That the American university is in crisis is a statement that now commands wide agreement.

What are students complaining about? That Yale and other elite universities are mired in outdated conventions and ideas, which exclude and discomfit students who don’t “fit the mold.” For conservatives, and even for many moderates, these claims are mysterious: There are few institutions in American life that are so utterly beholden to the left and its principal tenets. But that doesn’t seem to impress the radicals. And so what happens is that students’ particularized grievances — an “insensitive” administrative email, perhaps, or an alleged “white girls only” party or, at Mizzou, a “poop swastika” drawn in a public bathroom — are transformed into abstract condemnations of entire schools. A university’s “racial climate” — which can include anything and everything about it — is deemed insufficiently “sensitive” or “inclusive.”

Of course, nebulous accusations that an entire institution is “insensitive” are nearly unfalsifiable, especially when these charges are ultimately grounded in feelings or, as the phrase goes today, students’ “lived experiences.” Indeed, it sometimes seems that the unfalsifiable nature of so many of these muzzy claims is quite deliberate. It is virtually impossible to quarrel with feelings. Muddled language makes for muddled minds, and muddled minds make for easy, unanswerable indictments.

Our administrators, who ought to act with prudence and foresight, appear helpless in the face of these indictments. Consider President Salovey’s email to the Yale community this week. Without any fight or pushback — indeed, with no thoughts as to burdens versus benefits — he capitulated in most respects to the demands of a small faction of theatrically aggrieved students. Within his prolix “letter to the community,” there was but one good idea: a reduction in the student income contribution, which rather ought to be done away with entirely and replaced with something like the law school’s career options assistance program.

Aside from this, three main proposals stand out: the further funneling of resources toward the “intellectually ambitious and important fields” of race, ethnicity, gender, inequality and inclusion; the doubling of cultural house funding; and mandatory diversity training for faculty and staff, as well as new orientation programs that “explore diversity and inclusion.”

These are all bad ideas, for many reasons. But if President Salovey sees any downsides, one would never know it from his message. The only hint of reservation that can be found in Salovey’s email is his brief assurance that our commitment to eradicating racism and discrimination in no way “conflicts with our commitment to free speech.” Although one would hope that this assurance is valid, it is also largely beside the point.

What is wrong with Salovey’s plan for Yale, and the direction in which he is taking our fine university? The diversity behemoth is an enormous waste of academic time and energy. The cultural houses arguably contribute to campus-wide racial balkanization at least as much as they diminish it. Mandatory diversity training presents a grave threat to intellectual honesty and rigorous inquiry, because it assumes the truth of propositions that must ultimately be tested by empirical study. The proliferation of hyper-ideological “studies” majors takes us further, as Glenn Loury put it, “onto a slippery slope that slides down into intellectual mediocrity.” The growing amount of time Yale students spend thinking about racial injustice is taken away from acquiring useful analytic skills and concrete knowledge in a broad range of subjects vital to our world’s future, and from learning to think carefully, rigorously and quantitatively, including about race and social inequality. These shortcomings have little to do with threats to free speech.

The true crisis of the American university is one of cowardice and craven capitulation. If free speech is to have meaning, people must have the courage to speak. My suspicion is that many students and faculty agree with at least some, if not most, of these assertions. Yet few dare to say so. And even fewer will argue for their merits.

That refusal to speak up is unfortunate. Campus radicals see themselves as moral crusaders, as champions of a secular “social justice” creed. They are not nihilistic relativists without a point of view. Rather, they want the university’s authorities to accede to their vision, to accept their point of view and their grievances without resistance. But that presents the university with a true “teachable moment” — to show our so-called activists, gently but firmly, why their view of reality, of the university’s role and of what’s best for society’s future, is shallow, hollow and misguided.

H. L. Mencken once said that democracy tends to degenerate into a “mere combat of crazes.” He might just as well have said the same about the modern American university.

Do those who run Yale care to prove him wrong?

Isaac Cohen is a senior in Davenport College. Contact him at isaac.n.cohen@yale.edu .

