More unconscionable “demands”, this time from Yale students

November 16, 2015 • 9:00 am

Yesterday’s New York Times had an article (“Yale college dean torn by racial protests“) about Yale’s first black Dean of the College, Jonathan Holloway, who’s apparently been doing a good job, but—according to some students—not nearly good enough in light of the recent tumult on campus ignited by two incidents. The first is the reported refusal of the ∑AE fraternity to admit a black woman to a party because of her race, an incident that, according to the Washington Post, may not have happened. The other is the fracas about Halloween costumes, and I’ve written about that before (see here, here and here). I take the side of Erika and Nicholas Christakis on that one, but the students called for their resignation or firing after the Christakises refused to condemn all Halloween costumes that could potentially be offensive. Instead, they stood up for free speech and the right of students to make their own decisions about what to wear.

There were also incidents at Yale’s Buckley Forum, in which disaffected students protested a free-speech symposium and reportedly spat on some attendees. Following that, Yale’s President and Dean Holloway co-wrote a temperate letter to the University community, affirming the University’s commitment to free speech as well as to diversity.

Following the onerous “demands” of Amherst College students that I mentioned yesterday, now Yale protestors have issued a set of equally onerous demands that I reproduce below. These are from “Down Magazine,” come from a group called “Next Yale” (self described as “an alliance of Yale students of color and our allies”), and are appended to a letter addressed to President Peter Salovey, Dean Jonathan Holloway, and senior members of the Yale administration. You can read the letter at the site, which argues that the climate at Yale is one of blatant and hurtful racism, and then ends with the list of demands, insisting that “We expect Peter Salovey [Yale’s President] to publicly announce his intention to implement these demands by November 18, 2015.” Good luck with that!

Here’s what the protestors want (their own words and emphases):

1)  An ethnic studies distributional requirement for all Yale undergraduates and the immediate promotion of the Ethnicity, Race & Migration program to departmental status

a.      The promotion of Native American Studies, Chicanx & Latinx Studies, Asian American Studies, and African Studies to program status under the ER&M department.

b.     Curricula for classes that satisfy the ethnic studies distributional requirement must be designed by Yale faculty in the aforementioned areas of study

2)   Mental health professionals that are permanently established in each of the four cultural centers with discretionary funds

a.     More mental health professionals of color in Yale Mental Health.

3)   An increase of two million dollars to the current annual operational budget for each cultural center.

a.     Five full-time staff members in each of the cultural centers

b.     Additional emergency and miscellaneous funds from the provost’s office to support the needs of first-generation, low-income, undocumented, and international students

4)   Rename Calhoun College. Name it and the two new residential colleges after people of color.

a.     Abolish the title “master”

b.     Build a monument designed by a Native artist on Cross Campus acknowledging that Yale University was founded on stolen indigenous land.

5)   Immediate removal of Nicholas and Erika Christakis from the positions of Master and Associate Master of Silliman College

a.     The development of racial competence and respect training and accountability systems for all Yale affiliates

b.     The inclusion of a question about the racial climate of the classrooms of both teaching fellows and professors in semester evaluations.

c.      Bias reporting system on racial discrimination and an annual report that will be released to the Yale community.

6)   The allocation of resources to support the physical well-being of international, first-generation, low-income, and undocumented students, in these ways, at these times:

a.     Stipends for food and access to residential college kitchens during breaks

b.     Dental and optometry services implemented as part of the Basic Yale Health plan

c.      Eight financial aid consultants who are trained to deal specifically with financial aid application processes of international and undocumented students

What we have here is students trying to dictate a specific curriculum that must be taken by all Yale undergraduates, as well as new departments—all designed to promote views ideologically compatible with those of the protestors. I see this as a form of fascism.

If there are indeed disproportionately few resources going to poor or minority students, as seen in demands 3 and 6, I am sure Yale will look at that. Item 4a, abolishing the antiquated term “Master” for the residential head of colleges seems reasonable to me, but the rest of item 4 does not.

Finally, asking Yale to fire Nicholas and Erika Christakis is odious and reprehensible: it’s an attempt to punish two good residential college heads for speaking their minds. Yale will not do this, as is clear from the letter of President Salovey and Dean Holloway, but this demand discredits the students. How dare they try to punish a woman who wrote an email that could only be seen as offensive only by those looking hard for offense? (Her husband, who had no hand in the email, is apparently complicit as well.)

I am a bit torn about all this, as when I was in college I was involved in the anti-Vietnam war movement, and we asked (not demanded) that individual faculty cancel classes on one day so we could go to demonstrations in Washington. They didn’t, of course, but I remember the passion with which we opposed an unjust war, and I so try to understand the Yale students’ passion against racism, and to understand what form that racism could take at Yale.  And when, at graduation, my college (William and Mary) asked a conservative state representative to be the official speaker, we didn’t demand a more liberal speaker, but organized a “counter commencement” with Charles Evers, a civil rights activist and brother of slain activist Medgar Evers. The idea that we could issue “demands” to the College didn’t cross our minds. Still, if racism is as blatant at Yale as some black students maintain, I’d be with them in trying to change things.

