractive to fostering a climate that supports students of color. Wilson said Christakis’ message dismissed minority voices on campus and pretended as if cultural sensitivity was not a long fought-for student cause. Similarly, Javier Cienfuegos ’15 said Christakis undermined the goals of the Intercultural Affairs Committee’s email and wrongly designated it institutional overreach.

According to Katherine Fang ’17, the suggestion that the costumes Christakis defended are actually donned to celebrate diverse cultures is offensive, as they actually mock and belittle. When communities of color unite in their offense against culturally appropriating costumes, Fang added, supporters of those outfits are blatantly ignoring those calls.

Emily Van Alst ’16 said Christakis is “coddling” a group of people who already have a voice on campus and silencing minorities who are hurt by cultural appropriation.

For all the controversy surrounding the topic, the incident has made strides in renewing discussion around racial tensions in schools across the nation. Afro-American Cultural Center Director Risë Nelson said building an institution respectful of all identities and communities requires the participation of everyone on campus. Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs Pamela George, who formerly served as director of the Af-Am House, was one of the signatures on the open letter.

“The incidents that took place over Halloween weekend … simply expose micro-aggressions as well as overtly unfair treatment and policies that many have experienced and have reported for years, not just at Yale, but on many college campuses,” Nelson wrote in an email to the News. “It is excellent that we are now here, having widespread discussions that must take place at every level of our institution, in which we all consider ways of maintaining a campus climate that supports all students.”

Christakis and her husband, Silliman College Master Nicholas Christakis, have invited all Silliman signatories of the open letter, as well as any other Silliman students who might disagree with her email, to a lunch this Sunday.

Correction: A previous version of this article referred to Afro-American Cultural Center Director Risë Nelson as Risë Nelson Burrow. Her professional surname is in fact Nelson.

  • MiddleageLiberal

    “American universities . . . increasingly, it seems, have become places of censure and prohibition.”

    The protest letter proves the point quite nicely, unfortunately.

    Will Yale = Wesleyan South?

    • aaleli

      Yep.

  • Hubert_the_Infant

    I had just emailed my old Yale roommate a link to an article about Middlebury College’s strongly encouraging its student to avoid “insensitive” Halloween costumes. when I read this article. I had thought that Middlebury was pathetic, but it looks like Yale is even worse. The students who signed the open letter attacking Associate Master Christakis should be chagrined — and, obviously, need to be educated better. The faculty members who signed it need to find another line of work. And, the Yale Administration needs to do something quickly to fix the mess that Yale has become. Free speech really is important at a university, let alone one that purports to be world-class.

    • aaleli

      You will not recognize Yale in a few years. The irony is that all those hoping to become part what has made Yale special, are changing its very essence and don’t even realize it. Yale is on the fast track to becoming nothing more than a state school, starting with the lowered standards of admits (in the name of diversity and first generation) to this crap-bag garbage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profg Bill

    You have GOT to be kidding me. Wilson ’17 just proved Christakis right, and he
    probably doesn’t even realize it. What the hell has happened to America’s
    college campuses? Places that used to be bastions of free speech and
    tough academic exchanges are full of intolerant “boo hoo you stepped on
    my widdle feelings” pre-schoolers where butt-hurt runs rampant.
    Disgusting.

    • Yale1984

      Widdle preschoolers are built of sterner stuff.

    • Jerrky

      You said it right, “preschoolers”. Imagine, from preschool all the way through highschool these students get no trigger warnings, yet once they have matured to adults and go to college they are, in fact, coddled with trigger warnings as if they are infants.

  • matt10023

    Good for her. Of course the predicable response of outrage for even suggesting that people can make choices illustrates the censorship of ideas through prior restraint.

    Now, I wonder, if I were to wear a costume with the words, “I’m offended” would that also be forbidden? I think so, because someone who claims marginalized status can say I’m making them feel unsafe.

  • Nancy Morris

    Erika Christakis Is correct in this.

    The claim that Yale or its community should worry about “giving room for students to be obnoxious or offensive” is entirely inconsistent with the central university purpose and promise of free expression and inquiry and, in fact, is obviously obnoxious and offensive. Not that anyone should pressure silly people like Ryan Wilson to shut up on that account.

  • Yale1984

    Is there a petition supporting Associate Master Erika Christakis? Perhaps the sensitive types should wear paper bags over there heads for Halloween.

  • ldffly

    It’s about time!!! Thank you Erika Christakis!

  • Nomadic100

    My sympathies to Yale undergrads today who live in such a self-imposed constricted environment with regard to personal expression. The pendulum was certainly far in the other direction in the late 60’s. “Cultural appropriations,” offended feelings at every turn, the primacy of “sensitivity” – what poppycock! Viet Nam was a REAL issue; people were dying.

