David Millstone, one of two candidates running to become Yale’s newest trustee, appears on the surface to be your average nerdy corporate tycoon, a common archetype on Yale’s governing Board. Per his biography on the Yale Alumni Association website, “a course on the philosophy of science … instilled in him the value of questioning assumptions that constrain our view of the world.” However, if you look at where his money goes, it seems like he decided it would be easier to dictate other people’s views for them. Millstone — a donor to known enemies of higher education, a supporter of right-wing conservative indoctrination programs, and an investor in drone technology — should not be Yale’s next trustee. 

Per FEC filings, Millstone has donated $1 million to the political campaign of notorious anti-education crusader Gov. Ron DeSantis ’01 through the Never Back Down PAC. He’s also the primary funder and namesake of a conservative education program for middle schoolers run through the Tikvah Fund, which the centrist Israeli news website Ynet has described as “the right-wing response to the [liberal Zionist] New Israel Fund.” Ynet adds that the fund “promotes a US Republican worldview” and that it “is being accused in Religious Zionism circles of turning a cold shoulder to the disadvantaged, underrepresenting women, and deepening the rift among the Jewish people.” 

The program itself, called the Millstone Scholars, operates in 21 locations ranging from Cleveland to San Francisco to the New York City metropolitan area. Millstone Scholars champions the worst of conservative narratives, as two of the four pillars of the program are “America is an exceptional nation” and “The Zionist project is one of the great moral, cultural, and political triumphs in human history.” Unlike Millstone, I believe seventh and eighth graders should be learning historically accurate content — not national propaganda that obscures the settler-colonial ethnic cleansing and genocides perpetrated both by the United States and Israel since their respective foundings.

Millstone has also donated extensively to House Republicans. Beyond giving $500,000 to Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s PAC and over $245,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, the main fundraising arm of the congressional GOP, he has also financially backed hateful demagogues such as Sens. Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton

Millstone’s politicians aren’t all hate, though. For example, they love conspiracy theories, fear-mongering and racism. They’re also known for supporting Christian Zionism, an antisemitic and Islamophobic political theology that, as The Forward describes, has “long supported Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank as part of God’s plan for a Jewish return to Israel — part of the sequence of biblical prophecies that culminates in the Second Coming [of Jesus Christ] (and destruction of world Jewry).” DeSantis, Cotton and Cruz, as well as Nikki Haley, to whom Millstone has given over $800,000 through the SFA Fund and Team Stand For America PACs, have all spoken at summits to court the support of Christians United for Israel, whose founder and chairman John Hagee has blamed Jewish people for the Holocaust, saying that “It was the disobedience and rebellion of the Jews … that gave rise to the opposition and persecution they experienced.” Support for such politicians shows that Millstone isn’t mature enough to help foster a university community that exists outside of hateful, far-right politics.

While it’s common for corporate hacks with abhorrent, right-wing political affiliations to end up on Yale’s board, David Millstone would be a step too far. We know what type of education he endorses: conservative indoctrination likely only rivaled by right-wing evangelical Christian homeschool programs. As someone who grew up in a social and religious environment dominated by evangelicalism in rural Arkansas, I am particularly concerned about a figure like Millstone because his political and educational philanthropy is eerily close to white Christian nationalism. The idea that the United States is somehow divinely or inherently superior and that powerful white men are entitled to dominion over Indigenous land have obvious and dangerous consequences. 

“But wait,” you say, “that has to be the end of the list, right?” Wrong. Millstone is co-CEO of Standard Industries, whose investments range from ARRIS Composites, which is working with the U.S. Army to make “lightweight combat vehicles” and to produce parts for Department of Defense drones, to Aras, a software company that promises to “master weapons system complexity,” to Saildrone, which manufactures unmanned military and police boats that the U.S. Navy uses in the Middle East alongside the Israeli Navy. These investments present a conflict of interest, given the Yale and New Haven communities’ ongoing call for the University to divest from military weapons. 

Millstone’s ties to conservative efforts to stifle the free exchange of ideas and the teaching of complex historical narratives, alongside his company’s investments in the military-industrial complex, demonstrate that he is the wrong person to serve as Yale’s next trustee. He is ill-equipped to protect the free speech of students, faculty, staff and community members, much less engage in good faith in the ongoing conversations at Yale surrounding disclosure and divestment. To Yale’s alumni: please consider voting against indoctrination and corruption. Vote against Millstone. 

PATRICK HAYES is a senior in Silliman College majoring in History and is an organizer with the Yale Endowment Justice Coalition. He can be reached at patrick.hayes@yale.edu