  • Politico16

    “My suspicion is that many students and faculty agree with at least some, if not most, of these assertions. Yet few dare to say so. And even fewer will argue for their merits.” This is absolutely right, because anyone who makes this case on the merits will inevitably be called a racist, a bigot, etc. Moreover, their antagonists won’t even engage their arguments; they see debate as beneath the sanctity of their cause.

    Mr. Cohen is right to say that Next Yale wants a victory “without resistance.” But that’s not how democracy works. Especially at our universities, we should embrace the principles of debate and discourse; we should defend our beliefs through reasons and try to convince others through rational persuasion. Most of all, we should be charitable to those with whom we disagree, steel-manning rather than straw-manning them. If we could do that, we could truly create a “better Yale.”

    • neon john

      “Mr. Cohen is right to say that Next Yale wants a victory without resistance. But that’s not how democracy works.”

      Our ideological “no compromise” conservatives in Congress could take a lesson from this statement.

  • germ_16

    Excellently written, and his point was made very effectively without using all the pointless language like “fascism” and “snowflakes”, etc. This rational side of the argument has to stand up and call out these activists and not be afraid of being called a racist. We are the ones that give the label “racist” power, and you need to show that their labels have no power over you. These activists are merely paper tigers, and I think it’s time we turned the page.

  • Bob

    Clap…………..clap…………clap……..clap……..clap……..clap……clap……clap….clap….clap…clap…clap…clap..clap..clap..clap..clap..clap.clap.clap.clap.clapclapclapclapclapclapclapclapclapclapclapclapclapclapclapclap!!!!

  • bwayjunction

    Dude, you nailed it.

  • TB

    Great article. These protesters are not interested in equal rights. They want special rights.

  • Hubert_the_Infant

    As an alumnus (and fellow Davenporter) amazed at what has been going on at Yale, I cannot thank you enough for writing this.

  • Saybro2016

    “Of course, nebulous accusations that an entire institution is ‘insensitive’ are nearly unfalsifiable, especially when these charges are ultimately grounded in feelings or, as the phrase goes today, students’ ‘lived experiences.'”

    If you’re going to write an article at least do your research. You very clearly didn’t go to a single rally. Otherwise, you would have heard many REAL experiences, ACTUAL threats of violence, etc. and not these “nebulous” and “theoretical claims” you claim these students are making.

    Also, what do you think people don’t have the courage to say now that the ~big bad minority students~ are speaking up? It sounds a lot like you’re worried that white people won’t be allowed to be blatantly racist or misogynistic anymore.

    • Moi

      Could you please recount some of these “REAL experiences.” Many of us have been asking and asking for specific examples but have heard nothing but crickets.

    • germ_16

      How are we supposed to take action on personal anecdotes about vague instances of micro-aggressions or utterances of racial slurs? What are we supposed to do in response? We can’t control what individuals might do, and people are going to be racist if they’re racist. We can’t legislate racism out of people’s hearts. What if I told you that black people marched in the library and told me that I’m a horrible person because I’m white and now I’m hurting? Why do you think your pain trumps mine? Because I might be part of the white supremacy? See how the narrative conveniently does away with criticisms?

      “Why do white people always make it about themselves?” I know all the responses before you even say them. I have listened, I simply disagree with your narrative, and since you cannot convince me or and the majority of the US population, why should we change anything? You don’t want to debate honestly, you don’t respect our opinion, why should we respect yours?

    • Ralphiec88

      Instead of throwing the bogus “disagreement is fear” card yet again, how about providing just one example of institutional racism at Yale here?

      • Kerryman

        See above.

        • Ralphiec88

          Above where? There’s nothing there. Is it really that difficult to state one example? Of course it is. If there was really anything there, there wouldn’t be a need for pages of wandering prose, you could lay out a strong case in a few sentences.

    • yaleyeah

      The accusation was against the institution of Yale — not careless or hurtful comments by students. Next Yale has accused YALE of being systemically racist. This is where the line was crossed, and unless Next Yale can prove their accusations, they should apologize.

    • Kerryman

      Blatantly racist? Actual threats of violence? Prove these claims? Actual proof. Names, dates, locations along with reciprocity for the accused. Time to put up or shut. Seriously. If the claims are legit, the fair-minded must stand with the victims. If the decision is made to not cite what the facts are around the alleged offenses, then please shut up and hit the books. The standard ought to be if you claim blatant racism has occurred and/or threats of violence have been received it must be accompanied by the facts. No nebulous claims or scattershot accusations. Intellectual honesty and good race relations demand nothing less.

