Crammed into pews and lined up against the walls, members of the Yale community filled Battell Chapel past its 1,100-person capacity on Wednesday evening for “A Moment of Crisis: Race at Yale Teach-In,” a forum dedicated to educating the community about the issues faced by people of color at Yale.

The teach-in, which followed more than a week of open forums, discussions and rallies in response to racial controversies on campus, was organized by the University’s four cultural centers: the Afro-American Cultural Center, the Native American Cultural Center, the Asian American Cultural Center and La Casa Cultural. It was originally scheduled to take place at the Af-Am House, but due to the high unexpected turnout, was moved to Battell. The three-hour event was primarily composed of four panels — each featuring different students, professors and professionals — which discussed topics that included valuing women of color at Yale, mental health and its impacts on communities of color, addressing white and male privilege and the importance of taking ethnic studies classes. During the forum, panelists not only shared their experiences regarding race, but also recommended many concrete courses of actions for both students and administrators.

At the end of the teach-in, recognizing that racial struggles are not unique to Yale, the event’s organizers invited a student at the University of Missouri to speak over the phone. The student, Ayanna Poole, is a founder of the Concerned Student 1950 organization, which has figured prominently in the school’s own fight against racism in recent weeks and pressured President Timothy Wolfe to step down on Monday.

“It was important to not only educate the larger Yale community about issues people of color face, but [also to discuss] how we can be more strategic in addressing these issues,” said Nicole Tinson DIV ’16, one of the teach-in’s organizers and moderators. “This is not an overnight process, but organizing this teach-in was a great first step.”

The forum centered around four panels that each focused on a different topic, but it opened with two spoken word poems performed by black female students. The first highlighted the lack of support that black men offer their female counterparts. Both poems brought audience members to their feet in a standing ovation. University President Peter Salovey and Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway both attended the teach-in.

In the first discussion, which was about women of color, panelists, including African American Studies professor Vanessa Agard-Jones ’00, spoke about the intersectionality of black women’s fights for equality, as their identities are not encompassed entirely by either the civil rights movement — which is dominated by black men — or the feminist movement — which is dominated by white women. They also spoke about their personal experiences with racism, both on and off campus. They asked everyone to learn about black women’s history and culture and to be mindful of microaggressions.

In the panel about white and male privilege, the panelists, who included white men and men of color, shared their experiences with understanding systemic racism. Some admitted that they had been blind to issues of systemic racism growing up, while others urged white men to acknowledge and understand that they are products of the structure of white privilege.

The third panel focused on the issues of mental health, microaggressions and their impacts on communities of color on campus. The panel included Berkeley College Master Marvin Chun and a professional mental health counselor. Chun compared being different to carrying a backpack while running at the same pace as everyone else. He also admitted that the University has failed to protect its students from threats and inaccurate media portrayals, especially in the last week, and needs to restore students’ trust. Panelists also reiterated many students’ calls for a diverse mental health staff, noting that people of color need counselors who understand their specific experiences.

During the final panel, students and faculty involved with ethnic studies on campus spoke about its pedagogical importance as a way for people to understand others who come from different backgrounds. Speakers called on the administration to reform the structure of ethnic studies programs at Yale, such as the Ethnicity, Race and Migration Program — which currently is not a full-fledged department and as such is not able to hire its own faculty members.

“Many Yale students graduate without ever thinking about taking an ethnic studies class, and the panel brought that into question,” Alex Zhang ’18, a speaker during the ethnic studies forum, told the News. “Why do national media outlets cover issues influenced by race, day in and day out, while students are never taught a language with which to analyze these issues? We forced the audience to think about these things.”

Attendees interviewed said the teach-in’s informational and educational mission was the main reason they attended.

“I want to make sure that I’m moving towards the informed camp and moving myself away from the ignorant camp,” Molly Zeff ’07 SOM ’16 said. “This is a fight that’s only going to be possible if the people who most benefit from systemic racism, which include myself, are fully aware of the people who most suffer from systemic racism.”

Mojique Tyler ’19 expressed similar sentiments, adding that he could not sit idly by while his community is experiencing problems and challenges. In particular, Tyler said he needs to support women of color. Describing himself as a black, atheist, agender and Jewish individual with one parent who is white, Tyler also said the struggle of identity that the forum touched upon was relevant to his own experiences.

