The Association of Native Americans at Yale delivered a letter to the Yale Political Union this weekend demanding that the YPU “strongly and unequivocally condemn” the Party of the Right for a controversial whip sheet distributed last month.
The letter calls for a “formal and public statement” from the YPU and demands that the Union allow representatives from ANAAY to attend meetings held by a new committee created in response to the whip sheet controversy. The new committee, called the Committee for Union Inclusiveness, is headed by Amanda Reichenbach ’18, a former chairman of the Party of the Right, and includes representatives from all parties in the YPU. Its objective is to investigate institutional changes to the YPU that will help address systemic inequality. On Sunday night, Rita Wang ’19, the speaker of the YPU, told the News that two members of ANAAY will serve as nonvoting members of the committee.
The Party of the Right whip sheet, which invited students to debate the topic “Resolved: Reform the Savages,” led to student uproar for its use of offensive language and images.
“Personally, I understand that they may feel frustrated due to feeling left out of our process,” Wang said. “But I also think that understanding our institution means that recognizing that things move very slowly and must be given due process. The Yale Political Union is an 84-year-old institution that is bound by the rules of it’s Constitution.”
The YPU is currently responding internally, Wang added. But she said said that the Union will probably not publish another statement in response to the whip sheet.
The Party of the Right did not respond to a request for comment.
After ANAAY denounced the whip sheet on Facebook last month, multiple student groups condemned the sheet and the YPU made a public statement disavowing the sheet and the “dehumanizing language that it contained.” The statement also said that the actions of the Party of the Right do not represent the wider YPU.
But, in its Saturday letter, ANAAY argued that the original YPU statement was “dishearteningly weak … distancing the Union from these reprehensible actions and absolving the Union leadership of responsibility.”
“We, the Association of Native Americans at Yale (ANAAY), are dismayed and outraged by the failure of the leadership of the Yale Political Union (YPU) to condemn the actions of their affiliate, the Party of the Right (POR),” ANAAY writes in the letter.
The letter also raises concerns that if the POR whipsheet had not been leaked to members of Yale’s Native American community, there would have been no response from the YPU or the Party of the Right, which released an apology from its chairman following the incident. Specifically, the letter charges that the resolution was announced before the YPU on Monday, Sept. 25 but drew no condemnation at that time, suggesting, according to the letter, that the POR and the YPU have no ability to detect or respond to racism.
Wang said that she rejects the idea that the YPU cannot detect racism or welcome students of color, noting the she herself is a queer woman of color and that there are many people of color in the YPU. She added that she ran for her position on the platform of improving race, gender and class awareness in the YPU, noting, however, that such improvements can be achieved overnight.
“The Union is a community and as such we all respect one another and take each other very seriously,” Wang told the News. “The resolution was viewed as incendiary but its meaning was interpreted differently person by person. No one outside of the leadership of the Party of the Right saw the whip sheet before it was posted on Overheard at Yale.”
Moreover, she added, the constitution of the Yale Political Union gives each party “full autonomy in the conduct of their internal affairs,” meaning that no officer has the authority to prevent the Party of the Right from debating the resolution.
Britton O’Daly | firstname.lastname@example.org