    • Ralphiec88

      What, not a single example?

  • Jason Zhou

    awesome article. navel gazing about victimization status should not be blown up to be a major branch of scholarship.

    • dzmlsience

      It’s already much bigger than simply a branch of scholarship, Jason. Are there separate DEANS dedicated of Mathematics or English? Are there cultural centers erected for History or Psychology? Does the university have hiring targets for Economics faculty? Have you ever heard healthcare workers being specially trained in Physics or Philosophy?

      No, the race / gender victimization agenda is far bigger than any academic discipline and obviously much bigger than any college president.

    • dzmlsience

      It is already much bigger than simply a branch of scholarship, Jason Zhou. Are there separate DEANS dedicated of Mathematics or English? Are there cultural centers erected for History or Psychology? Does the university have hiring targets for Economics faculty? Have you ever heard healthcare workers being specially trained in Physics or Philosophy?

      No, the race / gender victimization agenda is far bigger than any academic discipline and obviously much bigger than any college president.

  • Publius

    Maybe Yale can spend some of that outrageous sum they’re about to spend on a new major: Victim Studies

  • Veronica

    this student hasn’t learned anything from the last few weeks … and I am disgusted that this is his analysis after seeing peers pour their hearts into a racial justice movement

    • Barzini

      Can you give some examples of racial injustice at Yale?

      • Veronica

        read anything written by organizers

    • dzmlsience

      Disgust.

      Well played.

      Your move, Mr. Cohen. Good luck topping that.

    • steve5656546346

      You don’t go to college to pour your heart, but to develop your mind. Emotions are good, but only if guided and controlled by the intellect.

    • Jay

      are you being sarcastic?

    • Kerryman

      The specious contention that there is racial injustice at Yale is also ludicrous. Administrators have bent over backward for any and all claims by minority students. To due otherwise would make them the brunt of claims of racism and even put their jobs in real jeopardy. To not recognize this is to choose to live in unreality.

    • Pearlbuck

      Oh… are you what they mean by “troll”?

    • Joseph Smith

      Then that makes you a racist.

    • Bob

      To be fair, the “racial justice movement” has done a piss-poor-job of describing any racist issues on campus besides micro-aggressions and individual problems with the feelz.

    • Ralphiec88

      Hearts perhaps, but heads, rarely.

  • Pitmaster

    Extremely well put. Very nice to see that at least some Yalies can still put together a well-articulated and logical bit of writing. Please keep it up.

    Incidentally — has there been any explanation as to where all the $ to fund these diversity initiatives is supposed to come from? I doubt they were budgeted. Just watch — they’ll take it from things like the orchestra and athletic programs, thereby killing two birds at the same time by defunding activities where students succeed on objective merit (bad! bad!) and funnel the money into those that do exactly the opposite.

    • dzmlsience

      That’s probably the unreported story here, Pitmaster. Who loses this time? Will the YDN follow the money trail? Maybe Yale has it’s own money printing press in the basement of Beinecke?

      In addition to athletics and the arts, my bet is the families of Yale students will be footing the bill for this one. The debt that students are paying off 25 years from now will be a sour reminder of this sordid chapter in Yale’s history.

    • dzmlsience

      That is probably the unreported story here, Pitmaster. Who loses this time? Will the YDN follow the money trail? Maybe Yale has it’s own money printing press in the basement of Beinecke?

      In addition to athletics and the arts, my bet is the families of Yale students will be footing the bill for this one. The debt that students are paying off 25 years from now will be a sour reminder of this sordid chapter in Yale’s history.