Many said they left the teach-in more knowledgeable and appreciative of the experiences of their fellow students of color.

Olivia Pascal ’18 said she especially enjoyed the mental health and ethnic studies forums. Although mental health has been at the center of many discussions on campus, she said, the community rarely considers how a diverse staff in the mental health services offered on campus would make it better for students of color facing cultural- and ethnic-specific issues. The ethnic studies forum also taught her why it is important for people who have been “steeped in white culture” to take ethnic studies and understand the culture of fellow students at Yale, Pascal added.

“I think the teach-in was transformative. The unprecedented number of people there revealed what is ultimately at stake: love, hope, community,” Zhang said. “It showed President Salovey and Dean Holloway that student activism is a force to be taken seriously, that faculty and administrators are standing behind students in support, that there are things worth listening to that have been ignored for far too long.”

Both Salovey and Holloway lingered in Battell Chapel after the event ended to converse with organizers and attendees.

“I want to hear the voices of our students and our faculty on these issues. I think they’re critical, especially for making Yale a better place,” Salovey told the News, adding that these diverse voices are critical to Yale’s educational mission. “I think there are so many voices that can be inspiring to the Yale community that we don’t hear regularly, either because they aren’t listened to or because they’re speaking from the margins, and I think it’s very much time to place them in the center. That’s the biggest takeaway for me today.”

Battell Chapel is Yale’s largest chapel and serves as a space for Sunday services of the University Church in Yale.

Correction, Thursday, Nov. 12: A previous version of this article truncated a quotation from University President Peter Salovey. 

  • AnnMAltman

    I applaud the organizers of this teach-in and those who attended. I wonder whether those who did not attend feel that they have nothing to learn from such events. Full engagement by all members of the campus community, and in particular by those in positions of authority, is essential if the problems on campus are to be addressed and, perhaps in some cases, even resolved. All students should feel safe and welcome at Yale – if they do not, Yale has failed them. Ann M. Körner (Ph.D. MB&B 1974)

    • FergusReturns

      “I wonder whether those who did not attend feel that they have nothing to learn from such events.”

      I wonder if they’re right, and suspect the answer is “probably”.

      • CentralJerseyMom

        Don’t worry. Mandatory re-education struggle will be coming soon to a university near you thanks to your local Red Guard brigade.. Oh wait — it already has.

    • jeburke

      They are welcome, by definition, since they have been accepted. And they live in one of the safest places on planet earth. The only people who have something to fear on Yale’s campus today are faculty and students critical of these radical protests who have been forced to shut up. But then shutting them up is the whole point.

      • Sarita La Cubanita

        It’s the only point, in fact.

    • dzmlsience

      What problems on campus? Ann, what are you talking about?

    • disqus_fvLIBK8ktD

      “All students should feel safe and welcome at Yale–if they do not, Yale has failed them.” How about the students who, after attending the Buckley conference on free speech this past Friday, were spat on and, in the case of a minority attendee, called a race traitor?

  • Guy

    Want to stop race issues? Stop fetishizing race: “People of color,” “black, atheist, agender and Jewish individual with one parent who is white,” “microaggressions”…

    You imbeciles are OBSESSED. And sadly, you don’t even realize it.

  • theantiyale

    Yale’s Teach-in on Race ? Music to my antique ears.
    Paul Keane
    M. Div., ’80

    See Ithaca at link

  • Phil Ostrand

    Do these same students ever stop to think that their actions can be taken as micro-aggressions against other students? Do liberal students make Yale a safe and welcoming place for conservatives? These students actions only flow towards the most left wing ideologies, and their own words show their prejudice against those who hold differing viewpoints. BTW kids, where do you think that $24.9 billion endowment came from? Why do you take dollars for your education from people who are so obviously bigoted? Isn’t that hypocritical of you?

    • Tim Steele

      some very good points here. Can anyone show me a list of groups the “authorities” have anointed as the marginalized ones at Yale? Blacks (can I use that word or is only “African-American” acceptable?), hispanics, jews, muslims? What about conservatives? I’m sure members of the Buckley group have experienced their share of micro aggressions or whatever the PC crowd calls it nowadays, yet I don’t hear them whining about it.