  • dcheretic

    The concept of “cultural appropriation” has expanded to such ludicrous levels that it is now used to actively discourage and shame exploration of other cultures by white people. Of course wearing blackface or speaking in broken English to mock immigrants is wrong under any circumstances, and people who engage in such offensive and louche behavior should be called out and ostracized by their peers. Charges of cultural appropriation, however, are now being used to discourage white people from wearing “ethnic” fashions, cooking “ethnic” foods, and participating in “ethnic” art forms. The Washington Post recently ran an op-ed by a Korean-American columnist who decried white people making and consuming bone broth soups!

    By conflating well meaning curiosity and cultural exploration with racism and imperialism, the extreme PC thought police are hindering cross-cultural understanding. They want cultural exploration strictly on their terms, even though they may be several generations and thousands of miles removed from the birthplace of the cultural practices they claim to protect. Ironically, obsession with cultural appropriation comes from a place of privilege. This peculiar concept emanates from the Ivory Towers of the Western world, and is articulated by well educated tongues. As most international travelers will attest, native peoples throughout the world are far more often thrilled than not when an American or other traveler displays an interest in, and experience with, their culture.

    In my urban Washington neighborhood, one trick-or-treater was a young African-American girl who wore as her costume a traditional Korean robe. She looked lovely. I was pleasantly surprised that a child would forego the usual ghoul or superhero costume for something that reflected appreciation in another culture. Hopefully her choice of costume did not lead to accusations of cultural appropriation by the shrill PC crowd. Now if she had been a white girl…

    Alum 1995

    • Shogun1x

      Segregation is the only way to fight racism.

      • Joe Cisneros

        LOL!

    • shadowcat16

      I think there’s a fine line to be drawn here. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a black (or white) girl wearing a traditional Korean robe, so long as she does it in a way that shows respect for the culture. If, however, she paints her face white, tapes her eyelids to give them an exaggerated upward slant, and walks around mimicking a Korean accent…now that’s culturally insensitive and just perpetuates stereotypes. And believe it or not, I’ve actually seen [white] people do this with traditional Chinese and Japanese outfits on Halloween (and I live in New York). I think the Council was just trying to tell students to use some common sense in picking their costumes.

      Huffington Post has a good article on this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/offensive-halloween-costumes-ignorant_560ed210e4b0af3706e0ae3d

      And here’s another post that shows some examples of potentially racist costumes (check out the last pic to see how you can portray someone of another race without being offensive): http://www.teabreakfast.com/25-racist-halloween-costumes/

      • http://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/lists/the-10-worst-ways-to-die-in-a-hieronymous-bosch-painting-53872 Hieronymus Machine

        What aspects of white culture should other cultures avoid appropriating? Yale?

      • KiteFlyer89

        “girl wearing a traditional Korean robe, so long as she does it in a way that shows respect for the culture”

        Respect as defined by whom? Not only is the logic of preventing cultural appropriation completely unrealistic (newsflash: in the age of the internet, people are going to mess around with cultural icons and imagery nonstop, all the time, in whatever context they want, for the remainder of human history), but it ignores the fact that this process of cultural interchange – regardless of power structures – is essentially the entire process of human history. You’re not objecting to cultural appropriation, you’re objecting to culture.

        Imagine if American western directors and Japanese samurai directors had lived in the age of “cultural appropriation”.

  • bittman

    This should be happening every day on every American campus! We live in America—which is not yet Russia, China, or North Korea. Down with the Cultural Marxists—I don’t care if they call themselves Progressives, Socialists, Communists, etc.

    • https://twitter.com/teedubv5 Teedub

      Oh the irony. With the exception of North Korea, both the places you mentioned are a hell of a lot more free than present-day U.S college campuses when it comes to freedom of thought. If a US college feminist was in a Russian university whining about ‘microagressions’ or what not, she’d be laughed out of the room for spouting such nonsense. It’s not even funny really, as these kids will eventually get jobs etc – and the generation of people who’d fire them on the spot are dying out.

      • bittman

        Do you think the students are doing this because they are afraid of their Professors who are Marxists for the most part OR do you think the students’ minds have been so warped as a result of the Bill Ayers’ trained teachers in grades 1-12? I remember getting my grades knocked down a notch a couple of times because I dared to question the professors who obviously leaned Left.

  • Havid Damburger

    Silliman suddenly seems like the name of Dickens character

  • roxlet

    Political correctness has overwhelmed college campuses, and unfortunately free speech has become its victim. It is mind boggling that there is nothing better to get upset about than a letter about Halloween. How are these people going to live in a world where no one is going to give them trigger warnings, or protect them from Halloween costumes.

  • Wittgenstein

    It certainly is easy for all the people in the comments to speak from a place of privilege. The same goes for the Associate Master, who should be ashamed of her actions. In case you didn’t know, privilege is when you think something’s not a problem because it’s not an issue for you. All this hysteria about the disintegration of free speech and the coddling of marginalized college students comes from a misguided sense of what free expression and coddling is. No one has denied you the right to express yourself however you please, but don’t expect the rest of the community to remain passive to what you say and do. Excuse us if we’re not willing to oblige your “curiosity” about and “love” for other cultures when you’ve actively terrorized us for generations. Any reasonable person can see that this madness is a desperate attempt to regain what control you had over minorities now that they are standing up for themselves.