    • Elliewho

      In 2010, Yale administrators, facing a budget shortfall, started combing through gift agreements, some centuries old, to see where they could legally siphon money off for financial aid and other expenses. Admins contended that the language of many agreements gave them the latitude to use the money for other purposes. Yale prizes, awards for excellence in fields ranging from Latin study and translation, English prizes for fiction, and senior essays in economics, are now mostly capped at $1000, where many were once substantial. I suspect that Salovey may have Yale lawyers and money managers look again at lowering prize money or perhaps even do away with the cash award altogether, leaving them merely as honorifics. After all, these prizes, which were established to recognize excellence in scholarship and single out the best students majoring in math, or the best essay in political philosophy or theory, only serve to make “marginalized” students feel bad about themselves and continue to glorify the “oppressor/white supremacists” who established said prizes. Yeah…sad state of affairs.

      http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2010/03/29/details-of-prizes-cap-still-evolving/

  • Nicky L

    Imagine this: You are a TA hosting a section, and a student showed up without completing any of the reading. Instead, they demanded that you explain everything to them, and then proceeded to argue with you that you didn’t provide any “facts” from the reading. They continue to disparage your understanding of the reading, saying that you don’t understand how to teach. When you push back that they should have done the reading if they wanted to debate its content, they attack you for creating a “hostile” environment where they can’t express their self.

    You are the student in this instance. Rather that seek out, read & understand the points made by protesters, you have chosen to demonize and patronize them through your own ignorance.

    Did the University capitulate to people of color when it started admitting them? Did the University capitulate to women when it started addressing sexual assault (albeit due to federal mandate)? No. The University acknowledged that refusing to act in these instances of injustice required action. The University acknowledged that centuries of discrimination did not undo a few decades of comparable better (but still bad) behavior, and they addressed it through strategic investments, intentional representation and inclusion on campus, and cultural shifts promoted through trainings and educational endeavors.

    Don’t confuse the University’s departure from first and foremost protecting YOUR rights as a white male at the expense of students of color and women with a departure from free speech generally. It’s not that they don’t want you to have free speech — they just ALSO want others to have free speech, and they recognize that centuries of discrimination have created an unbalanced expectation of free speech. People of color and women can’t even post online about their experiences with racism or sexism without receiving death threats — and you are upset that you no longer have a get-out-of-jail-free card when you say something racist?? That’s gross!

    • yaleyeah

      Nicky, we keep asking for concrete examples of institutional racism at Yale. Can you give us just 3? Maybe you can help us understand.

    • dzmlsience

      You go girl!

      We’re continually tantalized by the prospect of finally getting to hear about one of these fabled incidents of racism or sexism. I thought your post was going to be THE ONE! And then…… same old same old.

      You think if you share such an experience in this forum you will receive death threats? Please excuse us if we don’t quite buy that. It’s getting harder and harder to believe that anyone is ever going to present any evidence of inequity at Yale. I know 10 year olds who do a better job making a case against an injustice. My conclusion is that you guys need more 10 year olds.

    • marcedward

      Translation: you cannot refute the argument so you pull out the race card.

      FAIL

    • Comhaghn

      What an impressive strawman you constructed there. First you imagine a student doing something foolish, then you say the author is that student. But the author hasn’t done any such thing. If you want to respond to the author’s arguments and statements, dissect them one by one. Creating a fantasy allegory is the tactic of a child, and more importantly, ineffective. All you convey is that you are angry and you disagree.

    • Kerryman

      Fail.

    • bwayjunction

      “…well-articulated
      and logical bit of writing.” Not! We all have and own the First Amendment. Take it and use it. Remember the old adage:”Sticks and stones may break my bone but names will never hurt me.’ Meditate on it; breathe that adage in every day. When a person ignores your ‘lived experience, micro-aggresses you, points
      out emotions don’t trump reason and logic, don;t stomp your feet,
      reach for a Teddy and run to your safe space, just bite your
      trembling lips while thinking ‘Sticks and stones…’ and jump back
      into the fray. As a person of color, I welcome blunt conversation; I
      want people to tell me what they think, to tell me the truth exactly
      as they see it. If it includes a few death threats or put downs, so
      what. The journey to change is through the dialogue.

      • David

        By using pressure tactics, I’d say the recent complainers have gotten some of their “demands” met, but they’ve alienated many on campus and among alumni who might have had sympathy for genuine issues. It’s a bit late to start over now with dialogue. The pressure was applied, the deal was done, and people will resist attempts to negotiate it up now.

    • Moi

      Except your analogy erroneously assumes that this student is a “member” of your TA section. What if he did not sign up for the class in the first place?