So why, given my “radical” past, am I critical of these lists of student demands that are sweeping the country? For one thing, the demands at Yale go beyond the pale, calling as they do for mandatory indoctrination of all Yale students as well as the firing of ideological opponents. They are bullying, violations of free speech, and fascistic in nature. And too many of the demands deal with individual offense, like a call for more psychological help and repression of open debate. That seems a bit solipsistic.

What has created this generation of overly-entitled students, who have spawned movements spreading to many campuses? According to Brendan O’Neill at Spiked, it’s my generation. In his new piece “The ‘Yale snowflakes’: who made these monsters?“,  this all is the natural outcome of the adoption of college speech codes, trigger warnings, and a “therapeutic outlook” created by, well, my contemporaries:

It is indeed interesting, and worrying, that students are so sensitive and censorious today. But I have a question for the hand-wringers, the media people, academics and liberal thinkers who are so disturbed by what they’re calling the ‘Yale snowflakes’: what did you think would happen? When you watched, or even presided over, the creation over the past 40 years of a vast system of laws and speech codes to punish insulting or damaging words, and the construction of a vast machine of therapeutic intervention into everyday life, what did you think the end result would be? A generation that was liberal and tough? Come off it. It’s those trends, those longstanding trends of censorship and therapy, that created today’s creepy campus intolerance; it’s you who made these monsters.

Well, I exculpate myself, but O’Neill—a fierce defender of free speech—does have a point.

129 thoughts on “More unconscionable “demands”, this time from Yale students

  1. Time for a whiff of the rhetorical grape, preferably from both administration and the sane student body. Loud, relentless, and daily mockery is in order.

  2. I wonder how it is these Yale students would counter the notion that they should be expelled if someone with an opposing viewpoint decided this should be their punishment for dissent. Talk about arguing from a position of weakness.

  3. Not being a part of the academic system, I’m sure others will have much more to say on this than I. However, I did go to school once and have two cents to offer.

    My first reaction is – Who is in charge, anyway? Also, do the students see any previous history of success in people taking over ownership and management of firms and institutions in this country? I’m not sure that “blame” can be laid at anyone’s feet but there is a total lack of understanding going on with these students. What the hell business model is this – the today everyone gets to be Stalin.

    The absurdity of their demand regarding acknowledging the university was founded on land stolen from native Americans is a perfect example of their need to grow up. Almost any land they walk on within this country could require the same. The houses where they grew up and where their parents live. At any establishment they enter to do business and maybe eat. Are these kids really that stupid?

    1. ‘The absurdity of their demand regarding acknowledging the university was founded on land stolen from native Americans is a perfect example of their need to grow up.’

      How is acknowledging the genocidal actions of Anglo-Americans against indigenous peoples, who had been long on the land before the first colonists from England arrived, a sign of childish behavior?

      1. Childish in the sense that most of us understand this without asking for declarations. Did any of them ask this of the previous schools they went to? Did they ask it of anyone, anywhere. No they did not. They got their little idea right there at Yale and threw it in as one of their demands. Did they ask for monuments to acknowledge their own ancestors bad treatment of African Americans or Native Americans. How many will be demanding the same at any company they visit after school to apply for work? How many childish actions do you want? As many as it takes to grow up I assume.

      2. I thought that was explained very clearly in the original comment. By their own standards should these students not be required to acknowledge that a large part of their entire existence has been dependent on utilization of land that was stolen from Native Americans before they demand similar from others?

        If this seems ridiculous in some way that is probably because it is.

      3. An issue that I never see brought up regarding debt to Native Americans or reparations to African Americans is that for most of us, our ancestors were not involved. Mine were being treated pretty badly by the British too in Ireland in the 1800s. Is it ever racist to lump all caucasians together? Or is the thinking that being white we’ve got it made in the U.S., so we owe for whatever anyone who had the same skin pigment did in the past. Frankly, though Native Americans have my sympathy I am not sorry for anything anyone did in this country before the year my ancestors arrived. Anyone who thinks I’ve had an easy life because I’m white is wrong.

        1. Within living memory, my home was invaded and occupied by the Germans. Does that bother me? Not in the slightest.

          According to the “logic” of these whiners, I should be deserving of an apology from every German I meet.

          Spoiled precious narcissistic little brats.

          1. And I want an apology from the French, for invading my country in 1066.

            (And don’t anyone dare suggest I might be partly descended from those same French. That suggestion would be… unacceptable. It would also require that I apologise to myself, which is plainly daft).

            I also want apologies from the Danes, Norwegians, and anyone else whose ancient ancestors had the nerve to invade England.

            So there.


          2. What happens if you have lots of different ancestors? My ancestors have been in two separate places of the new world for a long time so does the Irish and Scottish parts get an apology from my English part? What about my Welsh part? And does my German part have to apologize to everyone else? But what if the German part is also Ashkenazi Jew? So no apology then? What about the French,money have apologize to someone, surely! And the Maori part, does it get an apology from all of them?

