Tag Archive: protest

  1. ELECTION 2016: Conservative views considered unwelcome at Yale


    Despite ongoing campus discussions about free speech, Yale remains deeply unwelcoming to students with conservative political beliefs, according to a News survey distributed earlier this month.

    Nearly 75 percent of 2,054 respondents who completed the survey — representing views across the political spectrum — said they believe Yale does not provide a welcoming environment for conservative students to share their opinions on political issues. Among the 11.86 percent of respondents who described themselves as either “conservative” or “very conservative,” the numbers are even starker: Nearly 95 percent said the Yale community does not welcome their opinions. About two-thirds of respondents who described themselves as “liberal” or “very liberal” said Yale is not welcoming to conservative students.

    “Anybody who supports Donald Trump or is a Republican is just hated,” said one respondent, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of backlash from liberal students. “I just get the general vibe that Republicans aren’t respected for their beliefs as much as maybe the liberal people are.”

    More than 60 percent of the 103 Yale students supporting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said they are “uncomfortable” or “very uncomfortable” discussing their political beliefs at Yale.

    The 2,054 respondents make up 37.58 percent of Yale’s undergraduate population, and results have not been adjusted for bias.

    By contrast, more than 98 percent of respondents said Yale is welcoming to students with liberal beliefs. And among students who described themselves as “liberal” or “very liberal,” 85 percent said they are “comfortable” or “very comfortable” sharing their political views in campus discussions.

    In an interview with the News, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway said the results of the survey were lamentable but unsurprising. Holloway attributed conservative students’ discomfort at sharing their views partly to the pervasiveness of social media.

    “So much of your generation’s world is managed through smart phones. There’s no margin anymore for saying something stupid,” Holloway said. “People have been saying dumb things forever, but when I was your age word of mouth would take a while. Now it’s instantaneous, now context is stripped away.”

    Holloway added that Yale is one of many liberal arts universities where conservative views are highly unpopular, noting that in election years the political environment can become especially heated.

    According to a 2015 article in the Harvard Crimson’s weekly magazine, many conservative students at Harvard College feel like their political opinions are neither respected nor appreciated. And in a recent article in The College Fix, a right-leaning online news outlet, a student at Columbia said that he feared he would be “physically assaulted” if he displayed conservative images or slogans on his clothing.

    Still, Karl Notturno ’17, an outspoken Trump supporter, said he feels comfortable discussing his beliefs, even though he agrees that overall Yale is unwelcoming to conservative viewpoints.

    “I have been very honest for most of my life. I’m not going to change myself to what others want me to be,” Notturno said. “I’m a little bit of an anomaly, but most Trump supporters I know don’t feel comfortable talking about it.”

    Kevin Olteanu ’19, a member of the conservative William F. Buckley, Jr. Program, said his views make him a “rebel in the crowd” who keeps conversations in his friend group interesting.

    Scott Smith ’18 said that while he would be considered a liberal outside of Yale, he is more conservative than most students on campus. Smith said his views have grown more conservative over the course of his time at the University.

    “I think on social issues I’ve become somewhat less liberal mainly because of how incredibly liberal Yale is,” Smith said. “I’m not a fan of going along with the majority on everything. I think I’ve been pushing back against all of that mainly because it’s just frustrating to see only one viewpoint being expressed, and expressed loudly.”

    But not all conservative Yalies feel as comfortable outside of the majority. Grant Richardson ’19 said it sometimes feels “intimidating” to voice conservative opinions during discussion sections.

    Claire Williamson ’17 said it became harder to express conservative viewpoints during the controversies surrounding Calhoun College and the title“master” last fall. Students who did not hold the “popular vocal opinion” of renaming the college and changing the title were seen not only as wrong, she said, but as bad people.

    “I would say it’s a frustrating Catch-22 to be a conservative-leaning moderate or conservative on campus,” Williamson said. “You’re sort of airing your own political views and trying to talk about them with the risk that someone disagrees with you to the point of assuming you’re an immoral person because of them. You either stay silent or you risk alienating some of your friends and groups around you.”