    • http://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/lists/the-10-worst-ways-to-die-in-a-hieronymous-bosch-painting-53872 Hieronymus Machine

      Tolerance. Love. Inclusiveness.

      No, wait: “Excuse us if we’re not willing to oblige your “curiosity” about and “love” for other cultures when you’ve actively terrorized us for generations. Any reasonable person can see that this madness is a desperate attempt to regain what control you had over minorities now that they are standing up for themselves.”

      Goodness, I hope this one-comment commenter is a troll!

    • TJB

      A boy of Columbian descent was stopped from wearing a Mariachi band costume as it was ‘cultural appropriation’ and some people may find it offensive. As he said himself “Mariachi bands are very much part of Columbian culture”. So he was stopped from wearing something that is part of his own culture as someone else may find it offensive on his behalf? It is idiocy.

      • CindyFromBrooklyn

        It is PC idiocy.
        But I repeat myself…

    • jeburke

      Free expression is free expression. No one needs you or anyone else to define what it means. That’s what makes it free.

    • politicalcynic

      Asserting “privilege” is simply a form of ad hominem attack. It is attempting to silence the SPEAKER by attacking them personally rather than responding to what they are saying.

      As such, it is a recognized fallacy.

      An argument based on a fallacy carries no weight.

    • http://www.avoiceformen.com/ Suzy McCarley

      A lecture on “privilege” from someone who has access to the internet. Are you using the $600 Iphone your daddy bought?
      I hope your comment is a poe. If not you should probably find a hobby other than “being offended.” Or switch to a STEM major and find yourself too busy studying.

      • Antago Dynamaur

        Oh, yea, because you know ALLLL about privilege & whining driversuz. Let me guess, you peruse around on the Internet looking for anyone and everyone to criticize, ban, and attempt to humiliate? You have made absolutely NO POINT whatsoever other than trying to sound like some pseudo-intellectual superior woman. Maybe you need to actually find something soulful and meaningful in your life instead of running around playing queen judge of everyone. Better watch your snake tongue, you’ll get devoured alive

    • matt10023

      It’s an interesting perspective. If I’m critical of a conservative Islamic culture, from my position of privilege, for stoning a woman to death based on an allegation of adultery what will you do? On the one hand, people of Islamic faith are minority here, but women are also a put upon group here and there.

      Can we even discuss the topic? Someone might get offended if we do (anti-muslim), and others may see it as a relevant observation about the plight of women.

      And in the end, it wouldn’t matter if there weren’t also speech codes at Yale and other schools that say things like, “[R]acial or ethnic harassment is considered to occur when any individual is subjected to arbitrary, capricious, or discriminatory treatment on the basis of race or ethnic origin.” Speech can be punished. Does a Halloween costume apply here? Can the school come after someone wearing sombrero in your views?

    • CindyFromBrooklyn

      You poor wee thing….
      Perhaps if you stopped whining long enough to think you would realize how fatuous your comment is.

    • JohnHousecat

      How dare you appropriate the name of a thinker far greater than yourself for your Disqus handle.

  • jimfay

    Free speech includes the right to say extremely obnoxious things. Suffer the consequences. If those consequences become criminal on the part of another person, they’ll have consequences as well. Wearing a sombrero when you’re NOT Mexican is hardly a crime. It would necessitate that no one dress like a leprechaun on St. Patrick’s Day without being able to prove Irish ancestry. How ridiculous does political correctness need to become before it becomes an insult to us all? Should I refrain from speaking a language other than my native tongue?

    • Mark Neil

      White people, including the Irish, don’t have a culture of their own, and due to their privilege of colonization, can’t claim cultural appropriation… or some double standard garbage like that.

      • http://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/lists/the-10-worst-ways-to-die-in-a-hieronymous-bosch-painting-53872 Hieronymus Machine

        But I like whisky… er, whiskey.

      • matt10023

        I know you’re trying to figure it out, but it’s hard.

        Spain was a colonizing country. Does that eliminate Spanish speakers from the category of those who have a culture? Are people from Spain white? They look white. I guess they’re white. If someone dresses up as a flamenco dancer, is it no longer cultural appropriation? Or maybe it’s OK if a white Spanish speaker chooses that costume, but not a black English speaker.

        Or is it only indigenous people who were colonized who can make claim to protections from appropriation? And which part of their culture should be protected. African Americans are not indigenous here…. I’m just so confused by the rules and logic of cultural appropriation.

        Maybe it comes down to “If it offends me, then it’s bad.” I saw one 6 year old dressed up as firefighter. But then I read that a lot of fire departments are mostly male. Is that offensive because they don’t have enough women?

      • I Dominguez-Urban
      • I Dominguez-Urban

        The Irish and Italians were considered “black” in this country during the late 19th an early 20th C. Things only began changing around about WWII.

        The Irish, in particular, cannot be called colonizers, since they themselves were colonizees for hundreds of years. Only since the late 20th C have the Irish been able to join the ranks of those considered “white” by society. [Look up “the Troubles” and “the Potato Famine.”