      Perhaps this student was studying while the protests were going on, and did not get to hear any specific examples of the maltreatment of which you complain. Not a single article covering any of this has provided any specific examples (not including contested frat party incident and Halloween costume email), so I am not sure where he otherwise would have gotten the information. Many alumni on here who are no longer on campus and don’t have access to the “reading” (to use your analogy) keep asking for specific examples and receive none.

      In the real world, when you want to ask for something, you provide proof and back up to support your request. If you plan to one day be an employee of any institution, I guarantee going to your boss and asking for money to fund an initiative will fall flat unless you provide data to back up your request. Telling your boss it’s his responsibility to “do the reading” will get you nowhere.

      [Are Yale students really receiving death threats btw? That’s something I would like to know. I did hear that E. Christakis had to leave the city for a weekend because *she* was receiving death threats.]

    • BASTA!

      The trick is, the student here did complete all the reading. He couldn’t possibly have avoided doing so.

    • Doug

      I am still waiting for anyone to describe even one academic class, program or activity from which minority students at Yale are excluded. OK, there’s nothing like that, but then what is the other evidence of “racism” at Yale aside from scattered, individual rude remarks? If you are going to make grave charges of widespread or institutional racism at Yale (i.e., intentional discrimination by Yale against minorities), you better have your evidence all lined up, because to everyone else in the world, it all looks completely made up. In your four paragraphs, you made lots of wild accusations, but offered no proof, none, zero, zip.

    • Phil Ostrand

      Again, please provide specific examples of students at Yale being discriminated against. BTW if you post online, you are posting to the public, therefore you have given up any privacy and are now subject to the trolls of the world. If you expect protection in the public forum from them, you are sadly mistaken. Also, do you think that this student will not have received threats? Afterall, his email is public at the end of the article.

      I suggest rather than assuming privilege, you actually read what he said. And again, please provide examples in the last 15 years of Yale permitting or perpetuating an openly racist environment. If you can’t than your cause has no case.

    • Jason Zhou

      Your post has two problems:
      (1) the points the protestors are making are not complicated or hard, they are just short on substance and facts. So claiming that people who disagree with you are just ignorant is wrong. What am I ignorant about, being a minority immigrant who grew up dealing with casual racism every day in my life?
      (2) you make it sound like the student protestors are the ones getting shouted down, when every single evidence shows that the opposite is true – student protestors are given leeway to protest as much as they want, publish as much as they want, shout obscenities and even spit on people that they label racists and white oppressors. But if someone publishes an article critical of your views you think that the very act of disagreement silences you?
      Have you ever engaged in any serious self-reflection or self-critique in your life?

      • dzmlsience

        It is already much bigger than simply a branch of scholarship, Jason. Are there separate DEANS dedicated of Mathematics or English? Are there cultural centers erected for History or Psychology? Does the university have hiring targets for Economics faculty? Have you ever heard healthcare workers being specially trained in Physics or Philosophy?

        No, the race / gender victimization agenda is far bigger than any academic discipline and obviously much bigger than any college president.

    • matt10023

      I’ve read the “reading” as you put it. It’s a form of religion, based on matters of faith. So long as privilege exists, there’s racism, and racism is so pervasive that POC cannot possibly be welcome until it’s eliminated.

      That madame (with the diminutive first name) is a recipe for permanent grievances. If one is serious about how privilege blinds people to the harm they cause, then one cannot be at Yale and champion the poor, the disenfranchised. You are basking, bathing, wallowing in privilege. You also enjoy the privilege that comes with wrapping yourself in victimhood. It allows you to be free of reproach for your views. You can ask for others to be censored where you are not. You can expect special treatment just because you exist at Yale, while people die elsewhere of starvation while you ponder your pain in a multi-billion dollar institution.

      Sorry, that doesn’t cut it.

    • Ralphiec88

      But this isn’t a college course. Protesters are making claims and demands. The onus is on them to support their claims and demands. You really don’t see th circular reasoning in the notion that anyone who questions you just hasn’t done enough homework?

    • dzmlsience

      You go girl!!

      We’re continually tantalized by the prospect of finally getting to hear about one of these fabled incidents of racism or sexism. I thought your post was going to be THE ONE! And then…… same old same old.