    Still, political science lecturer Jim Sleeper ’69 said unwritten rules about when one should and should not share controversial opinions have existed for decades and are “woven into the fabric” of the University.

    “Some of what we call self-censorship is necessary and good,” he said. “What you disagree about productively depends on certain things you agree not to disagree about. Civility requires self-restraint.”

    Clarification (Oct. 27): Describing the statement he initially provided the News as unintentionally unclear, Dean Jonathan Holloway issued the following: “In no way did I intend to imply that the views of any student or faculty were stupid or should be dismissed. I meant to lament the fact that meaningful conversations were too often reduced or misconstrued in the shortened messages of social media, leading to a lack of understanding. I apologize if my words were misconstrued and taken to mean anything otherwise.”

  2. ANALYSIS: Community skeptical of renaming committee

    1 Comment

    When University President Peter Salovey formed Yale’s new renaming committee this August, he acknowledged that campus administrators fell short during last year’s racially charged naming debates.

    “It is now clear to me that the communitywide conversation about these issues could have drawn more effectively on campus expertise,” Salovey wrote in a University-wide email on Aug. 1. “In particular, we would have benefited from a set of well-articulated guiding principles according to which a historical name might be removed or changed.”

    In the wake of faculty backlash against the University leadership’s decision last April to keep the name of Calhoun College, Salovey tasked the Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming with creating guidelines that will apply to the Calhoun controversy as well as all future naming decisions.

    But since September, the renaming committee — whose task represents the latest administrative attempt to shape a year-and-a-half-long naming debate — has raised new questions in the Yale community about the University’s decision-making process.

    In interviews with the News, various students and faculty said they were skeptical of what they see as Salovey’s current efforts to influence the course of the naming debate. Some argued that Salovey established the committee to justify potentially reversing his original decision to keep the Calhoun name. Others speculated that he wants to distribute responsibility for the upcoming decision across many different campus constituencies. And regardless of views on Salovey’s agenda, nearly every student interviewed said he or she has grown tired of discussing the Calhoun controversy, which has been further drawn out by the committee’s work this semester.

    In recent weeks, Salovey has also faced new criticism over the renaming committee from Yale staff. An October petition calling for the University to appoint a blue-collar worker to the committee — which comprises six faculty members, three alumni, one communications officer, an undergraduate and a graduate student — received over 900 signatures from students, faculty and Yale Dining employees. On Tuesday, at a meeting intended to ease tensions with the blue-collar workforce, Shirley Lawrence, the Yale Dining employee who spearheaded the petition, accused the renaming committee of “disrespect and exclusion.”

    In September and October, the committee held listening sessions in all 12 residential colleges and a drop-in meeting at the Yale Law School. For the most part, those sessions each attracted only a handful of students.

    “I really don’t know what the whole purpose of [the committee] is,” said Scott Smith ’18. “Because they did come out and say they weren’t going to rename it, but if they weren’t going to rename it, why do they have the committee?”


    Last fall, Eli Ceballo-Countryman ’18, a student in Calhoun, played a central role in student protests calling for the college to be renamed. After Yale decided to keep the Calhoun name, Ceballo-Countryman wrote a Facebook post in which she condemned the University for “upholding slavery,” and vowed to transfer out of Calhoun at the earliest opportunity.

    But in September, at the committee’s listening session in Calhoun, Ceballo-Countryman made a different argument: that the establishment of the committee shows the battle to change the name has already been won, and that the next step is to pressure administrators to select a suitable replacement.

    “I’m not too worried about this college anymore,” she said at the meeting. “I know that if this name doesn’t change some people’s heads on campus will actually implode.”

    In a follow-up interview, Ceballo-Countryman said she was convinced that the University intends to rename Calhoun.

    “This was why they wanted the committee in the first place: to find a new way to rename it, without saying that they were erasing last year,” she said.

    Ceballo-Countryman is not the only student who thinks Salovey established the committee in order to reverse the original Calhoun decision. Nine of 10 students interviewed by the News expressed skepticism about the committee’s project, and five of the nine said they believe Salovey set up the committee specifically to rename Calhoun.

