Almost a year after journalist and former campus conservative James Kirchick ’06 dropped out of the race for an alumni fellow position at the Yale Corporation, Georgetown Law Professor Nicholas Rosenkranz ’92 LAW ’99 is campaigning to join the University’s highest governing body on a similar platform emphasizing free speech and ideological diversity.

Like Kirchick, who failed to gather the required number of signatures to appear on the ballot, Rosenkranz said he is concerned about the size of Yale’s bureaucracy, its hostility to free speech on campus and waning donations. A professor at Georgetown University Law Center, Rosenkranz sits on the board of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the Federalist Society. His father, Robert Rosenkranz ’62, is a major donor and the namesake of Rosenkranz Hall.

“I think the 2015 Halloween controversy was a wake-up call for concerned alumni who love Yale but are concerned about the new culture which seems to be becoming more hostile to free speech,” Rosenkranz told the News on Tuesday.

In the fall of 2015, then-Silliman Associate-Master Erika Christakis sent an email to the Silliman community, questioning an earlier University statement that asked students to carefully consider cultural appropriation when designing their Halloween costumes. Angered by the idea that free speech could override cultural sensitivity, students organized many campuswide protests, causing Erika Christakis and her husband, then-Silliman Master Nicholas Christakis ’84, to resign from their respective residential college positions.

Rosenkranz said he launched a campaign for the position because a group of alumni who share his concerns about the lack of free speech and ideological diversity on campus approached him about running. Since then, Rosenkranz has received endorsements from several Yale community members. 

Lauren Noble ’11, the director of the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale, also said that she enthusiastically supports Rosenkranz’s candidacy for a seat on the Yale Corporation.

“Yale alumni lack a real choice in the Alumni Fellow election. No information is provided about where the candidates selected by the administration stand on major issues facing the University,” she said.

According to University Secretary Kimberly Goff-Crews, alumni who are not nominated by the Alumni Fellow Nominating Committee of the Yale Alumni Association can only put their name on the ballot for a seat on the Corporation if they collect signatures from more than 3 percent of qualified electors.

Last year, Kirchick’s failure to garner at least 4,266 signatures from University alumni annulled his monthslong campaign to join the Corporation. At the time, Kirchick attributed his unsuccessful candidacy to “the arbitrarily high minimum amount of signatures needed for ballot access.” While Rosenkranz declined to specify how many signatures he gathered, he noted that it is “very challenging” to reach the 3 percent threshold.

“I don’t know Jamie personally, but from everything I’ve heard, he is a good guy and a strong candidate,” Rosenkranz said. “I gather that I am a good bit older than he is and perhaps a bit more established. Perhaps alumni will be more comfortable with me for that reason.”

In an interview with the News, Goff-Crews said that in recent history, alumni have rarely attempted to get onto the ballot with a petition drive. The last alumnus to run a successful campaign to get onto the ballot without the alumni committee’s nomination was the Rev. W David Lee DIV ’93 in 2002. Lee entered the race through a petition drive and ran a vigorous campaign, giving media interviews and soliciting donations and endorsements.

Rosenkranz teaches constitutional law and federal jurisdiction at Georgetown.

Serena Cho | serena.cho@yale.edu 

Skakel McCooey | skakel.mccooey@yale.edu

Correction, Sept. 4: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Rosenkranz received an endorsement from sociology professor Nicholas Christakis. Christakis, in fact, did not endorse Rosenkranz. In May, he wrote on twitter “If you are a Yale alum, consider signing this form docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/b0cbbd_a26… to get Nick Rosenkranz ’92 LAW 99 ⁦‪@profnqr‬⁩on the ballot for the Yale Corporation, whether you agree with platform alumniforexcellence.com/statement or not. Elections to important roles should offer broad candidates.”

Correction, Sept. 5: A previous version of this story stated that Rosenkranz graduated from the University in 1983. He, in fact, is a member of Yale Class of 1992. 

  • ldffly

    I hope that Prof. Rosenkranz succeeds in getting on the board. I’m not foolish enough to believe that one man on the board can turn Yale back towards its ideals, but if he can behave as a gadfly he’ll have done a good service.

  • dcheretic

    Neither Kirchick nor Rosenkranz would be considered conservative outside of Yale. That so many Yale community members peg them as right-wing and treat them with the same disdain directed towards Trumpists is telling and troubling.

    • ldffly

      I don’t know if you’re on the Yale Alumni page, but the loony conspiracy claims and calumny are hard to believe. Yale graduates have been claiming that Rosenkranz is merely the head (the point of the spear if you will) of an American Enterprise Institute sponsored cabal to take over the board. Don’t ask for evidence from these people—the slime bucket of racism, bigotry and homophobia will quickly be dumped onto your head.