            1. All this arises from the non-sensical notion that we are guilty of the sins of our ancestors, all the way back to the mythical Adam and Eve. There’s probably not a person alive who doesn’t have one set of ancestors who oppressed another set of ancestors, who in their turn likely oppressed another set. I live on land that once was likely part of a dense forest through which Native Americans trod long before any people of European or recent African ancestry arrived and where once a great variety of animals passed through. The Arabs were once the imperialists, taking over all of north Africa as well much of southwest Asia, imposing their beliefs on others, slaying those who resisted them and imposing stiff taxes on those who did not convert. Actually, now the extremist Muslims are the last imperialists to attempt to use force of arms and terror to conquer new territories. They are pushing back against the allure of Western culture, which for all its failings has allowed for a greater degree of freedom of expression and thought than perhaps any other that has ever existed. Religious nuts still abound but they have no right to impose their ignorant dogma on anyone else. The Islamists are the worst of many religious zealots who resort to violence in their mania to turn back the clock to a world in which to offend their sensibilities in any way with word or art was to beg to be executed.

              1. Yeah, bloody ancestors, couldn’t keep their trousers zipped up. Always chasin’ the wrong breed of women.


    2. They see to fine with money that has slave holders all over it. Of course they’re millenials, so they may never have seen actual cash.

      (Ever seen a table of eight millenials throw eight credit cards in a pile so the server can sort it out?)

      1. “(Ever seen a table of eight millenials throw eight credit cards in a pile so the server can sort it out?)”

        Not yet. But I’ve seen the occasional redneck throw crumpled up dollar bills on the counter for the convenience store clerk to have to flatten out into usable condition.

    3. The European settlers had been abused in their former home and needed a safe space. So that pretty much justified whatever they needed to do. /sarcasm.

      1. Some of them had left home to go to America because they were NOT free to act out their religious prejudices at home, but thought they’d be able to do so in America.

  4. A good essay but why do you want to accede to any fascist demands? Would you object to master classes in the music department, or chess masters? It is one thing to investigate serious issues, such as alleged racism, quite another is irenic capitulation on vapid grievance mongering.

  5. Fascistic, yes…but there’s also an extortionist ring to all these “demands”. Provide us $2M, or else…fire these people, or else…. Creepy nearing criminal.

  6. I want to comment on the renaming of Calhoun College. It received this name in 1932 and was named after John C. Calhoun (1782-1850) of South Carolina. Calhoun was one of the most prominent and significant politicians of the first half of the nineteenth century. As Wikipedia notes: “Calhoun held major political offices, serving terms in the United States House of Representatives, United States Senate and as the seventh Vice President of the United States (1825–1832), as well as secretary of war and state.”

    In the context of the current controversy at Yale, it is important to understand that Calhoun was an arch defender of slavery. Noted historian Richard Hofstadter referred to him at the “Marx of the Master Class.” It is reprehensible that an institution dedicated to liberal ideas should honor this man. The name of the college should have been changed a long time ago.

    As an aside, it is equally reprehensible that several United States military bases are named after Confederate soldiers. Time magazine recently had this headline: “U.S. Flag Waves Over 10 Army Bases Proudly Named for Confederate Officers.” What other country would be so weird as to designate military bases with the names of traitors?

    1. Hear, hear! I never understood why some southern states wanted to display the confederate flag on their state capitols. It seems to me most unamerican.

      1. There are some in the South who still consider their states as sovereign entities under occupation by a foreign power, namely the U.S., and still dream of secession. These are the ones who revere the confederate flag.

        1. That’s quite extreme. How dangerous are these people? I mean, if I truly believed my countries was occupied, I would seriously consider taking up arms!

          1. In at least a few (maybe many) instances, the modern confederates learn to their dismay that their ancestors who lived during the U.S. Civil War did not actually pro-Union. Among them is one of my uncles (my dad and his other siblings overcame the racism they were raised on in 1950s northeast Texas, but the one brother, the only to have obtained a college education and become a Naval officer retained his racism, even though he now has two bi-racial grandchildren, one of whom recently came out as a lesbian). Extensive education, alas, does not always reduce bigotry.

            1. Oops, make that “…were actually pro-Union and did not support the Confederacy.” I’ll blame my goof to typing while tired and with a kitten bouncing around my desk and wanting to play (and irritating my big black cat).

            2. A PhD only speaks about discipline and focus on field of expertise (and any lower degree for that matter).

              Degrees, and education, should have never been mistaken with “spiritual” (substitute with becoming humane or whatever) enlightenment.

              But there’s this pernicious insistence that degrees make you a better person. They don’t. They make you a better professional in your field.

              In fact, I’ve found that intelligent people are simply more sophisticated in their cruelty and pettiness.

    2. Well said, and I agree fully about changing the name of Calhoun College. New England, before and after the Revolution, became wealthy on the backs of slaves and slave-trading (triangular trade); New England is also culpable in the violent expulsion of indigenous peoples from what were their national lands. Acknowledgement of the sources of a university’s tainted wealth is a necessary step in its self-understanding and the cleansing of its collective conscience.