    “I’m afraid that they’re starting the whole process with the idea that they want to change the name Calhoun, and they’re developing the process to get to that,” said Kevin Olteanu ’19.

    Other students said they found it odd that the University established a renaming committee so soon after administrators decided to keep the Calhoun name. One student said that a decision to change Calhoun now would be “pandering” to student demands.

    Political science professor Steven Smith said he shares the view that Salovey established the committee in order to reverse the April naming decision. Smith called the renaming of Calhoun “a virtual certainty.”

    “The creation of the renaming committee was an attempt to give cover and to provide a rationale for changing the Calhoun name,” Smith said.

    The committee is scheduled to submit a report outlining the renaming principles by the end of November, according to law professor and renaming committee chair John Witt ’94 LAW ’99 GRD ’00. The decision to keep or change Calhoun based on those principles will lie with Salovey and the Yale Corporation, not the members of the committee.

    Larry Fulton ’19, who has met privately with committee members, said that while he understands students’ concerns, he believes the committee is genuinely dedicated to crafting objective renaming guidelines.

    “Once you meet with the committee, talk with the committee, it becomes very, very evident to people who engage with the committee that they’re trying to set up a list of guidelines or questions that need to be answered before a building is renamed,” Fulton said.

    Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway, who serves on the committee, called the group “a representation of what universities do best.”

    “I can’t control what people think of the politics of why the committee was started or what its agenda happens to be,” Holloway said.

    Asked to respond to student concerns, Salovey referred to his August email to the Yale community in which he wrote that the committee’s role is to develop “clearly delineated principles” on decisions to retain or remove names from University buildings and spaces.

    “After these principles have been articulated and disseminated, we will be able to hold requests for the removal of a historical name — including that of John C. Calhoun [class of 1804] — up to them,” Salovey wrote in the email.


    On Tuesday, Witt and three other committee members — history professor Beverly Gage ’94, economics professor Sharon Oster and Yale communications official Lalani Perry — gathered in Woolsey Hall to meet with members of Yale’s blue-collar workforce.

    Witt organized the event in order to gather input from Yale Hospitality employees, many of whom signed the petition demanding that Salovey appoint a blue-collar representative to the committee. He asked Associate Vice President of Yale Hospitality Rafi Taherian to distribute promotional fliers to dining hall staff, and scheduled the meeting in the early afternoon, when many dining hall workers are on break.

    Still, in the first hour of the session, only one worker arrived to speak: Shirley Lawrence, the employee nominated in the petition to be the blue-collar representative on the committee. Over the course of 20 minutes, Lawrence said that Witt’s fliers — which invited workers to “share their views” at the meeting and on a telephone line — were insulting, and that many dining hall workers do not have time to attend listening sessions, even during their breaks.

    “The tone of the [flier] was just disrespectful,” Lawrence said. “You tell people, ‘Thanks for showing interest, just call and leave a message.’”

    After she spoke, Witt and the other committee members asked Lawrence to suggest other ways the committee could solicit input from dining hall workers. She was unmoved.

    “The level of disrespect and exclusion is so overwhelming that I’m at a loss for words,” Lawrence said. “The history of slavery is in our face every day, and we’re reminded in more ways than one where we come from. Nobody ever thought of a whole group of people, who it’s going to effect.”

    After Lawrence left the room, Witt told the News he was grateful for her thoughts. Four other blue-collar workers attended the remainder of the session.

    Support for blue-collar representation on the committee is not confined to Yale Hospitality employees. More than 700 students and alumni signed the petition calling for Lawrence to be appointed to the committee.

    In response to the petition to add a blue-collar representative to the committee, Salovey told the News that he has “great respect for all of Yale’s staff members,” and said that is why he appointed Lalani Perry, a “staff representative” to the committee. However, Perry is a human resources communications director, and not a blue-collar worker.

    “The group we have in place was never meant to represent any perceived ‘constituencies,’” Salovey said in an email Wednesday night. “I do not think of us as segmented, or divided — we are a pluralistic community united by a shared mission.”


    As the Calhoun discussion enters its second year, students interviewed said they are growing increasingly tired of discussing the topic.

