A Party of the Right whip sheet inviting Yale students to debate the topic “Resolved: Reform the Savages” incited student uproar Friday evening over its use of offensive language and images. The debate in question was held at 7:45 p.m. on Thursday night at 279 Crown St, according to the handout.
“What remains of Civilization will debate the topic,” the whip sheet read. “The Party will colonize the Body of Savages known as the Yale Political Union as it debates the Topic ‘Resolved: Deny Amnesty for Undocumented immigrants.’ ” The YPU debate was held on Monday, Sept. 25, three days before the POR debate.
On Friday evening, a post in the popular Facebook group Overheard at Yale condemned the whip sheet as racist. The post included a screenshot of a Facebook message in which an individual identifying as the POR chairman asked to meet with a member of the Native American Cultural Center to apologize for the content of the whip sheet.
“The Association of Native Americans at Yale condemns the dehumanization of Indigenous people in the debate ‘Resolved: Reform the Savages’ organized by the Yale Party of the Right,” ANAAY said in a statement posted online following the Overheard post. “The Party of the Right uses racist imagery and language to portray indigenous peoples as others, as enemies, as inhuman.”
The statement said that while members of the POR find genocide “laughable,” people of color continue to face systematic oppression and suffer through the historical trauma of colonization.
In a letter posted online and addressed to the Yale Community, POR Chairman Quinn Shephard ’19 said the “Reform the Savages” resolution was meant to open a conversation about the dangerous and insidious nature of colonialism.
“I would like to issue an apology to those members of Yale’s indigenous community who were hurt by the contents of the whip sheet, which I take fully responsibility for having approved,” Shepherd wrote. “Many members of my Party, in the wake of the whip sheet’s completion, objected to the whip sheet itself and I myself regret having allowed the whip sheet to be sent out.”
Shepherd said the POR is known for using controversy to stoke debate over ideas, adding that this week’s resolution aimed to do just that. Still, Shepherd conceded in the letter that this whip sheet failed to properly communicate its purpose and “instead took cheap shots in an ultimately unproductive and harmful way.”
Shepherd also noted that the POR debate topic for Thursday evening was determined before the Yale Political Union decided to debate the issue of amnesty for undocumented immigrants. The debate topic, Shepherd explained, was intended to emphasize the “arbitrary way” that the pejorative “savage” has been used to justify cultural and economic imperialism.
ANAAY’s statement stressed that the flyer’s satirical tone does not excuse the POR’s “explicit racism.”
The whip sheet concludes with an invitation to send “Ivory Shipments, Missionary Zeal and Inquiries” to the chief whip, Peter Luff ’20. Asked about the details of the whip sheet’s release, Luff referred questions to Shepherd’s statement.
When asked for comment, ANAAY President Haylee Kushi ’18 told the News that the group has nothing to add to its statement at this time.
ANAAY was founded in 1989 by John Bathke ’93.
Britton O’Daly | firstname.lastname@example.org