      • I Dominguez-Urban

        “The Irish don’t have a culture due to their privilege of colonization”?

        The Irish weren’t colonizers, they were colonizees.

      • CindyFromBrooklyn

        All those Irish colonies…
        What happened to them?

      • Mark Neil

        I think too many people missed the “or some double standard garbage like that.” part of my post.

    • aaleli

      We are WAY past the point of ridiculousness. Look at the re-naming of the colleges.

      • http://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/lists/the-10-worst-ways-to-die-in-a-hieronymous-bosch-painting-53872 Hieronymus Machine

        PC-sensitivity: from visibility to risibility?

    • CindyFromBrooklyn

      Well said. Thanks.

  • Confused

    I’m really perplexed by the discourse of “free speech” here. Commenters here, and those supporting Christakis, seem to suggest that those hurt and offended by her comments, and by certain Halloween costumes more broadly, should simply keep their feelings to themselves. Who’s suppressing whose speech, again?

    I’m also curious as to what Christakis means when she says “healthy debate.” It seems that, contrary to what she and others are saying, there is a ton of debate. The debate is happening right now. It’s in this article. It’s in the comments. It’s over tables in the dining halls. Look around! Seems like debate is doing just fine to me.

    If by “healthy,” Christakis is referring to the tone of the debate, then I would ask her and others to start by exploring why some students might be so angry in the first place. Has she, or others, acknowledged that that anger might be legitimate? If not, I don’t see much “healthy debate” coming from her side.

    • TJB

      Sadly though the debate is far from healthy by those who find offense in the slightest thing. This nonsense of cultural appropriation has gone so far now that a young lad who is of Columbian descent is stopped from wearing a mariachi band outfit for fear of upsetting others even though as he says himself “mariachi bands are a part of my culture”.

      The infantilisation of students even those of college age is harmful. Professors should not have to give trigger warnings for fear of offending or upsetting someone when they read great works of literature. If someone is so so fragile as to be sent into a tailspin by the classics then to be honest they are not yet ready for further education.

      Colleges and universities should be places of learning, of debate and thinking. They should not be echo chambers that reinforce stupidity.

    • Mark Neil

      But those whinging about cultural appropriation aren’t simply stating disagreement, they are demanding action. You’re feelings don’t trump my right to express myself.

      “I’m also curious as to what Christakis means when she says “healthy debate.” ”

      She’s referring to the tendency for the politically correct to shout down disagreement, call it racist, sexist, phobic or other bigotries, and then use those labels to justify why those they have labeled as such should not be heard, and certainly not be given a platform to express their opinions.

      “there is a ton of debate. ”

      No, there isn’t. There is one side insisting their feelings of offence trumps all, and another side trying to argue otherwise, only to be given the cold shoulder.

      “It’s in this article. It’s in the comments. ”

      Is it? Seems to me this article and the comments are more about even being allowed to have the debate, rather than the topic of feeling offended itself.

      “then I would ask her and others to start by exploring why some students might be so angry in the first place. ”

      So again, your feelings come first and foremost?

      “acknowledged that that anger might be legitimate? ”

      Would that not require discussion? Will you acknowledge those feelings may not be legitimate, and the demands surround it unreasonable? Because expecting us to accept your feelings are legitimate before even having the discussion is begging the question.

      “If not, I don’t see much “healthy debate” coming from her side.”

      It’s always everyone else with the politically correct. It’s a tactic called D.A.R.V.O. Deflect, Attack, Reverse Victim Order. YOU are the ones making demands that your feelings are more important than others right to expression, and justifying this perception by asserting, without consideration or nuance, that bigotry is the basis of the expression, thus you need not defend your demands further. You are the ones initiating hostilities here, but pretend to be the victims.

      • YaleAlumniParent

        Soo why do white students not wear Adolph Hitler or Nazi costumes?

        • CindyFromBrooklyn

          Because they’re not jerks.
          Next question.

      • I Dominguez-Urban

        Feelings are always legitimate. Feelings are. They’re not correct or wrong. You can’t tell someone you can’t feel happy about this or angry about that. You can’t tell someone not to jerk their hand back when they touch something hot. Feelings happen. It’s what you do with them afterward that can be good or bad. It’s when you engage your brain that you can choose what to do and what to say.

        • JohnHousecat

          Aberrant feelings to things that reasonable, fit people can handle easily ARE wrong and need to be self-corrected. Cognitive distortions easily lead to emotional dysfunction, and it’s dysfunctional of a young adult to be behaving like a toddler without any resilience to even the smallest amounts of discomfort.

    • Mozite

      Where does she suggest that people shouldn’t say anything? One set of adminstrators sent out one message on one side of the debate, she sent out another on the other side of the debate. Unless simply disagreeing is to suggest that people should “simply keep their feelings to themselves”, I don’t see how such an inference can be implied.

      Secondly, The only point in the article that mentions “healthy debate” is straight after her saying that she had received notes from people saying they actively avoided these topics as they were “scared to say the wrong thing”. If some of those arguing for cultural sensitivity were to come out and say they avoided talking about it because they were scared of saying the wrong thing, would you say its ok because other people are having the debate, so its doing just fine?