      You think if you share such an experience in this forum you will receive death threats? Please excuse us if we don’t quite buy that. It’s getting harder and harder to believe that anyone is ever going to present any evidence of inequity at Yale. I know 10 year olds who do a better job making a case against an injustice. My conclusion is that you guys need more 10 year olds.

    • Jonny-O

      Wow, Nicky, way to respond to critiques. Mediocre intellectual.

  • AlexR

    Excellent essay. Wish more people had the guts to stand up say this.

  • REA111

    Excellent essay, Mr. Cohen. If only those in your administration had the intellectual fortitude to put these anti-intellectual fascists in their place.

  • marcedward

    Very well said. Just to add:
    “For conservatives, and even for many moderates, these claims are mysterious: ”

    Believe me many many of us on the Left feel the same way. Never in my days would I imagine people would march and scream to “feel more comfortable”. At least it’s good material for an entire season of SouthPark.

  • http://www.drbukk.com/ Nancy Albert

    It is amusing to see the leftist academia being hoisted on their own petard.

  • Carl Sagan

    One reason the Constitution is a daring and courageous document is that it allows for continuing change, even of the form of government itself, if the people so wish. Because no one is wise enough to foresee which ideas may answer urgent societal needs – even if they’re counterintuitive and have been troubling in the past – this document tries to guarantee the fullest and freest expression of views. There is, of course, a price. Most of us are for freedom of expression when there’s a danger that our own views will be suppressed. We’re not all that upset, though, when views we despise encounter a little censorship here and there. But within certain narrowly circumscribed limits – Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’s famous example was causing panic by falsely crying ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre – great liberties are permitted in America:

    • Gun collectors are free to use portraits of the Chief Justice, the Speaker of the House, or the Director of the FBI for target practice; outraged civic-minded citizens are free to burn in effigy the President of the United States.
    • Even if they mock Judaeo-Christian-Islamic values, even if they ridicule everything most of us hold dear, devil-worshippers (if there are any) are entitled to practice their religion, so long as they break no constitutionally valid law.
    • A purported scientific article or popular book asserting the ‘superiority’ of one race over another may not be censored by the government, no matter how pernicious it is; the cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
    • Individuals may, if they wish, praise the lives and politics of such undisputed mass murderers as Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong. Even detestable opinions have a right to be heard.
    • Individuals or groups are free to argue that a Jewish or Masonic conspiracy is taking over the world, or that the Federal government is in league with the Devil.

    The system founded by Jefferson, Madison and their colleagues offers means of expression to those who do not understand its origins and wish to replace it by something very different. For example, Tom Clark, Attorney General and therefore chief law enforcement officer of the United States, in 1948 offered this suggestion: ‘Those who do not believe in the ideology of the United States shall not be allowed to stay in the United States.’ But if there is one key and characteristic US ideology, it is that there are no mandatory and no forbidden ideologies.

    In his celebrated little book, On Liberty, the English philosopher John Stuart Mill argued that silencing an opinion is ‘a peculiar evil’. If the opinion is right, we are robbed of the ‘opportunity of exchanging error for truth’; and if it’s wrong, we are deprived of a deeper understanding of the truth in ‘its collision with error’. If we know only our own side of the argument, we hardly know even that; it becomes stale, soon learned only by rote, untested, a pallid and lifeless truth.
    Mill also wrote, ‘If society lets any considerable number of its members grow up as mere children, incapable of being acted on by rational consideration of distant motives, society has itself to blame.’ Jefferson made the same point even more strongly: ‘If a nation expects to be both ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.’ In a letter to Madison, he continued the thought: ‘A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both, and deserve neither.’

    When permitted to listen to alternative opinions and engage in substantive debate, people have been known to change their minds. It can happen. For example, Hugo Black, in his youth, was a member of the Ku Klux Klan; he later became a Supreme Court justice and was one of the leaders in the historic Supreme Court decisions, partly based on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, that affirmed the civil rights of all Americans: it was said that when he was a young man, he dressed up in white robes and scared black folks; when he got older, he dressed up in black robes and scared white folks.