      1. Here in Jacksonville, Florida, there was a high school, built in the late 1950s, named for Nathaniel Bedford Forrest — specifically because he was a founder of the Ku Klux Klan and in response to the Brown v. Board of Education decision of the Supreme Court. A friend of mine, Lance, a local college professor, took a prominent role in agitating to get the name changed, which it finally was a few years ago (one of my nephews, who is half-Filipino, graduated from N.B.F. High School in 2002). Lance wound up receiving several death threats for his stance. Yeah, this is all about “heritage” — a heritage of hate and discrimination.

    3. I find it odd that you who go by the name Historian, elect to impose your 21st century values/morals on people who lived in the 19th century. In the study of History that can be very distorting and confusing. I have heard it said by many historians that if this is what you do in the study of history, you would be best to not make the trip.

      1. As an historian writing about history, I attempt to be objective as possible without imposing my moral values on trying to explain the past. By the way, some would argue that achieving this goal is impossible for anybody. That is, it is difficult to totally exclude an author’s moral values on writing about the past. This whole issue has been greatly debated.

        As a citizen living today, I have the right, as does anybody else, to view the past through the lens of current moral values. Of course, prior to the Civil War the morality of slavery was hotly argued. Today, you would be hard pressed to find defenders of slavery. Thus,in my role as a citizen, my condemnation of John C. Calhoun is appropriate and no more conflicts with my writing of history as does the writings of any historian who attempts to explain the past.

        In Germany during the Nazi regime many institutions and places were named after Nazi luminaries. Would you criticize post-World War II Germans for renaming them?

        1. I see that Historian has posted while I was writing my comment.
          I had thought to add to the end of my original comment that it might be reasonable to rename places that had been named after someone truly awful, but had decided not to. But we might remember that Calhoun College was probably originally named after Calhoun, as Fort Bragg was surely originally named after Braxton Bragg; and while we might undo the renamings of the Nazis (and the Soviets – St. Petersburg is St. Petersburg again after a stint as Leningrad), it is another thing to change names that were acceptable when first used.

        2. I’m sorry but your comments to not bold well and neither does the comparison with the Nazis. You called Calhoun reprehensible or the same as by saying they were for not changing the name.

          John C Calhoun was born and lived in South Carolina from 1782-1850. He served in both houses of Congress and was Vice-President at one time. His ideology was very much in tune with nearly everyone in South Carolina. How it could have been any different would have been something really historical.

          Slavery was not hotly argued in South Carolina at all and Calhoun was likely their most favorite son. You have the right to view the past through your current morals but to me, it is no way to study or report on history.

          To put your or my morals up against the people in the South in 1850 and make judgement on them is just wrong. Lincoln was in favor of shipping all the African-Americans back so he must have been really evil as well.

          1. So we should excuse people in the past for lacking the moral awareness that we have since developed, fine. But that doesn’t mean we have to name buildings after them, or refuse to change those names in light of our current awareness.

            There’s a building on my campus named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, the founder of the KKK. There are calls to rename the building, and a committee working on it. Would you object to that as well?

            1. There is a considerable difference between excusing past morals and making judgments on those people for their attitudes. That is my concern – how you look at people and events in the study of the past, because if you make your 21st century judgments on them or their actions you are wasting your time in the study.

              Based on this hind-sight judgment we should certainly remove that Washington monument and that Jefferson creation there in DC. These fellows were slave owners, who bought and sold and borrowed human beings to make a living. If you say, HA, we know today that Calhoun was a slave owner so get his name off the building, how the hell is Washington any different.

              Some of you may want to re-write history and clean the buildings and Army camps of these dreaded names but I find that just a little bit insane. I would rather read and learn from history than reorganize it in my own morality. Doing what you talk about is what they do in Japan after the war or what Russia did. Hell, they even do it to the history books in the south.

              1. You confuse the study of history with making moral judgments about historical events. When you study history, you try to understand what was going on at the time. This includes understanding in the context of the time what people were thinking, advocating, and doing. Most historians attempt to do this in their writings without drawing moral judgments on the characters living at that time. But, as any professional historian will tell you, interpretations of the past change depending on the historical eras they are written. Different things are emphasized. This is the nature of historical writing. For example, the historical interpretation of the role of slavery in the coming of the Civil War has changed since it started. If you think that historical writing or interpretation of events is or should be unchanging, you have no idea how the historical profession works. While objectivity in historical writing is certainly a worthy goal, you’re very unlikely to find it.

                But readers of history do and should draw moral judgments. If they didn’t draw moral judgments, they would be totally amoral, which is apparently your viewpoint and in my view untenable. You have certainly commented and given your opinion on current events. Why should it be different than past events? And where do you draw the line between current and past events?

                Your attitude towards slavery and presumably other historical events such as the Holocaust seems to be: “Well, I studied these events and know what happened, but beyond that I have no opinion. If a public place is named after an historical character who is now viewed as less than admirable, too bad, we should still honor the person because to do otherwise would be imposing our moral views on the past.” I totally reject such a view. Renaming public structures is simply saying that a person previously viewed as admirable is not now viewed that way and should no longer be honored.