    • http://www.avoiceformen.com/ Suzy McCarley

      Nobody thinks they should keep their feelings to themselves. Most of us simply think they have no right to expect sensible people to take them seriously. If they insist on behaving like whining children, especially in public, they should expect to be treated as such.

      • Antago Dynamaur

        Listen whore, nobody knows you nor does anyone give a fuck about your opinion on what is “whining little children”. Go the hell away

    • Jen

      Christakis said to either, 1) ignore the person in costume, or 2) start a conversation to let them know that you are offended by the costume.

      • CindyFromBrooklyn

        Facts won’t matter to confused. He’s confused, don’t you see…

    • JohnHousecat

      They should keep their “feelings” in their appropriate places, yes. It’s those ~feelings~ that are ruining honest intellectual discourse, because absolutely anything could be construed as hurtful–though I think the right word is “triggering”–to someone somewhere. Some of these emotionally reasoning children don’t want law professors to mention the word “rape” because it can be ~triggering~.

      And just stop with the whole “tone policing” garbage, lest you all continue to prove yourselves blindly hypocritical.

  • jeburke

    There are now at least two places in the world where censors can tell you what costume you can wear on a holiday: North Korea and Yale.

    Good for Christakis. It’s about time someone told fascistic “liberals” to go sit on a tack.

    • CindyFromBrooklyn

      Microaggression! Microaggression! Microaggression!
      Whoop whoop Whoop!

  • Teek

    The word “micro-aggression” is great. It’s an easy way to know when you should stop taking somebody seriously.

    • CindyFromBrooklyn

      Works every time.

  • 100wattlightbulb

    Where does it end? “I can’t work in a room with men in suits, it’s too oppressive”. “I can’t live in a building with that name on it, it reminds me of when I was NEVER a slave on a plantation”. “I can’t use that bathroom, it doesn’t match the genitalia I don’t really possess”. “I’m going to have a hissy fit about people wearing FRICKING Halloween costumes, because I feel it protects and coddles them”. The only thing that is really lacking is an abundance of mental health counseling for a good portion of the Yale population. Go home. Go back to where it’s safe and live your sad, constantly offended lives and let those interested in getting on with an education and real life, do so. Please.

    • Unmutual One

      It’s never going to end, and the idiotic left will continue to appease these people until we are basically living in Oceania.

      • http://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/lists/the-10-worst-ways-to-die-in-a-hieronymous-bosch-painting-53872 Hieronymus Machine

        Read the article, check the vid(!): PC has peaked?
        http://www.nationalreview.com/article/426452/political-correctness-peaks-social-justice-liberals

        “Cultural appropriation” is when you take something “from a culture that ISN’T YOURS” and use it “FOR YOUR OWN PURPOSES” (“Gads!” [faints]. BTW: So… should others stop appropriating Judeo-Christian and traditionally Euro-American culture?)

        “We, as [students], have a commitment to other [students] to making sure this DOESN’T HAPPEN on OUR CAMPUS.”

        “The [cultural unions] WILL NOT TOLERATE ‘ignorance’ or ‘disrespect.'” “Emulating aspects of physical or mental disability [e.g., strait jacket, Lt. Dan] is appropriative (sic) of ‘disability culture’ (sic); OFF LIMITS costumes are things like… pretending to be a mental patient.” “Fake mustaches?” Verboten.

      • JeffersonSpinningInGrave

        That’s it exactly. It ends when the far left gains full control of society. 1984. At that point, you’ll do exactly as you are told, when you are told, and whining will no longer be tolerated.

  • Juan Diaz

    Only in our new enlightened college campuses can such a raucous discussion take place about Halloween costumes. Lighten up and let folks dress as they like. Have we all lost sight of our First Amendment right to freedom of expression? If you are offended by someone else’s costume, just remember that they might be offended by your costume, so where does this all end? Do we cancel Halloween so that no one is offended?

  • chizwoz

    Worried about people getting insulted by certain costumes? Teach people how to have thicker skins and not get bogged down by such meaningless rubbish.
    There’s a constant desire to settle these issues by restricting freedom rather than increasing it. If you’re less sensitive and fragile, you’re free to do a lot more with life. And other people are free to wear what the hell they want.

    • CindyFromBrooklyn

      Microaggression! Microaggression! Microaggression!
      Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!

  • 15gladyskravitz

    No wonder so many deans, MASTERS, and others are stepping down. Yale – hoist on it’s own petard. This atmosphere IS becoming oppressive for the exact opposite reason the left diaper-wearing, liberals howl about. Halloween costumes? Halloween costumes.

  • Taquoshi

    “her “offensive” email invalidates the voices of minority students on campus.

    Wow! One person…just one voice….

    can silence a whole minority groups’ voices?

    Talk about POWER!!! That’s pretty impressive if you ask me….

  • chriss221

    The feminization of the American mind.
    It’s rotting us at our core.

