On Saturday morning, Dean of Yale College Jonathan Holloway sent an email to all undergraduate students addressing recent controversies regarding the Yale men’s basketball team.
The email marks the University’s first statement to the campus community since the team’s public display of support for former basketball captain Jack Montague on Feb. 26, a move which sparked accusations and criticism towards Montague and the team through a series of posters on campus.
Using the subject line, “A request,” Holloway wrote in his email that he had been following the campus reaction to recent events involving the men’s basketball team’s “symbolic T-shirts” and the posters that appeared on campus in response to them.
“I know that many of you are upset and angry, and that you are sharing deeply conflicting views,” Holloway wrote. “As you engage with each other, I ask that you also treat each other civilly.”
The message comes more than three weeks after Montague withdrew from the University on Feb. 10 and two weeks after Yale athletics sent out a press release on Feb. 24 saying that Montague would not be returning to the team this year.
Two days following the press release, the team wore special warmup T-shirts referencing its former captain during a sold-out Feb. 26 contest against Harvard. The shirts, which had Montague’s number and nickname on the back and an inverted and backwards “Yale”on the front, spurred controversy despite a lack of clarity regarding Montague’s departure.
Even though forward Justin Sears ’16 said after the game that the shirts were simply a show of support for a “brother” and were not a protest against the University, on Monday and Wednesday mornings, posters addressing the team’s actions appeared around campus. Some featured a picture of the team in the T-shirts, asking them to “stop supporting a rapist.”
In his Saturday email, Holloway called for the campus community to treat each other with respect at times of disagreement, and highlighted his commitment to making campus a safe community for all.
“I am committed to providing a safe campus for all of you, protecting your privacy, preventing harassment of all kinds, and ensuring that you can make your voices heard,” Holloway wrote. “I know that I can count on you to join me in this effort by treating each other with respect — especially when you disagree.”
The Yale Women’s Center and Unite Against Sexual Assault Yale also released statements earlier in the week, on Wednesday night and Thursday morning respectively, calling for an improvement in campus climate. Additionally, a student petition titled “I stand with yale women” began circulating around campus on Monday afternoon, calling for support for survivors of sexual violence.
Despite allegations circulating campus, the reasons for Montague’s departure remain unclear. No University administrators or members of the basketball program have publicly addressed his absence from the team. However, Montague’s father, Jim Montague, told the New Haven Register on Thursday that Jack Montague had been expelled from the University for “ridiculous” reasons.
Vice President for Communications Eileen O’Connor said on Thursday night that she was unable to comment on the specifics of an individual’s status, as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act prohibits educational institutions from releasing a student’s private academic records without the student’s prior written consent.
In the absence of the former captain, who has not played since a Feb. 6 win over Cornell, the basketball team has gone 6–1, ensuring a share of the Ivy League title. The team is one win away from earning an outright league championship and the accompanying NCAA Tournament berth.
Yale has not attended the tournament since 1962.