                You mentioned Jefferson. Indeed, he was a slave owner and not a very good one. Many others of the founding fathers were slave owners, for example, Washington, Madison and Monroe. When evaluating these people in a moral context as a citizen, not an historian, I take this into account.

      2. There are shitload of abolitionists from Boston. Maybe name the college for one of them? The ones who we don’t have to impose our 21st century values on since they were right at the time.

      3. I find it odd that you who go by the name Historian, elect to impose your 21st century values/morals on people who lived in the 19th century.

        He isn’t doing that, he’s saying that by keeping the name, we in the 21st century are giving tacit approval to the views espoused by a 19th century individual.

        1. We also have a Holiday called Columbus Day. Are we approving of his actions and morals as well. If you do not understand History then you should really just stay home.

            1. Understanding history means knowing that even by today’s values, Columbus was a very despicable guy, he was not by the moral culture of his time. He was very much in line with the Catholic church on these things. So then…if people today say, Why does this guy get a holiday, we who do understand history know that this is a stupid question.

              That is understanding history.

              1. You’re not getting it. Who cares what people at the time thought of Columbus? This issue is whether we wish to pretend that he stood for things we now value. Many people feel that by continuing to celebrate his name, we approve of genocide. This may or may not be true for everyone, but one’s position on it has nothing to do with understanding history.

      4. What’s your take on the values of 19th century U.S. abolitionists, values – so far as I can see – indistinguishable from those of their 20th and 21st century kindred spirits?

    4. I can’t usefully comment on Calhoun College, but here in Northern California we’ve had our own fuss about places named after Confederates. Fort Bragg, about 10 miles north of Mendocino, was named after Braxton Bragg, then a US Army captain stationed at the Presidio of San Francisco. Bragg later became a Confederate general. The whole story seems to have come and gone in a couple of weeks: most of the locals didn’t want change, and the proponents seem to have given up. [Incidentally, I believe Fort Bragg in North Carolina, one of the country’s larger military bases, is named after the same person.] My view is let’s not get into the old Stalinist habit of erasing people from photos and books when they fall from grace.

    5. “t is equally reprehensible that several United States military bases are named after Confederate soldiers. ”

      As a Southerner, I agree, but I’m not sure that you would find a large percentage of other Southerners who would do so. I think that an effort to change the names on this reasoning would encounter a large amount of pushback and further hostility towards liberals.

    6. Canada has schools (at least one) named for someone *executed* for treason, though in this case it is probably a bit of “right a wrong” and “poke _les Anglais_ in the eye” (the school is named for Louis Riel.)

    7. I’m leaning toward agreeing, but I hesitate on Calhoun (not knowing much about him except what’s above) simply because over time there must have been many politicians north and south who accepted or even supported slavery. It was a sign of the times, unfortunately. However, to completely delete them from history seems overkill since, as in the case of Calhoun, many have made significant contributions in other domains. It’s a little like damning Washington and Jefferson to hell for owning slaves in the 18th century. Are all the presidents on Mt. Rushmore blame free? Which ones would like to chisel off?
      Disclaimer – I do not nor have I ever supported slavery.

    8. I don’t see why confederates are called “traitors”. They’re no more traitors than our own founding fathers, and in fact less. Our own Declaration of Independence states that governance must be based on the consent of the governed. Of course that never happens in practice, but unlike the monarchy we broke away from, governance by consent was part of the theory behind our new American government.

      The southern states seceded. They declared independence. They withdrew their consent. That is not a betrayal of the country unless they had a duty to remain in the union. And why would there be such a duty? Secession is not treason.

      1. I certainly understand why a vast number of people have such a poor understanding of history, particularly American History. As many here demonstrate they have no ability or concern to set aside their 21st century values when attempting to understand people in a different period. It is really impossible to discuss the subject when they see no need to separate their culture from a people who lived hundreds of years ago.

        But regarding your difficulty understanding secession and our government — The Declaration of Independence had nothing to do with our form of government or how it works. For this you need to look at the Constitution. So the idea of consent was not an issue.

        Secession was brand new back in 1860/61 when the southern states began this action. The current govt. at the time did not know what to do about it and some did not think anything could be done. When Lincoln took the office he felt and said differently. He did call it treason and illegal. His belief was that no state had the right to leave without permission from the federal government. It was the federal govt. that made a state and only the federal govt. can allow it to leave the union. So we could say that consent was in the hands of the Federal Govt. if you like that word.

        And think about it. If Lincoln had not decided this and believed it worth going to war to protect, we wouldn’t have a U.S.A. today, at least not in its current form. And you are probably right, the King of England probably did think the colonies were traitors but then they lost the war.

        1. I’m not claiming the Declaration of Independence is legally binding, but it gives the justification for the formation of our own country and the ideals upon which it was expected to be based. Unilaterally declaring independence from England was considered not only our right but our duty. And then to turn around and say states don’t have the right to do the same? Hypocrisy.

          Anyway, I wasn’t referring to them, but to us: people in the 21st century. People today who refer to the confederates as traitors should explain why those states had a duty to remain in the union, and a duty more important than the duty mentioned in the Declaration of Independence that justified our own secession from England. Until then, I don’t see how secession is treason. Calling them “tratiors” just seems like a slur. Not thought out.