  • theelmcityistheGSCIA

    Is anyone talking about how Howard sent an almost identical email to the Northwestern student body while he was an administrator there? Almost verbatim! https://www.thefire.org/e-mail-from-dean-of-students-burgwell-j-howard-to-northwestern-university-students/

    • I Dominguez-Urban

      And …. What points does that raise?

  • HarborBeach

    OMG. What a bunch of babies are Ryan WIlson, Emily Van Alst, Pamela George and Katherine Fang. Please grow up!

  • Nancy Morris

    A Native American leader at the forefront of efforts to ban the “racist” Washington Redskins team name dressed up in blackface for Halloween, according to a report.

    Terry Rambler, chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona, posted a Facebook picture of himself as reggae legend Bob Marley, according to the Independent Journal.

    “I had fun tonight at the Bylas Halloween Carnival,” he wrote of a picture of himself flashing a peace sign and wearing a dreadlocks wig with blackface makeup.

    “I joined up with the Bylas Wellness Program and gave out information & candy and set up a ring toss booth. It was so awesome seeing the happy and enthusiastic faces of our children.”

    • CindyFromBrooklyn

      Funny. Thanks.

    • matt10023

      Reminds me of Jesse Jackson’s famous “Hymietown” reference to New York City’s Jewish population. When people were upset, he accused his critics of making him the target of a Jewish conspiracy to ruin his campaign.

      http://articles.latimes.com/1986-10-19/magazine/tm-5850_1_jesse-jackson

    • http://www.circumstitions.com/ Hugh7

      Yes, but he didn’t call himself by the N-word, which is a much closer equivalent to the R-word.

    • I Dominguez-Urban

      He didn’t do this to be hurtful. He did it because he didn’t know it would be so hurtful to so many people. When he was called on it, he apologized. He learned something and the people who were offended learned how to communicate to others that they are offended.

      Instead of just being cursed at and vilified, he had the opportunity to explain himself, hear from the other side, and then decide what to do. No one should be vilified for one thing that they do that offends people. The offended should have an opportunity to explain why they are offended and the alleged offender should be given an opportunity to explain. It might just turn out that there has been a misinterpretation or misunderstanding by one side or both.

      If that is cleared up, then the world is better for it.

      • Nancy Morris

        Christakis said he was sorry that some people experienced pain. He specifically said he did NOT apologize for his wife’s email nor did he say that the email would not or should not have been sent if the pain it caused had been understood before it was sent. And he shouldn’t apologize for the email. There is nothing about that email that warrants an apology. The mere fact that someone experiences pain from what one says does not mean one shouldn’t say it. If anything, this whole set of developments proves how urgent, important and correct Erika Christakis’ message really was.

  • dissenter88

    Would it be too much to ask for you to actually post the email so people can read it?

  • The_Dumb_Money
  • The Dead Rabbits

    Four legs good, two legs bad! Go Silly-man!

  • Shaarinya

    what a bunch of wimps. the real world will eat you up if you’re offended by Hallowe’en..

    God help the stupid people.

    • JeffersonSpinningInGrave

      I fear this attitude might be a mistake. Many of these people will end up in government positions, in education, on the bench in both state and federal courts, and other influential positions. Do you imagine they would hesitate for even a second before abusing whatever power their position gives them to impose their will on others? That we do not have people in government and education doing this right now? It’s easy to dismiss such people as silly, immature, and pathetic. But these same fanatics, in other times and places, were the raw material for the Red Brigades, the Brown-shirts, and the Red Guard of Chairman Mao. This militant illiberal movement we see on campuses throughout the nation needs to be taken seriously.

      • Shaarinya

        sadly, many will turn into exactly what you said.

        they will get taken down with the rest of the machine.

  • ou812

    Let’s stop mocking the dead. No more ghost costumes!

    • CindyFromBrooklyn

      No Jerry costumes as well.

    • JohnHousecat

      What about the undead? Zombies were people too, and it seems so cruel to mock them for something they can’t control. …I guess that means I can’t dress up as an SJW for Halloween, either.

      • ou812

        What about teh zombiez?

  • Chronos Z. Wonderpig

    so do these kids expect to get real jobs after graduation????

  • smartguynyc

    So…one black person is entitled to speak on behalf of all black people. Ok, does that mean that I can judge all black people based on the actions of one black person?

    • CindyFromBrooklyn

      Who speaks for all New Yorkers, me or you?

  • I Dominguez-Urban

    Have you read both emails, in full, with the skills you have been taught? Don’t just respond on the basis of what an article says. Read them for yourself.

    Here’s the IAC email. Another commenter, The_Dumb_Money, has posted the professor’s email.

    http://pastebin.com/TLGSdaTg

  • Maggs Marolla

    “Giving room for students to be obnoxious or offensive only invites ridicule and violence onto minorities at Yale, and it decreases the space in which marginalized students can feel safe, Wilson wrote.”

    As a society, we do young adults no favors, if we create a world to make them feel “safe.” Nothing about this world has ever been safe. That’s an illusion, perhaps appropriate to some degree in childhood, but by college, all individuals need to learn about the real world.