    Last spring, students criticized the University for waiting until April to settle the debates over Calhoun and the title “master,” given that administrators at Princeton and Harvard settled comparable naming decisions in less than six months.

    Over the summer, the Calhoun naming debate was briefly reenergized after an African-American cafeteria worker named Corey Menafee smashed a window panel in the Calhoun dining hall that depicted a slave. A group of New Haven activists has regularly gathered outside Calhoun to protest the college name since the Menafee incident became public.

    In the petition, Yale’s blue-collar workers argued that Menafee’s actions demonstrated the profound effect that the University’s April naming decisions had on Yale employees.

    But now that Menafee — who was initially charged with a felony by the Yale Police Department and resigned — has returned to his job at Yale, student interest in the Calhoun debate has faded.

    “We have had a whole year and more of this naming debate,” said Sarika Pandrangi ’17, former president of the Calhoun College Council, at the Calhoun listening session in September. “For us, it’s a little tiring.”

    Trevor Williams ’17 said he too has noticed that students are tired of the Calhoun conversation, adding that while he would be happy to see the name removed from the college, there are more important issues for Yale students to address.

    It remains unclear precisely when Yale administrators will apply the committee’s principles to the Calhoun decision once they are released. At the Calhoun listening session, Witt speculated that after the committee submits its report, the actual naming decision “could conceivably be a very long process.”

    But for students, another round of debate about the Calhoun name is an exhausting prospect.

    “It’s just no longer at the front of people’s minds,” Fulton said. “At this point, it’s an entirely academic conversation. There’s no more tension, there are many fewer people who are protesting about it, fewer people are developing stress and anxiety and depression. It’s not happening anymore. The longer you extend this conversation — at the end of the day, no matter what happens, two years from now, Calhoun will just be two syllables. It’s just two random syllables.”

  3. What does Ferguson mean?

    Leave a Comment

    There was silence.

    Dignified, mournful, resolved silence. Yale community members, from freshmen to faculty, stood up from their seats in seminars, lectures and meals across campus at 12:01 p.m. on Monday. They walked out in tens, and then hundreds, onto Cross Campus. The attendees, who gathered before Sterling Memorial Library, were from many demographic groups.

    There was no yelling, there were no screams.  A powerful resonance rang in the air, punctuated only by exclamations of hope.

    “It is our duty to fight for our freedom … we have nothing to lose but our chains,” said Alexandra Barlow ’17 to a crowd of roughly 300.

    Barlowe quoted Assata Shakur, a freedom fighter in the 60s and 70s. After the rally on Cross Campus, students marched to City Hall to demand justice.

    The Black Student Alliance at Yale with support from members of the Afro-American Cultural House organized the event — Hands Up Walk Out — in response to a recent grand jury decision that shook the black community at Yale and across the world.



    Screen shot 2014-12-05 at 3.54.51 AM


    On Aug. 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an 18-year-old teenager, was shot dead by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was black. Wilson was white.

    On Aug. 20, 12 grand jurors assembled to adjudicate whether to indict Wilson for a crime. In the American judicial system, a grand jury has the power to indict defenders by evaluating the “probable cause” behind a crime. To indict Wilson, nine of the 12 jurors would have had to agree that enough evidence existed to bring him to trial. They did not.

    On Nov. 24, it was announced that the grand jury elected not to indict Wilson on any charges.

    Screen shot 2014-12-05 at 3.55.47 AM

    Screen shot 2014-12-05 at 3.58.01 AM


    “It was one of those situations where you will always remember where you were when you heard the news,” said Dara Huggins ’17, a black psychology major concentrating on law and social justice.

    Huggins said that she had been following the case since day one, like many in the black community. That night, she was at the movies watching “The Hunger Games.”

    “I knew it would be coming out at 9 p.m., so as soon as I came out of the film, I was constantly refreshing the feed,” she said.

    When she saw the verdict, Huggins stopped in her tracks, in the middle of the street. Her heart dropped.

    Travis Reginal ’16 was having dinner with his girlfriend’s family when the announcement came on the television. The complex case became one of the first discussions he had with her family.