          1. Do cities have the right to secede from states?

            By the way, what is the “Greatest State in the Land of the Free”? To hear the prefatory, ulululating speechifying of each state delegation prior to casting its votes at the two major quadrennial political conventions, one would think every state is The Greatest State.

            1. The argument was that not all rebellions are the same. Sam Adams said that farmers who participated in Shay’s Rebellion should have been hanged for treason. When asked how this was different from the Revolution, he said that rebelling against an unelected Parliament and king was one thing, but rebelling against an elected republic was treason. If you participate in an election, you are agreeing to abide by the results–otherwise, what is the point in holding an election? If you can secede because you did not like the result of an election–as the Confederates did–a republic would be impossible. This would be anarchy, which would be as fatal to republican government as tyranny is.

            2. Personally I think everything comes down to power and there are no “rights” except those granted by those in power. A city might say it has the right, but the larger state and nation have the power.

              But if the larger state and nation tout the principle of governance by consent and if they were themselves formed through secession (and don’t consider themselves traitors), then I can point out the apparent hypocrisy if the city was called traitorous for attempting the same thing.

            3. “By the way, what is the “Greatest State in the Land of the Free”?”

              Dunno, but the greenest one is Tennessee.

              (Jeez, if anyone wants to read some blatant racism, go look up the lyrics to the Davy Crockett theme.)

      1. Well maybe they should be (it was well written) but they shouldn’t be proud of their commentators. Some of them are the most vile kind of racist.

    1. Thanks for that, I had no idea.

      Sadly, I suspect there are black Dartmouth students who feel the same way as the editorial writer. Wonder where their safe space is?

  7. Isn’t that interesting that the first African-American dean of Yale College is also the first to be deprived of the power to hire, retain faculty, and tenure the deserving? Seems to me the new face of racism, let’s have a negro figurehead for appearance sake.

  8. It would be nice if they documented the background and nature of their grievances in a little more detail. Perhaps there is an appendix?

  9. Has anyone seen any articles that would provide an indication as to what percentage of the Yale students actually support these demands? I’m wondering whether this could be a situation akin to the “Starbucks red cup” news explosion which, as far as I could tell, consisted of a handful of christian nutjobs who were offended and a gazillion christian and non-christian folks who thought those nutjobs were, well, nutjobs. In other words, although the media portrayed this as a huge controversy, in reality the media attention was almost exclusively driven by the adverse reaction of the sane folks to the nujobs.

    1. Oops, that final “nujobs” was obviously intended to be “nutjobs.” (Why are my mistakes always more obvious after they actually show up in the comments?)

      1. It happens to all of us. It even happens to me when I proof read. I even have days where I get so sick of pointing out the errors in my comments, I just give up and decide everyone reading them is smart enough to work out what I meant. 🙂

      2. As Heather says, it happens to all of us. I often find that I hadn’t even noticed a typo until the author points it out; again reiterating Heather, context frequently fills in the gaps nicely.

    2. “Has anyone seen any articles that would provide an indication as to what percentage of the Yale students actually support these demands?”

      How many students would admit they don’t? That would make them gross, and racist.

    1. I sort of agree but I think they would be far better of framing them as requests or suggestions as a way to move forward. Making “demands” appears petulant, unreasonable, and childish, as Randy points out.

      “Historian” has given some good reasons why a name change might be considered. Those should be included in the request to give it some context, and explain the effect the name might have on some.

      Otoh, building statues, employing people based on their ethnicity, handing out millions to be used with little account etc seems to me to be taking advantage of the current climate. As has been pointed out above, it reeks of extortion.

      1. Well I think the demand for dental and vision is reasonable, but that’s because I think Universities should be providing those things anyway. I have no problem with students protesting for better health benefits anyway – doesn’t mean I’ll always agree with them, but it does seem the sort of University policy decision that is often going to require student activity in order to deter the administration from cost- and service- cutting behavior.

        I’m also surprised about this stipend idea. Do they really think Yale is going to launder their parents’ board costs? “Pay us for food, and we’ll give the money back to your kid in untraceable cash.” What a great idea! Because that’s basically what they’re asking for. That or essentially free board funds. Either way, bad idea.

      2. To be honest, asking nicely rarely gets you what you want. It never got anyone their civil rights, did it? But some of these demands are crazy. I wonder which ones the really want.

        1. It depends on the situation. They’ve protested about the situation, and I have no issue there. Now they’re supposedly in the resolution/negotiation stage. Being reasonable at this stage, at least unless or until the university isn’t, can only help imo.

  10. What would these students do if they had to endure the withering commentary of William Buckley, Gore Vidal, or Christopher Hitchens, or the wit of George Carlin, Lenny Bruce, or Dick Gregory during his comedic days.

  11. Articles over the weekend about how the protesters at Mizzou are upset that the Paris attacks are drawing attention away from them. Some actually equated the experience of Mizzou students with the attacks in Paris: “Interesting how the news Reports are covering the Paris attacks but said nothing about the terrorist attacks at #Mizzou.” (link)

    1. I saw a note somewhere (can’t find it at the moment) from the UofM that at least some of those t***ts were forged.

  12. The students many not grasp it, but the length of the list and the demand that all points be met in two days seem to ensure that their points will not met. That way, they’ll be able to continue to be butthurt.