    • Vancouverois

      “Micro”-aggressions? Screaming obscenities and spitting on people count as “macro”-agressions, in my book.

  • river_tam

    Intersectionality is the enemy of diversity.

    • Debbie

      Disregard my up-vote if you weren’t mocking the pomo-babble but being serious.

      Academia has become so self-parodying that it’s hard to tell the difference sometimes!

  • theantiyale

    The “teach-in” is the unique strategy of 1960’s activists, a real contribution to intellectual debate over shouting at each other. Glad to hear it is alive and well at Yale.

    • ThomasA

      That really depends on what is being taught, doesn’t it?

  • Tj

    It’s pretty sad that you can’t talk about race these days without bringing original sin into it.

  • Debbie

    “A Moment of Crisis”

    Some privileged children of wealth in desperate search of victimhood have convinced themselves that they are experiencing emotional distress! Oh no!

    Call 911! Bring in a “crisis” management team! Declare a state of emergency! Call for blood donations! Scramble the jets! Convene Congressional hearings!

    • neon john

      Getting very tired of “children of privilege.” Sarcastic words uttered by angry resentful people who haven’t got a clue. Indeed, some students at Yale are wealthy, big-names, such as BUSH, etc. But I know very well that the vast majority do not come from wealthy backgrounds. These are students whose “privilege” is that they were smart and motivated, but much more than that, worked like absolute maniacs during school years: worked much harder than 98% of the adults who deride them as living charmed easy lives! And schools like Yale where academic expectations are off the map, are absolute pressure cookers. Throw on top of that some obnoxious suburban wealthy GENUINE “child of privilege” insulting a young woman who killed herself to get there, multiply that 1,000x, and there should be no surprise at the result.

      As far as the screaming outrage girl, I feel bad for her. She got emotional and totally out of control. She might well be a very sweet kid otherwise. Maybe not. I don’t know. But if it wasn’t for You Tube and the right wing screaming outrage media, it would be a non-story. Of course, NONE of us adults and non-Yale kids EVER did anything emotional that they regretted at 19, 20, or 21! Nope, we NEVER had a meltdown at that age. It just those “privileged kids,” most of whom work harder than any 10 hard working people I know.

      Racial and womens’ issues at Yale and other schools are very real. The students may not be going about it the right way, or seeking the appropriate ends. I personally don’t think they are. But there are real problems. Simply mocking and degrading kids because of our own frustrations and resentments makes US look like 20 year olds.

      • Debbie

        Here’s a trigger warning for fragile flowers who worry about safe-spaces and micro-aggression and for people who are getting very tired of such people being mocked:


        The identity of tantrum girl isn’t a secret. Like the hunger-striking student in Missouri who is the son of a wealthy railroad executive and so many revolutionaries and wannabe revolutionaries who came before her, she is a spoiled child of privilege driven by privilege-guilt to seek victimhood and street cred. “Racial and womens’ issues at Yale” are so dire that the poor dear had to settle for going all drama queen over a suggestion that she shouldn’t be traumatized by a hypothetical Halloween costume.

        It must be nice for these children of privilege to have time to get an education (if victimology studies and “social justice warrior” training in the Ivy League count as that) and to worry and have tantrums over Halloween costume hypotheticals. I barely had time for class and study when I had to work full time to get through college back in the day (double full time in the summer).

      • Vancouverois

        “As far as the screaming outrage girl, I feel bad for her. She got
        emotional and totally out of control. She might well be a very sweet kid

        If so, then obviously she should do the responsible and adult thing, and offer a public apology to Christakis and the Yale community for her shameful behaviour.

  • FergusReturns

    “Many Yale students graduate without ever thinking about taking an ethnic studies class”

    Yeah. That’s because they’re paying a lot of money to get a good education, and they want to be employable when they graduate.

    • ldffly

      It’s not lack of utility to employers, it’s the near total lack of academic merit in these programs that makes participation in them questionable. Challenge somebody to describe the body of knowledge these programs represent and advance. Nobody wants to engage in that discussion these days.

      • Bob

        Ethnic and women’s and gender studies courses exist to indoctrinate students, not to educate them. Nobody should be forced to take them.