    Following the Ferguson decision, many Yale students came together in their concern for the grand jury’s verdict. A majority of students interviewed said that they were upset but not surprised.

    David Rico ’16, who goes by Campfire David and who is of Native American descent, noted that he has experienced many negative interactions with the police, possibly due to his ethnicity.

    “I do not know the African-American experience, or what it is like to be an African-American in this country, I just know how it feels to be discriminated against from the police,” he said.

    Rico gave the example of the disrespect he was shown when policemen approached him while he stood outside, phoning his parents. The police did not believe he was a Yale student.

    Screen shot 2014-12-05 at 3.57.45 AM

    Yale student groups have taken to social media to raise awareness about the issue. On Wednesday, the Yale College Black Men’s Union released “To My Unborn Son,” showcasing black-and-white photos of members holding whiteboard signs with messages to their future sons.

    “To my unborn son, the world is not yet ready for you, so I will hold you close and make it ready to love you,” reads one. Another simply says, “To my unborn son, I love you.”

    The Afro-American Cultural Center has also played a crucial role in shaping the campus response, providing an open space for grieving and reflection.

    “All it takes when something like this happens is an email to someone as opposed to reaching out and having to start a relationship. You have hung out with them, had study breaks and also had conversations about police brutality before it happens,” said Micah Jones ’16, president of the Black Student Alliance at Yale.

    “I am impressed with Yale’s response … It sends a good positive message about unity,” said President of the Greater New Haven Branch of the NAACP Dori Dumas.

    Dumas said that she was impressed with Yalies’ eagerness to work with the New Haven community to protest and emphasized that she did not think that Yale voices would drown out the experience of black New Haven residents.

    “[I like] the idea that people are really wanting to engage these really complicated issues and are trying to do it in a public forum — that’s what a university should be about,” said Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway.

    Still, Yale students are not of one mind. Some aren’t sure that the grand jury’s decision was unreasonable, or that the shooting was necessarily a matter of race.

    Adelaide Goodyear ’17, a white student, agreed that racism plagues relations between the police and the black community, but said that the decision “is not about getting away with murder — it’s that it’s hard to find evidence in cases like this.”

    Goodyear explained that the grand jury’s verdict was not an assessment of guilt, but an evaluation of the available evidence. She added that although Michael Brown’s death was a clear case of police misconduct, murder charges require large amounts of evidence to go to trial.

    Christopher Taylor ’18, who is also white, agreed with Goodyear, saying, “This is definitely a problem with legal procedure.” He noted that police brutality against blacks is a large problem but that police officers are rarely indicted by grand juries.

    Other students went further, noting that Brown’s death may not have been motivated by race.

    “I think that people overreach and think that it’s an act of ‘the system yet again’ … A lot of people, especially at Yale, don’t even consider that there might not have been probable cause,” said a right-leaning independent student who wished to remain anonymous. “They think they know more than they do.”

    Beckett Lee ’18, who is white and identifies as conservative, called for students to remember Wilson’s humanity. He added that police officers are killed on duty more than people realize and that Wilson could have been in survival mode.

    “It is almost impossible for a human being to weigh all of the potential ramifications of what they are going to do,” he said of the shooting.

    Still, students holding views sympathetic to Wilson appear to be in the minority.

    Goodyear suggested that policemen wear cameras to provide evidence in ambiguous cases. Goodyear’s suggestion echoes that of Brown’s family.

    However, the Eric Garner decision — in which a grand jury declined to indict a white police officer who, in a videotaped encounter, killed a black man in a chokehold — on Wednesday prompted many students to question why no action was taken, even with what they described as clear evidence.

    Yale students will continue to question the Brown and Garner decisions. Three separate events are scheduled for today — a die-in at the law school, an artistic demonstration on Beinecke Plaza and a #ThisEndsToday event on the New Haven Green.

    “My brother is turning 20 next month, which means that he is solidifying his presence in a demographic of young black men between the ages of 19-25 in the United States who are disproportionately targeted by police brutality,” Karleh Wilson ’16 explained. “I worry about [my brother’s] safety under the hands of the law. My brother should feel safe among the presence of policemen, but he does not, and this is the same for all men of color his age in America.”