    Is that the true objective?

    1. Their behavior is thought out with precisely the same clarity and precision as that of the 3 year old lying on his back in the cereal aisle at your local grocer.

        1. The three year old is actually in a slightly more tenable position. He’ll be happy simply having the cereal whereas these students will only be happy having their cereal, ensuring you also eat the same cereal, and ensuring that alternate choices for cereal are entirely removed from the marketplace.

    1. Racial competency.

      The examples the author leads off with are examples of stupid people, i.e. a general lack of competency. Getting past those stupid people, what I gather from this article is that the idea is to have some kind of sense where different people in a classroom might be coming from so you don’t freak them out somehow while trying to teach them.

      It’s probably useful to give such things a little thought. If a student in your class has a brother who has been arrested and put in jail, or worse beat up by a policeman, they might have a different feeling about the policemen in your classroom story than your less affected students do. Being sensitive to the possible different life experiences of students doesn’t seem like a horrible idea, except when it comes in a Maoist kind of re-education format.

      Even if some elements of the idea have merit, I think calling it “racial competence” will precisely not achieve the desired end because it only emphasizes the idea that race is really really important, which is the original sin itself.

      1. “I think calling it “racial competence” will precisely not achieve the desired end because it only emphasizes the idea that race is really really important, which is the original sin itself.”


  13. I went to Yale. I have to say, in agreement with some people above, I too have long thought the name of Calhoun College should be changed. It is ridiculous that a Yale residential college is named after one of the most famous defenders of slavery. I’d do that way before I would abolish the term Master, which to my knowledge derives from old British University meanings of the term. I agree that if there are some serious funding imbalances, the University should look into that. I think the rest of the demands are not productive.

    1. Yes, please scrub the place clean of any reference to slavery. If we could get it out of the history books and never use the word in public, that would be good too. Then it would look just like our Constitution, except some might wonder what that little 3/5th thing is in there. We’ll just say they were working on fractions.

  14. Absurd…especially the demands about allocating millions of dollars to the cultural centers’ annual budgets. How did they come up with the $2 million for each center, how would it be allocated, who would do the oversight, where is the money going to come from? As I opened, asking a University for millions of dollars annually with no real plan of how the money should be spent or where it will come from is simply absurd and is only good for a chuckle.

  15. Some of these are fine. 3b and 6 seem to be the same demand, and providing resources specifically for these at-risk students should be a good thing. I would be surprised, though, to learn that there are significant #s of such students attending an Ivy league school.

    1. There might be significant numbers of international and first-generation students at Yale, but of course they’re not necessarily low-income as well. I think it’s potentially rough on any students who have to stay in the residential colleges during breaks, for whatever reason; kitchen facilities in the dorms are often limited, which leaves the students to find fast food or take-out options. That can get expensive really quickly.

      I’d be surprised if there are more than a handful of undocumented students at almost any university – AFAIK they aren’t eligible for student loans and other financial aid.

      1. Policy when I was at uni was that after first year, the international students were put into self-catering apartments on campus, often in one-region-of-origin groups. The apartments were 6 individual bedrooms, communal shower, several toilets, and communal kitchen (2 cookers, but only one oven).
        It worked reasonably well, and if you didn’t like your flatmates, you could be assigned to another flat (or if you had friends in another flat). It worked well, though when I came back from a fieldwork trip and was put in with 5 Malaysians, I did get annoyed at the 07:00 “coughing chorus” from the ablutions. But you live with minor discomforts.

    2. If you’re under the impression that Ivy League schools are dominated by privileged white kids, that has not be the case for several decades. Student populations at these schools have fewer whites and more immigrants than the US population as a whole.

      Here are some actual numbers.

  16. Item 4a, abolishing the antiquated term “Master” for the residential head of colleges seems reasonable to me, but the rest of item 4 does not.

    I’m not familiar with the intricacies of the US university system (if indeed, there is one “system” – doubtful), but although I only possess a Batchelors degree (oops, trigger gender-intolerent word?), with 30 years of working experience, the Fellowship of one professional Society and I’m working on a second relevant Society, I think it is safe to say that my peers think I have achieved a degree of “mastery” in my subject. To me, that is all that the term “Master of Science” (or an MA, on slightly different terms) means to me.
    I can see that people whose family history includes watching “Roots” might just possibly have a reaction to “Massa”. Understandable, but I shrug off the implications of “Batchelor”, and these delicate snowflakes need to grow a pair (ovaries, testicles, or one of each ; to taste).
    Do any of our German speakers (oh, including PCCE) have suggestions for an alternative term. “Meister”? “Kommandant”? “Herr Doktor Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus)”? Or perhaps the many languages of India have something between “dalit” and “guru” which fits better?

    1. “…Batchelors degree (oops, trigger gender-intolerent word?”

      Unless you spell it differently in the UK, that’s Chiropteran-intolerant.

