To the Editor,

My suite in Franklin College opens onto Prospect Street in a way that makes me uncomfortable: ground floor, 12 windows between my four suitemates and a daily gaggle of college students walking past our humble abode towards Science Hill every morning.

And yet between all the uncomfortable stares I get as my peers window shop my dorm room and make noise in the mornings, I consider this and many other nontraditional things that I have found on this campus blessings. I’m lucky to be able to pick the brains of nationally-recognized scholars and students as we walk together to Science Hill or to brunch together afterwards. I’m fortunate enough to call my home a place where innovation, groundbreaking discoveries and so much more happens on the regular right outside my window.

But I know that is not what is on the minds of my fellow peers and faculty this week. I know this because as I write about my grievances with too many windows in my home, there exists the reality that half a globe away in Gaza and Israel, windows are shattering to the sound of bomb sirens, gunfire rests a trigger finger away from a shooting war and many of my own friends, peers, tutors and educators are watching their own families and loved ones fight for the right to exist, to live and to cherish what our shared humanity has to offer.

It breaks my heart.

Doubly so when members of this beloved community, which I have come to cherish, choose to see each other as the worst of what we supposedly embody because of where we call home and what languages we speak. 

When whiteboard messages tell us to subject an entire culture and people to death and to call them the “children of whores”, protests here open fresh wounds for many, and a tweet from a current professor expressing a controversial stance garners a petition to remove her from the classroom, might I add, with more signatures than current Yale-affiliated members, I fail to see a community of scholarship focused on slowing down and fixing things. I see a community of excellence choosing to statistically discriminate against one another, choosing the most hurtful things to say for the express purpose of outrage and abusing positions of trust between peers and mentor-student relationships alike for the expediency of expressing one’s own opinions above others. 

And before this letter is taken as a moral stand for one side or another of this political Gordian’s Knot, I do not share my personal uncomforts with Yale for no reason. For me, those uncomfortable things make this education and this place worth it precisely because they force me to experience new things. As such, things here at this wonderful place of transformation are always uncomfortable and unappealing for us on many layers of sensitivity – that much will always be true. But when we abridge the basic respect we ought to have for each other to label each other “sympathizers” for this cause or “supporters” of another, we do no better than those that seek open conflict and render our world a more violent and intolerant place. So long as the discussion is here on this campus, the issue ought to transcend the things we view as uncomfortable and focus on what matters: respect for that other side regardless of what it may be, a search for common ground with our detractors and a conscious genuine effort at fixing what breaks.

AARON CHEN is a first-year in Benjamin Franklin College. Contact him at