    However, through lowered educational standards, declining intellectual competence, diminished zest for substantive debate, and social sanctions against scepticism, our liberties can be slowly eroded and our rights subverted. The founders understood this well: ‘The time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest, and ourselves united,’ said Thomas Jefferson. “From the conclusion of this [Revolutionary] war we shall be going downhill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, ’til our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion.”

    Education on the value of free speech and the other freedoms reserved by the Bill of Rights, about what happens when you
    don’t have them, and about how to exercise and protect them, should be an essential prerequisite for being an American citizen – or the citizen of any nation, the more so to the degree that such rights remain unprotected. If we can’t think for ourselves, if we’re unwilling to question authority, then we’re just putty in the hands of those in power. But if the citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us. In every country, we should be teaching our children the scientific method and the reasons for a Bill of Rights. With it comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit.
    ~Carl Sagan

  • Pearlbuck

    Who will stand up for sanity?

    In fairness to our very disappointing president, he did come out with very commendable words (for a democrat politician) on this issue–he told the rabble, in no uncertain terms, that freedom of speech must be upheld, even when things are said that seem offensive.

    We can only hope and pray that the mainstream media will show the backbone on this issue that our wishy washy radical leftist Commander in Chief did.

  • Carlo Dante

    What is at stake here is the meaning of a university. Is it a political institution that should actualize self evident progressive justice? Is it a place of free inquiry grounded in objective reality and natural rights?

  • alex

    One thing that stands out to me here is your certainty that fields like ethnic studies, gender studies, etc. are intellectually “mediocre” and unworthy of further commitment. How can you know that? Why is it so unfathomable to you that those departments might actually be doing work that is important, necessary, and aligned with the mission of the university?

  • mikegorman

    I am the grandfather of 25 and great grand father of 2. Hence I’m “old.’ 74 to be exact. I grew up in the 40s and 50s when racism was a serious cause of death.

    While in college I was confronted with the business end of a double barreled shotgun with both hammers cocked from someone demanding to know the courage of my convictions. I survived by indicating that discretion in this case was the better part of valor.

    Steeled with experience, I forged my way in business. All 7 of my kids graduated from college without debt.

    It’s now the 2015s and there’s a demand that all campuses be without confrontation, disagreement and all that. Steel is made in the fire. You students need to hear all sides of situations, think critically, participate civilly, and then steel your lives for you will have to survive in the future.

    By shouting down free speech you deny yourselves knowledge about those with whom you disagree. You do yourselves a significant disservice. You will never know if you are 100% right, 75% right, 50% right, 25% right, or 0% right. Only half-your brain will be “educated.” The lemming half.

  • quals

    Well written and author is brave to post this.

  • catzcomment

    Well done, Mr. Cohen. My comment won’t be nearly as well written, however I’d like to tell a story of what happened to me in the seventies. Not having much money at the time, I bought a used 1966 mustang – complete with black smoke coming out of the exhaust at stop lights which came about a few weeks after it’s purchase. While I was sitting at the used dealership, waiting for the owner (regaled in gold chains and a cheap cigar) to tell me he wasn’t going to do a thing to fix my car a black man started shouting and yelling about his similar experience with HIS used car. He shouted out “You’re only treating me like this because I’m BLACK.” If I hadn’t been raised otherwise, I would have started laughing. He was being treated the way he was being treated because the car dealer was a jerk, and a thief. It didn’t have one iota to do with anyone’s skin color.
    Nicky L. believes that blacks and women are fearful of posting their experiences on line without fear of reprisal. Nicky, you need to realize that no one will ever get EVERY person’s respect. No one will ever get EVERY one to even like them. Move on. Get that log off of your shoulder and grow up. If you saw the REAL racism that I did growing up you would understand that insults are WORDS. And it is patently obvious that the only people being bullied into silence are those who disagree with your behavior, your intimidation, your tactics.
    The world is full of bad people, and good people, and amazing people. Go find the good ones, BE one of the amazing ones, use your college experience to learn something tangible that will earn you a decent or great living. Something that will bring you a sense of accomplishment and personal joy. Time will swoosh by. Don’t waste it.