  • Allen Starr

    These universities are churning out crazed cult members who have declared war on free speech.

  • Ragnar Santorum

    They need to put a stop to privilege-shaming. Micro-aggressions against my privilege are not appreciated and marginalize my experiences as a person.

  • Trofim

    When Galileo told his opponents that the earth goes round the sun, he didn’t half make them feel unsafe. Ditto Darwin, Freud and so on.
    BTW, I never cease reminding people that I – with my heritage of Anglo-Saxon and Norse genes – am a person of colour – pinkish colour.

  • MarineAssassin

    It seems that the only people who have a problem with color are “people of color”. These people see themselves as black or brown people, while other black or brown people simply see themselves as people. The distinction between the two groups is that the former seek pity and understanding in their victimhood, while the latter get on with their lives which, in the case of being students at Yale, means getting a first class education and learning the skills that make them valued and productive members of society. And here I thought all along that Yale was a place for winners. Sadly, it seems that it has become a place for whiners. If that is the case, then Yale would be well advised to have these whiners consider transferring to a less demanding college environment.

    • Jawaralal_Schwartz

      like, er, Princeton?

  • yale college student

    This teach-in was a precedent setting opportunity for the entire Yale community, specifically Yale College students to gather and engage together. I think it was very important to sit and listen, and listen closely to the experiences of black women at Yale who I do not understand. As the primary impetus behind this movement, it was important for the rest of the community, especially those who benefit from specifically white male privilege, to give them space to be heard.

    It should be recognized that this forum was the beginning of a movement, not the solution. There are many other people of color who are still NOT being heard, and they must also be included in the conversation, both by voicing their experiences and being able to engage in dialogue with other demographics experiences. It also needs to be recognized that yes, minorities are also racist against each other, stop vilifying white people. I understand the need to make minorities the focus of the forum, but we must also include white people.

    Also we need to stop using the word safe space as it is not functional. Space free of racism? free from discrimination? With a limited spotlight, I think it is important for some to back off and listen to others. However, all must be integrated back into the dialogue for a TRULY inclusive environment allowing free speech.

    • Debbie

      There are many other people of color who are still NOT being heard, “

      That sounds awful. What does it mean?

      Are they ignored by people of no color when they try to contribute to class discussions?

      Are people of no color outside the classroom insufficiently attentive when they explain how hard it is to be them? Maybe tantrum girl can give them shrieking pointers.

      It must be nice for these children of privilege to have time to get an education and to worry about Halloween costume hypotheticals and being heard. Me and my color did the work-your-way-through-college thing way back when, and I barely had enough time for the education.

    • Stanley1

      “It should be recognized that this forum was the beginning of a movement …”
      Would that be a bowel movement?

  • jeburke

    The only people who have reason to feel unsafe, unincluded and uncomfortable on Yale’s campus today are all those students and faculty who dare not utter a word of criticism of this appalling nonsense for fear of winding up in front of some kangaroo court. As for YDN, this slavishly unquestioning account of various complaints is the opposite of what journalism should be in a free society (though good practice for Pravda). One wonders whether any of the protesting students, with their obsession about subjective “microaggressions” and bottomless need for external affirmations of their pet peeves, makes them look pathetic.

    • Jawaralal_Schwartz

      My fave: the condition that “no last names” be used at major events during the controversy. Now, that shows a slice of humanity on campus who really act as if they have something to lose. But….nope. That hardly hides the stench of entitlement and the avoidance of conflict and the hyper attention to appearances and to every last syllable uttered. As smarter observers than I have noted: universities are not supposed to be “safe spaces” like a fire station. They have to let the world into their spaces. That is how we learn to understand each other and to get along.

  • cbsjr42

    I dread to think what is going to happen to these poor children when they leave the cocoon of the nanny school and have to face not only micro aggressions but the macro aggressions that normal people of all colors face every day. Hope their mama’s are around to wipe the tears.

  • Barzini

    Non Jewish white people account for under 30% of Ivy League students, despite accounting for almost 70% of the population……

  • DavidL

    “The panel included Berkeley College Master Marvin Chun and a professional mental health counselor. Chun compared being different to carrying a backpack while running at the same pace as everyone else. ”

    A daily event in the Marines and the U.S. Army.

