Ellie Park, Photography Editor

On Monday, University administration sent an email to “clarify” the administration’s position on structures. The message from Secretary and Vice President for University Life Kimberly Goff-Crews, which went to the Yale community, came one week after pro-Palestine protesters erected a pop-up bookshelf structure on Beinecke Plaza and mere hours after Yale Police cleared protesters’ tent encampment. 

On April 16, when the bookshelf was erected and removed shortly after, there was no policy on structures on the University Provost Office’s Policies & Procedures website. The University administration then also failed to clearly explain the policy behind their removal of the structure. 

Protesters, who have been demanding that Yale divest from military weapons manufacturers, argue that the new policy unfairly targets their ongoing demonstrations.

“I find that the policy is a reactionary measure that was cobbled together to specifically silence and suppress student organizers and occupiers who have been diligently, carefully, and peacefully bringing to light Yale’s complicity in the genocide of Palestinians,” Minh Vu ’20 GRD ’26, who has been active in the divestment protests this past week, wrote in an email to the News.

Vu said they believe administrators are more interested in “policing its students” than in considering their input and that the policy was crafted to silence the peaceful protests of students in recent days.

Adam Nussbaum ’25, who has also participated in the divestment demonstrations, said that he found the policy “a bit incoherent, and absurd.” Nussbaum, an architecture student, believes that the updated policy will chill free speech and student expression.

“Requiring something to be approved by the governing body of the school makes it much more difficult for students to express themselves freely in public space because there’s always the possibility for administrative repression, as we’ve seen,” Nussbaum said.

Nussbaum added that he believes the University is experiencing a moment of distrust between students and the administration, because of this perceived repression.

Goff-Crews wrote to the News that Yale’s goals are to “always” support its free expression policies and to keep the campus secure for everyone so that the University’s operations are allowed to continue.

“We, as a community, cannot tolerate acts of discrimination, harassment, or physical harm nor can we allow any violation of Yale policies that interrupt our academic work and campus operations,” Goff-Crews wrote in Monday’s email. 

According to the updated policy, students who wish to place a structure — which the policy defines as a “wall, barrier, tent, sculpture, artwork or other object” — must first obtain written permission from an appropriate administrator with authority over that space. These administrators include heads of colleges for residential college spaces, school deans for Yale College and graduate and professional school spaces and from Goff-Crews’ office for outdoor spaces, including Cross Campus, Beinecke Plaza and other University outdoor spaces.

Protesters did not obtain permission from administrators to build the bookshelf or the tents on Beinecke Plaza.

A University spokesperson wrote to the News that the bookshelves “were impeding the flow of traffic on the plaza.” On the day the bookshelf was removed, the spokesperson cited general policies around free expression and peaceful assembly and the use of outdoor spaces. 

In an email to the News, Goff-Crews wrote that the structure policy builds on existing policies. However, she did not directly answer how it differs from the policy that was previously in place.

“The clarification, shared with the university community on Monday, specifically addresses policy regarding structures and will be useful to students and other members of the university community planning activity,” Goff-Crews wrote to the News.

Goff-Crews was named Vice President for University Life in 2019.

Ariela Lopez covers City Hall and City Politics. Originally from New York City, she is a first-year in Branford College.
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.