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The day after students spoke with University President Peter Salovey in a closed-door meeting and publicly questioned Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway and Silliman College Master Nicholas Christakis about the racially charged events of the past week, all three have sent out mass messages addressing the recent controversies and outlining future steps.
Holloway’s Friday morning email directly addressed the two controversies that have rocked campus since last Friday — an alleged “white girls only” party at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and an email written by Silliman Associate Master Erika Christakis pushing back against the Intercultural Affairs Council asking students to be thoughtful about the cultural implications of their costumes. Holloway not only said he takes seriously the allegations against SAE and is in the midst of investigating the incident, but also that he supports the content of the IAC’s email.
“Let me be unambiguous, I am fully in support of the email message that went out from the IAC to the Yale community,” he wrote. “I understand that some, maybe many of you, found the tone off-putting or even pedantic, but the intention of the message was exactly right: we need always to be dedicated to fashioning a community that is mindful of the many traditions that make us who we are.”
Holloway said he absorbed the words and emotions shared with him on Cross Campus yesterday when roughly two hundred students questioned his and the administration’s lack of action. After the gathering, student leaders met with Holloway and Salovey to express their pain and disappointment with the University.
Salovey said in an email to the Yale College community Friday evening that the meeting left him deeply troubled, adding that he would announce at least some policy response by Thanksgiving.
“The students last night made many thoughtful and constructive suggestions. Some of these we can implement right away or begin planning for immediately,” he said. “The leadership of Yale College and the university are working on next steps. You will hear from me again before Thanksgiving about some of these actions.”
Both Salovey and Holloway emphasized that all students are valued members of the Yale community, and Holloway acknowledged the concerns of those who believe he took too long to respond to the events of the past week.
In a separate email addressed to the Silliman community this afternoon, which was jointly signed by Nicholas and Erika Christakis, the couple wrote that the original email Erika Christakis sent did not acknowledge how extraordinarily hard it is to be a person of color at Yale.
“We understand that it was hurtful to you, and we are truly sorry,” Friday’s email read. “We understand that many students feel voiceless in diverse ways and we want you to know that we hear you and we will support you.”
However, they did reiterate that they thought Erika Christakis’ email was well-intended and added that the “tremendous expression at Yale this week” has proved their conviction in the personal agency of students.
In the email, Nicholas and Erika Christakis stressed that they remain committed to every student in the Silliman community and extended an invitation to all Silliman students for lunch this Sunday to discuss their concerns and views on the issues of free speech and related campus events.
Correction, Nov. 7: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Nicholas Christakis was the author of an email sent to the Silliman community on Friday. In fact, Nicholas and Erika Christakis jointly signed the email.