    I support Christakis on this one.

  • CindyFromBrooklyn

    Yale is populated by grievance seeking hot house flowers.
    Such tender blossoms, what will they do when they graduate, being temperamentally unfit for life in the real world?

    • JeffersonSpinningInGrave

      Government jobs? The public employee unions can keep them from facing reality.

      • 1digger

        Yeah and we’ll end up paying for their wages and benefits and if we have problems with how they perform they’ll have the union and government that have their backs while they put a knife in ours.

        • JeffersonSpinningInGrave

          Yep, that’s more or less how it is now.

    • JohnHousecat

      Their petals will shrivel, their stems will droop, and they’ll find their withered selves back at their childhood homes in their self-made beds of thorns.

  • CindyFromBrooklyn

    Halloween costumes offensive? Spare me, little flower.
    You know what’s really offensive? Legacy Admissions, affirmative action for the wealthy and connected.
    That’s truly offensive.

  • EdCrunk

    I can’t wait until these children get into the real world. Are they going to shriek at their bosses about safe spaces? lolololololol

    • chicagoxile

      Yes. It’s been happening for decades and will happen at ever-increasing rates.

  • JeffersonSpinningInGrave

    To see university students screaming for censorship of free speech and suppression of free exchange of ideas is pretty chilling. It’s especially chilling because I’m sure, if you asked any of these students, they would claim to support free exchange of ideas, and probably even believe that they do.

    • Carabec

      Did you notice when the girl started screaming at the Professor the crowed stareted. moving away from her?

      • Brenda Fattits

        Was too distracted by their finger snapping in support of her. i guess clapping is too violent or non pc now?

  • Carabec

    I read Erikas email. Intelligent and thoughtful. A guide to young people in pursuit of a well rounded education.

  • Carl Harrison

    After reading the Atlantic piece, I thought the students might be suffering from a bad case of political correctness. But I’ve changed my mind. Though some of students are emotional and rude, they’re right. Christakis appears to be denying the affect of insidious forms or racism. What she wrote was hurtful and wrong.

    • 1digger

      It’s people like yourself with your hypersensitivity that is causing such outrageous rhetoric against such simplistic issues as of all things, Halloween costumes. There are far more ‘real’ issues our nation and world are facing rather than being concerned over what some micro-aggression or offense one or a few may ‘feel’. Take some advice, don’t get yourself so tied up in knots over the minutia in life.

  • Tristan Weary

    I take it then that these students will not longer eat at Taco Bell? Or listen to the Black Keys? Or watch Mulan or The Lion King? Or any other form of expression that commercializes and appropriates other cultures? Because I don’t see any difference between that and wearing a Native American costume in the end.

    • commentor

      The conversation is about what makes students feel that they are equal members of their school’s community. Last I heard eating Taco Bell, listening to the Black Keys, and watching Mulan or Lion King were not required to get a degree from Yale.

      • JeffersonSpinningInGrave

        Neither is wearing a costume, or participating in Halloween festivities in general.

        • commentor

          The email from Yale administrators wasn’t about a requirement for students to wear costumes. The email was about appropriate costumes. You seem to believe any type of costume is appropriate. Others disagree.

          • JeffersonSpinningInGrave

            The point was, just like eating Taco Bell has nothing to do with the requirements to get a degree, neither does wearing a costume. If your argument applied to one, it applies to the other. I would argue that neither should have any bearing on earning a degree.

            Regarding costumes, some are rude and obnoxious and will offend many people. Some are less controversial and will offend fewer people.

            Here’s the essential question in this conversation: Does someone have the right to not be offended? If the answer is ‘yes,” then nobody has the right to free speech since someone will be offended by the expression of just about any idea. It’s impossible to have it both ways. The risk of feeling uncomfortable or being offended is the price of the right to express your thoughts. To claim the right to use any kind of coercion to prevent others from expressing an idea is extremely serious. You might feel very strongly that you are right to do so, but understand that feeling self-righteous will not distinguish you from many (if any) of the worst tyrants in history.

            I don’t have a problem with the University President asking people to think before they choose a costume. He has a right to express that thought. But to put any kind of force behind that, or to attempt to suppress opposing opinions, that crosses an important line.

          • commentor

            To address Taco Bell et al: if students found that opening a taco bell on campus was detrimental to their learning experience then chances are they could have the business removed from campus.

    • activismNOW

      Never mind that celebration of Halloween by non-Celtic people is cultural appropriation in itself.

  • JohnHousecat

    It is clear that these kids who got upset by the email lack the reading comprehension it takes to understand what Christakis was saying in it. They all took it to mean that she somehow said it was okay to wear offensive costumes…but I’ve read the email. I didn’t grow up coddled like the kids in college are today (BTW, that Atlantic article she linked to is excellent, as I’ve linked to it several times in my discourses about Millennials), and I was taught to read something at least twice before commenting about it (three times, if it seems to be inflammatory or elicits a sense of offense).
    Christakis is right…her words weren’t/aren’t being understood by these kids.

