To the Yale community, 

I am writing to notify you of my resignation from my role as the Chairperson of the Diversity,  Equity, and Inclusion, or DEI, Committee of the Graduate Student Assembly, or GSA, as of  Dec. 13, 2023. I reached this decision due to Yale’s institutional racial bias, especially in light of recent events that stripped my position of any meaningful contribution.  

I want to start by stating the most important: we are watching a genocide1 unfolding before our eyes. The human loss and suffering have reached unfathomable levels. Since 1948, Israel has killed and violently displaced thousands of Palestinians, seizing most of the land on which  Palestinians had lived and eventually occupying2 the remaining lands — Gaza and the West Bank. As part of this history, at least 700 civilians3 were murdered in Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, by Palestinian armed resistance and Israeli military crossfire4. The Israeli military has been carpet-bombing Gaza since then and murdered at least 29,000 people, with thousands more presumed dead under the rubble, including more than 12,000 children. Ninety percent of Gaza’s over two million inhabitants have been displaced. Still, more than 130 people are still held hostage by Hamas, and more than 7,000 Palestinians are reportedly imprisoned by Israel.  

These figures should terrify anyone who respects human life.  

As one of the most powerful educational institutions in a country directly enabling and funding this genocide, Yale University holds an important position. Yale is a global leader in research and knowledge production; consequently, I consider it our ethical duty, especially as educators and researchers who have a variety of resources for analyzing and assessing world affairs, to share our knowledge, draw accurate portrayals of them even if it means countering the official narrative and hold responsible parties accountable. It is our ethical duty to use all our resources to prevent genocide.  

Unfortunately, my experience at Yale as the DEI Chair of the GSA has shown me Yale is not willing to take action to protect even its own students, let alone contribute to the ongoing efforts to stop the genocide of Palestinians.  

Women of color do disproportionately more DEI work in institutions that rely on our uncompensated overtime labor. We usually have no choice but to volunteer our time and labor in order for DEI committees/offices to remain functional. I have been volunteering my time and labor for the position in the hopes that I could contribute to the ongoing efforts on campus to achieve social justice, only to find out that the work I did through my position did not have much significance for Yale’s administration.  

As the DEI Chair of the GSA, I reached out to the Yale administration and expressed my concerns about the possible outcomes of Yale’s biased approach to what University President Peter Salovey referred to as “the war in the Middle East” on Oct. 10, 2023. I conveyed that President Salovey’s carefully crafted statement, despite attempting to sound neutral, came off one-sided due to its lack of historicity, which, in turn, caused uneasy feelings among some, including Palestinian and Muslim students. Yale’s institutional response, or lack thereof, to the hate speech incident at Grace Hopper College that targeted Palestinians exacerbated the situation. I also noted that Yale’s institutional stance reflected a pattern of racial bias against Muslim communities and offered to talk more about the similar incidents I had observed. Yale did not express any interest.  

I asked the Yale administration what steps they had taken to eliminate Yale’s racial bias and suggested working together to address the issue. Yale’s response emphasized Yale’s commitment to its values, including inclusivity and free speech, yet failed to answer my questions about the past, present and future action items.  

I responded to Yale immediately after the doxxing truck incident, outlined the four pillars of  combating violence as an institution and emphasized that Yale must: 

“(i) prevent the occurrence of incidents similar to the hate speech in Grace Hopper College or the  ones in our peer institutions; 

(ii) protect those who might be impacted by possible incidents that we failed to prevent; 

(iii) investigate such incidents and take action (e.g., releasing an institutional statement of  support for the victims, holding the responsible parties accountable in light of the teachings of  reparative justice, etc.) 

(iv) introduce or revise policies to effectively address the issue to ensure that similar incidents  won’t happen in the future.” 

I believe I provided substantial insight into how to address the issues at hand, especially the  doxxing truck that directly endangered many Yale affiliates, the majority of whom were graduate  students of color, including myself. I once again underlined the importance of having concrete  action items.  

