The Association of Native Americans at Yale hereby offers a response to the Yale Daily News’ article entitled “NACC staff departures prompt student frustration” released at 2:31 a.m. on Feb. 26, 2019.
It is ANAAY’s opinion that the News should promptly rescind its article concerning the Native American Cultural Center and its student community.
The News produced this article with complete disregard for social costs on the Native community and matriculating Native pre-frosh. Instead of focusing on Native students, the News article used a damage-based approach to depict the current staff turnover situation at the NACC. The News chose, as suggested by the title, to emphasize how frustrated Native students are with the situation, a decision that undermines Indigenous agency on campus by only using a damaged gaze.
This is deeply unsettling because many writers and researchers rely on this same damage-based approach to depict entire Native communities, and have for generations. 1
Several members of our community were contacted by the News over the past few weeks to give a statement for the article in question, but did not do so because they did not feel comfortable with how the News would skew their words, merely for the story. No doubt, the News did not consider how emotionally exhausting it might be for certain members attached to Assistant Director Kapiolani Laronal and Dean Kelly Fayard to articulate their opinions on the respective departures.
Members of ANAAY want to reassure the rest of the Native community and matriculating Native students of our commitment to our community and pride in how far we have come since Laronal and Fayard have joined it. ANAAY wishes the very best for both Laronal and Fayard in their future endeavors, as two badass Indigenous women who are sure to go on and do amazing things for our communities.
ANAAY argues that the News article distracts from the legacy of these two fierce leaders of our community, and instead depicts Natives on campus as too “upset” to function. ANAAY certainly wants Native students to be a priority for the Yale College Dean’s Office in the future, but not at the expense of recognizing the current strength of our community.
Association of Native Americans at Yale (ANAAY)
Editor’s Note, March 8: It is the policy of the News to not retract any stories, except in cases of extreme factual error or a breach in journalistic ethics. We do not believe that the story “NACC staff departures prompt student frustration” falls into either of those categories.
Still, we welcome all feedback and criticism of our reporting, particularly when we face the charge of sensationalism or a lack of compassion for the communities we cover at Yale and in New Haven. We take these allegations seriously, and we will make a stronger effort moving forward to more responsibly and productively cover the Native community at Yale. This especially includes making greater strides to respect the emotional well-being and comfort of our sources.