  • Jason Hawthorne

    I am disgusted and dismayed and… erm… [fizzle, explode]

  • diversitybehemoth

    “The diversity behemoth is an enormous waste of academic
    time and energy. The cultural houses arguably contribute to campus-wide
    racial balkanization at least as much as they diminish it. Mandatory
    diversity training presents a grave threat to intellectual honesty and
    rigorous inquiry, because it assumes the truth of propositions that must
    ultimately be tested by empirical study.”

    As we ask ourselves exactly which propositions the author is worried about presupposing (the reality of racism? the equality of the races?), let us ponder the form of the #diversitybehemoth
    (If the picture attachment won’t work:
    http://imgur.com/gallery/KqvOEt8 )

  • Doug

    I am so happy to read at least one student saying that the Emperor has no clothes. His point on mandatory diversity training is spot on – what grade do you think you’d get if you stood up in your mandatory diversity training class and said that you thought affirmative action was misguided and should be abandoned? Do you think the class would engage in reasoned debate or would you be pilloried and compelled to recant upon penalty of flunking and worse? This isn’t the PRC – How can thought control be part of an academic program in the United States?

    • David

      To their credit, Yale and Princeton seem to have restricted the diversity training to staff and faculty, while sparing the students.

  • ldffly

    Well done!!!!!!!!!

  • Doc1943

    What is staring us in the face is the unchallenged assumption that education has to be conducted at a large institution. After I left Yale I decided I wanted to learn French.
    I got hold of the FRENCH in ACTION TAPES AND books and studied them to exhaustion. Then I joined Alliance Francais and got more immersion. Then I took some private lessons from a French teacher at a local college. I never got involved in
    a “community” that I felt would make me feel safe or expose me to hate speech or
    make me feel unwanted at fraternity parties. Attending a university brings with it a lot of baggage that clearly dilutes the educational experience as much as it enhances it. As online learning makes in roads in education, soon we will be able to eliminate much of the social friction that accompanies learning in large mass groups.

  • ShadrachSmith

    Issac, I’m an agent and you are talent. I hate you for that, but let me give you my card and…

  • Lebron

    “Aside from this, three main proposals stand out: the further funneling of resources toward the “intellectually ambitious and important fields” of race, ethnicity, gender, inequality and inclusion; the doubling of cultural house funding; and mandatory diversity training for faculty and staff, as well as new orientation programs that “explore diversity and inclusion.”
    These are all bad ideas, for many reasons.”

    This article must be a joke.

  • ShadrachSmith

    [Point of order]

    I posted this about you on the Crimson today. Just FYI to Mr. Cohen.

    I try to give credit, at least a hat tip, but sometimes I forget who said what and just steal the good stuff. Check out Isaac Cohen’s new column in the Yale Daily News. A veritable cornucopia of theft-worthy phraseology.

  • Nick Roberti ’48

    Well said. Mr Cohen. This old grad is bewildered. At a time when bigotry was ubiquitous in my world, and Yale had discriminatory admissions policies, within, Yale was an oasis of acceptance.

    Grand parents illiterate immigrant campesinos, parents in the factory workforce in Bridgeprt after the 8th grade, my own white privilege placed me at 14 in the Bloomfield tobacco fields for a summer of 10 hour days. Thus it is not surprising that I was so grateful and proud to be of that Yale community. I loved Silliman.

    But now, on the basis of some students’ reaction to what appears to me an innocuous letter, one student shouts she is afraid to go to her Silliman room and another screeches curses at the Master. This is the only evidence of racism presented. The rest, expressions of “feelings.” On the basis of this, President Salovey, without citing a single specific instance of racism or other discrimination concludes that the racism is bad enough to propose:

    “ I, along with the vice presidents, deans, provosts, and other members of the administration, will receive training on recognizing and combating racism and other forms of discrimination in the academy. Similar programs will be provided to department chairs, directors of graduate and undergraduate studies, masters and deans, student affairs staff, and others across the university.”

    How insulting and demeaning to assume that all these people are such racist obtuse clods as to need some form of sensitivity training.

    This, I fear is the death knell of a once great and noble institution of higher learning, being destroyed by her stewards.

    Nicholas Roberti ’48

    • ldffly

      This letter should be replicated in many other publications. I have the same fear as stated in your concluding sentence. And I felt the same love for the university I knew.

  • FtzWW

    Nice article. Congrats.