Yale administration’s dismissive response stated that “[t]he university [was] actively engaged in  conversations about how to respond and prevent these incidents,” ignoring my questions and  attempts to have further conversations to collaborate. In a final attempt to do my job as the DEI  Chair of the GSA, on Nov. 20, 2023, I asked Yale how graduate students could be included in those alleged conversations. I would be happy to step up as not only the DEI Chair but also 

one of the victims of the doxing truck harassment and its baseless defamation. Yale ignored my  email.  

My goal in reaching out was to help take action not only to protect those who were harmed but  also to prevent similar incidents. Even though I had resources to offer, my endeavors to establish  a meaningful connection to collaborate during such a difficult time did not lead to anything. 

Likewise, the victims of the doxxing truck have been in conversation with several different Yale  officials in administrative positions and asked for specific types of support. Yale still has not  provided any of them, leaving graduate students on their own. Correspondingly, GSA drafted a  resolution on the incident, which passed almost unanimously5. I call on Yale to provide the  support and resources requested in the recent GSA resolution that addresses the doxxing truck  harassment. 

As a human being with ethics, as a graduate student who researches colonial practices of  marking certain bodies disposable, and as an educator who contributes to knowledge production,  I feel the responsibility to do everything I can to stop the genocide of Palestinians. I refuse to be  forced into silence or “neutral” discourse that, as history has proven over and over, only maintains  the status quo at best. Today, the status quo is genocide.  

Israel has attacked schools, places of worship, hospitals, ambulances, universities, refugee  camps, public institutions, UN facilities and other places protected under international  law. They have killed journalists, humanitarian aid workers, teachers, students, healthcare workers, UN officials and more at incredibly high and unprecedented rates, committing several war crimes. Israeli officials publicly stated their intentions to destroy Gaza, calling Palestinians “human animals,”12 among other dehumanizing slurs. By blocking humanitarian aid and destroying most of the residential buildings, Israel has been endangering the lives of everyone in Gaza, including the hostages. Gaza is experiencing mass deaths due to starvation and diseases7. 

As a woman of color and a first-gen international student, I refuse to volunteer my time and  labor for an institution that chooses to stay silent while universities and schools are getting  destroyed, academics and students are being murdered and libraries and archives are being  eliminated — an institution that has exhibited a pattern of racial bias and ignored the efforts of  collaboration to address any of the aforementioned issues.  

I thank those who nominated and elected me for the position. I also thank the GSA Chair, Chris  Lindsay, and Vice Chair, John Gonzalez, for their support and leadership throughout my time as the DEI Committee Chair.  

I want to end by expressing my gratitude to those who did not and will not remain silent in the  face of genocide, including some Yale faculty, student organizations and many New Haven  residents


Yaprak Damla Yildirim



[1] The definition of genocide by the United Nations (UN) can be found here. Alternatively, you can refer to this  analysispublished by the Jewish Currents. 

[2] UN has repeatedly reported Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories to be illegal in numerous resolutions. You  can see Resolutions 446, 452, 465, 471, and 476 for reference or read the UN Study on the Legality of the Israeli  Occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Including East Jerusalem here

[3] The New York Times reported that of the 1,200 Israelis killed, 845 were identified as civilians; France 24 later reported that Israel had identified 695 civilians killed, according to Israeli social security information

[4] See the coverages by the Middle East Monitor, Haaretz (in Hebrew), Electronic Intifada, the Associated Press and The Cradle.  

[5] 58 approve, 4 disapprove, 2 abstentions. Resolution F23-003. 

[6] Quoted from Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant

[7] Unfortunately, the list of such attacks is too long for me to cover in a footnote. Some sources for reference: ICRC972Mag, The Guardian 1, The Guardian 2, Human Rights Watch, NPR 1, NPR 2, Reliefweb, Amnesty, Reuters 1Reuters 2, BBC, Middle East Monitor, NBC, CBS, Washington Post.