Due to recent concerns about the racial climate on campus, communication between University President Peter Salovey and Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway has been more constant than ever, though at some points it has been challenging.
At first, the racial controversies fell primarily under the jurisdiction of the Yale College Dean’s Office, while Salovey remained unaware of an allegedly “white girls only” admission policy at a Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity party for five days. However, larger concerns about the party and an email from Silliman College Associate Master Erika Christakis criticizing oversensitivity to cultural appropriation later necessitated the involvement of the Woodbridge Hall, particularly during a Cross Campus gathering when students expressed wide-ranging concerns about campus climate to Holloway for two hours. Starting with a four-hour meeting in the Corporation Room that included Salovey and Holloway and 50 students from groups such as the Black Student Alliance at Yale, the two have worked together continually. While collaborating on joint messages to the Yale community, Holloway said they faced the challenge of addressing the concerns of all constituencies of the University, not just those of the undergraduate population. Salovey said the most important lesson in communication he has learned is the value of face-to-face meetings between himself, Holloway and various University groups. Going forward, however, he said he would like to be made aware of major incidents on campus more quickly in the future.
“It’s always going to be best if either one of us learns of a significant event, we share it as quickly as possible with each other,” Salovey said. “I will make it clear that it’s best to put me in the loop immediately, even if there is ambiguity. [The SAE incident] would be the kind of thing in the future I would like to hear about.”
Still, Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews said she learned of the SAE incident toward the end of Halloween weekend and subsequently touched base with the YCDO to determine how Woodbridge Hall could offer support.
But since Woodbridge Hall became involved, Holloway said he and Salovey have spent more time together than they had throughout the entire rest of his tenure as dean.
On Nov. 5, Salovey and Holloway wrote their first of several joint emails addressing concerns of racism and discrimination on campus. Holloway said when crafting joint emails from the YCDO and Woodbridge, it is crucial to consider who will be reading the message. Joint emails must therefore address the concerns of all constituencies of the University.
Before Salovey announced policies in response to student concerns, he and Holloway collaborated at length, he said.
“During the weekend of [Nov.] 14th, as we were thinking about what kinds of initiatives to announce, he and I spent a lot of time together,” Salovey said.
Salovey said that in working with Holloway over the part month, the two administrators grew to appreciate the importance of face-to-face interactions as compared to memorandums and emails.
Salovey added that having previously served as dean of Yale College, he appreciates the value of having worked closely with Holloway throughout the past month.
“I have strong feelings about the importance of the relationship between the dean and the president,” Salovey said. “The dean has observations rooted in daily experiences with students, residential college masters and deans, while the president sometimes has the long view and knowledge about and particular ties to leaders on other campuses. I think the combination of those two perspectives — global and local — can lead to better understandings by both the president and the dean when they work closely together.”