  • PlanetJuggler

    I support Erika Christakis.

  • Charles

    It appears many forgot this is Halloween. I went to Yale once upon a time. In my day, after we parked our dinosaurs, we usually dressed up as the Yalies we were on October 30. Nobody told us what to wear. Nobody cared.

    A part of Halloween is that it’s a “safe space” to dress up gross, scary, disgusting, slutty, and what have you. Dress as Death itself if you’re so inclined. Carry a scythe.

    The administration’s first email blast seemed to forget that point. Ms. Christakis made a carefully phrased and reasonable point that her colleagues were overdoing it and that it was ok to play on Halloween, even if that meant acting like a dumbass undergraduate in some cases.

    The ensuing student protest was in some cases vulgar, disrespectful and embarrassing to Elis everywhere.

  • Jonathan

    Christakis should be ashamed. These kids are gonna think that we think that they think that is ok to not tell them what to not wear.

  • Steve Dobrinsky

    Looks like some Harvard students are making a mockery of this! They’re selling t-shirts with the phrase “Yale: Not an Intellectual Space” on them… https://notanintellectual.space/

    • JohnHousecat

      Ahahahahaha, they even got the new URL. If that is a Harvard student, it’s brilliant (design needs a little polishing, but the concept is awesome).

  • Casual Observer

    Missing the point.

    In light of the terrorist attacks in Paris, suicide bombers at a soccer game, execution of hostages at a concert venue, gunmen spraying bullets at a restaurant, et al, the Yale students feeling afraid, losing sleep, skipping classes over an email about Halloween costumes, it just seems like the students may need to adjust their priorities.

    Yes, slavery was horrible and still exists in this world. Yes, there is white privilege based on latent prejudice. Yes, the brutality of a militarized police need to be exposed. Yes, the political elites have sought their own self interest and failed to
    address economic disparity and social problems. Yes, yes, yes for whatever SJWs want anybody to acknowledge and to apologize.

    Then what.

    Whether those identities are based on race or religion or whatever you want to
    define otherness, critical race theory and identity politics are a dead end.

    The horror in Paris may be the beginning of an endgame for identity politics. I hope so.

  • Casual Observer

    Go to youtube. Lookup Neel Kolhatkar (he’s a young Australian-Indian comic, maybe 19 or 20 years old.) He has a video called “Modern Educayshun”. You guys should watch it. You can thank me later.

    • Joe Cisneros

      Thank you later

  • Casual Observer

    Dismayed by the length of time it takes The Yale Daily News to approve a comment

  • Domitian

    The left has really descended into the absurd

  • Casual Observer

    Harvard Law professor Randall Kennedy’s op ed in the NY Times, Black Tape at Harvard Law, perfectly captures the importance and problems of the movements across the country. He is the adult in the room. Faith in higher education restored. Check it out. He points out that discussion of real issues is a good thing and that over-reach and hyperbole are not, and facts matter. I recommend you all read the whole piece.

    A few quotes:

    “While some of these complaints have a ring of validity, several are dubious. A decision by a professor to focus on a seemingly dry, technical issue rather than a more accessible, volatile subject involving race might well reflect a justifiable pedagogical strategy. Opposition to racial affirmative action can stem from a wide range of sources other than prejudice. Racism and its kindred pathologies are already big foes; there is no sustained payoff in exaggerating their presence, thus makingthem more formidable than they actually are.

    Disturbing, too, is a related tendency to indulge in self-diminishment by displaying an excessive vulnerability to perceived and actual slights and insults. Some activists seem to have learned that invoking the rhetoric of trauma is an effective way of hooking into the consciences of solicitous authorities. Perhaps it is useful for purposes of eliciting certain short-term gains.

    In the long run, though, reformers harm themselves by nurturing an inflated sense of victimization. A colleague of mine whose portrait was taped over exhibited the right spirit when he jauntily declared that it would take far more than tape to slow him down.”

    Oh and by the way, his own portrait got a strip of tape. His response? Balanced. Mature.

    “I saw the taped photos, including my own, right before class. Since then I have been asked repeatedly how I feel about having been targeted by what some deem to be a racial hate crime. Questioners often seem to assume that I should feel deeply alarmed and hurt. I don’t.

    The identity and motives of the person or people behind the taping have not been determined. Perhaps the defacer is part of the law school community. But maybe not. Perhaps the defacer is white. But maybe not. Perhaps the taping is meant to convey anti-black contempt or hatred for the African-American professors. But maybe it was meant to protest the perceived marginalization of black professors, or was a hoax meant to look like a racial insult in order to provoke a crisis, or was a rebuke to those who have recently been taping over the law school’s seal, which
    memorializes a family of slaveholders from colonial times. Some observers, bristling with certainty, insist that the message conveyed by the taping of the photographs is obvious. To me it is puzzling.”

    If he was at Yale, and merely questioning the Black Autumn narrative, I imagine he could be spat upon and called a traitor, and certainly screamed at to resign, with some expletives thrown in for emphasis.