Christina Lee, Photography Editor

Three of five student acts scheduled to perform at a Friday night dinner celebrating University President Peter Salovey’s service to Yale made last-minute decisions to cancel their performances.

As University guests gathered for dinner in the Schwarzman Center, over 400 people gathered in Beinecke Plaza, just outside the event, to protest Yale’s investments in military weapons manufacturing. Many of the protest chants directly addressed Yale Corporation members inside the venue, as protesters named the trustees and shouted, “Shame on you!”

Of the five groups originally slated for the night – Sabrosura, Tangled up in Blue, Whim ‘n Rhythm, Magevet and solo opera singer Daniel Espinal MUS ’24 – only Espinal and some members of Magevet ultimately performed. 

All four of the group acts either declined to comment on the decision or did not respond to messages from the News. Some members of Tangled up in Blue and Sabrosura joined the protest outside at the time they were originally scheduled to perform at the dinner. 

At the dinner, Espinal said that he performed one song at around 9:15 p.m. for a crowd of close to 100 people, and that he was unaware that a protest was happening outside the building.

“When I got there, an administrator told me, ‘some of the groups aren’t coming so you might be going first,’” he said.

All five groups attended a sound check for the event around 3 p.m., according to a student in attendance who requested anonymity due to a fear of retaliation. The student said that the groups had planned out what they were singing for Salovey, and had incorporated references to his tenure into their sets.

Espinal told the News that when he arrived at the Friday night dinner, members of Tangled up in Blue were still in the venue and practicing for their performance. But they ultimately left the event before their planned performance time. 

On Saturday afternoon, a protest organizer on Beinecke Plaza announced that Tangled up in Blue had pulled out of the performance in solidarity with the protest and that some members would perform on Beinecke Plaza alongside the protesters later that afternoon. The group performed around 2:45 p.m. and sang “Paradise” by John Prine and “Ohio” by Neil Young, among other songs.

Friday night’s dinner took place in Commons at the Schwarzman Center. Attendees included Yale Corporation’s current trustees, emeritus trustees, administrators, other school officials, partners and volunteers to celebrate University President Peter Solvey’s service to Yale. 

William Ginsberg, who is President and CEO of The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and attended the dinner, told the News that the event featured “well-deserved” tributes to Salovey. 

“Trustees, former trustees, musical performances, videos about accomplishments in the Salovey years. It was very upbeat, [a] retrospective on the Salovey years and looking forward to what happens from here,” he said. 

Ginsberg said that he could not hear protesters from inside the event.

Samuel Haller, a financial assistant in the Department of Psychology, Salovey’s old department, also attended the dinner.

“The building is remarkably soundproof,” Haller said. “Nothing went through.”

While students occupied the area directly outside the entrance to the Schwarzman Center overlooking Beinecke Plaza, attendees quietly began exiting the event from the other side of the building, facing the intersection of College and Grove Street, around 9 p.m. The party-goers, some of whom left in large white vans, were flanked by more than 15 Yale police officers in two lines. Three Yale Police cars were stationed on College Street adjacent to the exit, and a fourth pulled onto the sidewalk at around 9:45 p.m.

Haller, who chose to exit the Schwarzman Center from the door facing Beinecke Plaza, said that “given what [he] was wearing,” a suit and tie, he was initially “met with some derision” from protesters, who yelled ‘shame’ at him. However, when Haller told the protesters, “I work for [UNITE HERE] Local 34 and I say, ‘free Palestine,’” their attitude toward him changed. 

Haller donned a keffiyeh given to him by protesters and joined them in “free Palestine” chants.

No members of the Yale Corporation who were seen by the News exiting Schwarzman Center, including senior trustee Maurie McInnis GRD ’90 GRD ’96, Maryana Iskander LAW ’03, Neal Wolin ’83 LAW ’88, Marta Tellado GRD ’02, Michael Warren ’90 and Catharine Bond Hill GRD ’85, responded to request for comment. 

However, Lance Liebman ’62, a trustee from 1971 to 1983 and a former Chairman of the News, said that the event was a positive reflection of Salovey’s time. 

“It was very good,” he said of the event.  “Everybody spoke very well of Salovey’s presidency.”

The Schwarzman Center is located at 168 Grove Street.

Nathaniel Rosenberg contributed reporting.

Josie Reich covers Admissions, Financial Aid & Alumni for the News. Originally from Washington, DC, she is a sophomore in Davenport College majoring in American Studies.
Benjamin Hernandez covers Woodbridge Hall, the President's Office. He previously reported on international affairs at Yale. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, he is a sophomore in Trumbull College majoring in Global Affairs.