  • Kodi Alvord

    To everyone making ignorant claims or attacking the integrity of my peers who are working tirelessly to improve campus climate and make it the place it was advertised to be, at least post under your own name. If you’re going to make fools
    of yourselves, at least own it.

    • Trofim

      What’s “campus climate”?

      • dzmlsience

        The temperature and barometric pressure on campus. This has also now been determined to be racist. Carry on.

    • Elliewho

      Will you you advocate for “Shrieking Girl” to “own” her words too?

    • Bob

      The purpose of Critical Race Theory (or identity politics) isn’t to unite disparate groups, it’s to Balkanize them. Throw in a dash of infantilization via students’ constant clamoring for “safe spaces” to merely function and the result is your peers tirelessly wasting their time, if it really is their intent to improve campus climate.

      • John Muir


    • Debbie

      People on college campuses obviously have reason to be concerned about becoming targets of harassment by mobs if they express thoughts that deviate from currently acceptable progressive orthodoxies.

      If you dispute a claim that somebody has made here or feel they are unfairly attacking one of your peers, you are free to argue those points here. Not knowing the real name of someone you’re arguing with won’t reduce the effectiveness of good counter-arguments.

    • dzmlsience

      I don’t think your peers’ integrity is being attacked. It is their seemingly low intelligence and shamelessness. To the outside world, Yale is seen as an unruly pre-school. Such an injustice to your serious and hardworking classmates. I hope you can snap yourself out of this phase in time to apologize to them before graduation.

  • ShadrachSmith

    Packed house to listen to women recite poetry? I suspect class credit and SJW required attendance. That show doesn’t pack a tea room.

  • SimonNorwich

    Anyone fancy a pint?

  • Michael Raymond

    Life is tough for most of us. Try being gay in the Midwest farmlands. Try being Jewish in small town Alabama. Overweight. Unattractive. Uncoordinated. Handicapped. A stutterer. Low IQ. An ex-con. There are hurdles for most people of one kind or another. The test of a person’s character is not how to manipulate society to take pity; it’s how each one of us takes his or her condition in life and overcomes the hurdles before us. We are all aware of the injustices in our society, but we cannot force injustice away. We can, however, try harder every day to be kinder and better than we were the day before and model that for others to follow.

    • Kerryman

      Michael Raymond,
      You forgot one aggrieved group: the Irish. The Irish, along with the obese, are the only ones who it is alright to say insulting, insensitive things about and no candlelight vigil or demonstration is held to protest or show solidarity for the Irish or the obese. The still, apparently, acceptable slur against the Irish is about alcohol. It is frequently seen around the March 17 celebrations of St. Patrick’s day. However, throughout the year there will be references to the Irish and alcohol abuse. And let’s not forget the “paddy wagon”, either. That’s the police vehicle that transports those arrested for criminal acts. It is often referred to as a “paddy wagon.” This term is offensive and was intended to belittle the Irish. Where is the outrage over what the Irish have had to endure? I won’t even mention the hundreds of year of subjugation and privation and starvation under British rule. Please consider that Irishmen and women were taken by slave traders to ports in Africa and around Europe long before the slave trade involving black Africans. The brutality of the Irish Famine has been well documented, but is unknown to the majority of Americans. No Irishman was allowed on New Haven green until 1860 and the “no Irish need apply” signs kept them out many jobs and was a cause of poverty and isolation. The list goes on. So, when it comes to a history of abuse and deprivation, the story of the Irish is one of the worst. Let the demonstrations begin! Fill up Battell Chapel to show understanding and solidarity for the issues that continue to allow the Irish to be the butt of so much disrespect and ridicule. I call on all Yale students to speak out against this great injustice.

      • CentralJerseyMom

        Éirinn go Brách! Tiocfaidh ár lá! Where do we meet?

        • Kerryman

          Cahersiveen. But let me check with my wife.

      • dcomplex

        There were no “no irish need apply” signs in the United States. It’s an apocryphal story based on real signs that did exist in Britain. Irish in the US were mainly discriminated against because they were the first large wave of almost-uniformly Catholic immigrants.

        • Kerryman

          Wrong. In order to educate yourself in this matter, please refer to the Irish Central website article by Casey Egan of October 2, 2015 entitled “High Schooler Proves “No Irish Need Apply” Signs Existed Despite Denials” which was originally publisher in the Oxford Journal of Social History. Your view is, clearly, the apocryphal one. Any questions?

  • ydnreader

    Why does the phrase “people of color” signal that the speaker is oh-so-enlightened and progressive, while uttering “colored people” marks someone as backward and ignorant?

    Am I missing something?

  • CentralJerseyMom

    ““This is a fight that’s only going to be possible if
    the people who most benefit from systemic racism, which include myself,
    are fully aware of the people who most suffer from systemic racism.””

    Unfortunately, none of the people who most suffer from systemic racism could attend since they were cleaning these people’s bathrooms at the time.

  • jeburke

    Whoever controls the YDN comment board deleted a comment I posted a few hours ago critical of the “protesters” and more particularly of the YDN’s laughably obsequious and unedifying “news story” about the Battell complaint fest. If anyone at Yale is still learning anything, he or she will notice the crypto-fascist impulses that permit no reply or disagreement, not to mention how closely today’s campus disruptions resemble Red Guard public humiliations of revisionists, deviationists, reactionaries, bourgious reformers, and simply all those with insufficient class consciousness.

    • annette

      Yes…the YDN is an embarrassment to media….even Fox News.

  • marcedward

    If this piece had shown some brevity I’d have been convinced I was reading the Onion, or perhaps some unbelievable satire from Rush Limbaugh. “Diversity” seems to be all about attacking white people based on the color of their skin. Yale has become the Kim Kardashian of schools.

  • Jawaralal_Schwartz

    Article was well organized, but wooden, as if the activists had written it for the YDN.
    One impression: the student body is trying, with little success, to mimic the zeal and energy of their parents–I should say grandparents–in the Sixties (and definitely not at pro-war Yale). They are not ringing the bell. They are too comfortable and exude entitlement. The matters at issue are definitely of very high importance, but the current generation of students is hardly going to jeopardize anything, like that law or grad school application, or the ability to eventually get, ya know, a Yale grad type of job. They have nothing to risk and seem to be staging and play acting a bit much. The wooden reporting by this newspaper enhances the faux aura and appearance of a lot of the zeal and energy. I am disappointed in Yale.

    • annette

      Yes….hopefully donors feel the same way.

  • Tim Steele

    Minority students at Yale complaining about white privilege? Oh the irony… I’m sure there are plenty of “privileged” white students around the country who wish they had been lucky enough to be admitted to Yale…

    • mxm123

      Does that include legacies and donors’ kids ?

  • Jon

    A terrible, fawning article that is more of an opinion piece, although poorly written. How many of the students speaking and attending the teach in will end up as investment bankers, management consultants and big firm lawyers who do actual harm to many, many people by perpetuating concentrations of wealth and political power? I’d say, a lot.

    • dzmlsience

      Wait, what??? Investment bankers, management consultants and lawyers do what? Have a look at what “community organizers” and career politicians are capable of and get back to us.

  • Rita

    Normal, decent people of even average intelligence call this an “incestuous circle wank”.

  • UpstateTaxpayer

    Yale students might benefit from understanding the rest of the country sees them as a bunch of spoiled brats. You don’t demand respect and get it. You earn it. None of these ingrates seems to want to work for it. In 1941 Yale undergrads left school to enlist in the war effort. Now they’re afraid of Halloween costumes. What a bunch of whiny crybabies. As for being smart, in my business I’ve never gotten a resume from someone taking courses in Gender Studies or any of the other pseudo-academic-nonsense topics, but if I ever do it will go straight into the trash.

  • HarborBeach

    This is pathetic! Talked about “microaggressions??” C’mon, people. Wake up!!

  • Davis

    When I was in Ugrad I used to love going to this stuff and then reading about how the college “newspaper” portrayed it the next day. Without fail it would always leave out that 99% of the people who were there had a stake in it. No different here.
    But what I really want to know about is the ethnic studies classes. Would these be mandatory for the students? Probably, and it’d be the only core requirement where course credit is determined on your race and the indignant level of the professor.