      “…whose family history includes watching “Roots” ” Just watching Roots? Roots is well worth watching by those of any family histories.

      “… to grow a pair (ovaries, testicles, or one of each ; to taste).”

      LOL, that cracked me up!

      Let’s not mention the fact that your (humorous, I know) suggestions, (Meister, Herr), as well as “Master” & the “Fellowship” in your first graf all have a certain, er, masculinity to them…

      1. Yes, I took their offence at Master to be because of the masculinity of it, but then I’m a white female and was not sufficiently sensitive to the possible Massa component to it. Getting a Master’s degree would not bother me; wouldn’t want to call it Mistress’s degree, would I?

        1. With degrees, its worth pointing out to students that most working folk consider them to stand for Bull S**t, More S**t, and Piled Higher and Deeper. There’s no equivalent insult for JD’s because having one already makes you a lawyer.

  17. On a slightly different tack, is anyone taking bets on how long before the “special snowflakes” take on the horrible destructive and threatening implications of “hail.” You see, hail used to be a “special snowflake”, but through exposure to changing environments has metamorphosed into a hard-core object capable of denting metal and tripping up the unwary.
    Special snowflakes are going to have a hard time in the gas-axe of the outside world.

  18. I wonder if campuses (campii? Daine?) have started editing next year’s “Student Handbook” with phrasing like “You do not have the right to not be offended. … You do not have the right to not have your opinions challenged.”
    Get the issue out there and up front. (Apologise to readers with severe spinal deformities for whom the word “front” is anteriorist.)
    Frivolity aside, given his extensive posting (and opinion-tasting, I’m sure) on this topic, I wonder if PCC is using some of his “E” time to address the problem before next year’s cohort start reading prospectuses (or whatever the adverts are called in Amerigo-land)?

    1. Campi if you’re speaking Latin. Campuses if you’re speaking English. But, of course, if you’re speaking Latin, you could be using the Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Accusative, Vocative or Ablative which all have different endings. English doesn’t give a crap.

      1. In that case … I’ll stick with the English. (I struggled to get my head around cases when trying to learn Russian. It gave me a headache.)

    1. “7) Yale President Jonathan Holloway shall cut down the largest tree in New Haven with: a herring!”

      Yeah as I read the demands it sounded a lot like an SNL parody of the demands.

  19. Students gotta have something evil to oppose. In Jerry’s day it was the Vietnam war, which was indeed genuinely evil, and incredibly stupid.

    The current crop have got nothin’ so they just have to make shit up.


    1. Actually, on reflection, #6 is not stupid. It just gets overshadowed by the spectacular idiocy of some of the other demands.


  20. Several statements made in comments here have lead to poor understandings of history, both in how it is done and how it’s studied.

    If I were a historian writing something about John Calhoun in 1940 or today it should look the same, unless there was new material discovered since the first writing. In neither case would there be any comments regarding his morality or poor character because, well, he was a slave holder and a believer in the practice. I should say you would not see this from a professional historian.

    Comparing the moral behavior of the Nazi’s during the Holocaust with the behavior of Calhoun is so far from reason it’s even difficult to think of it. That is why history always deals with and include the period of the event – when it took place. The morality of murdering 6 million people in 1940 is roughly the same then as it is now. People’s view of slavery in South Carolina in 1850 were a bit different than they are today.

    I’ll just finish by asking, when is that request coming in to remove Washington and Jefferson from those structures in DC or from all those schools across the country, named after them. That is of course judging them as a citizen and not a historian. You cannot have it both ways. The citizen’s views always change with time but the history is the same.

  21. I can’t help but wonder what their problem with the word ‘master’ is. Is it because it’s a gendered word? Or is it the association with slavery?

  22. “Name it and the two new residential colleges after people of color.” Hmm I guess that means they’re okay with any people of color… How about Idi Amin, Francois Duvalier, and Genghis Khan?

  23. I took a different impression from yours.

    To me this seems like a farce, all manufactured to make a cash grab at college funds, and secure bogus jobs for students who wouldn’t otherwise cut it in the job marketplace.

    I mean, most of the demands are basically to establish and increase the power of the faction these students belong to and are mentored by (no doubt some of their humanities professors have had a word or two of influence).

    The insurance parts and low income student demands I can agree with, and the same goes for financial aid (which is universally abysmal for anyone who’s recently gone to college). Too bad it’s all eclipsed by unscrupulous pretext for financial gains.

  24. Just a day or two ago, Jerry posted a humorous Starbucks cup, but was essentially forced by convention to use the ubiquitous NSFW designation.

    If you want to consider where this all started, wemay need to look no further. The concept that adults would need to be shielded from even silly humor (I am not talking about actual harassment) that grade school children laugh at is the beginning of his long slide into infantalization. When I was first in the working world, there was no concept of NSFW. We were adults. No law or threat of lawsuit would applly to adult conversationa (the boss my set standards, but no one could sue oand get the government involved)

    It would be only a matter of time before the definitions of ‘offense’ became more loose, and only a matter of time till the argument starts to be: “if we can’t say those things on the job, why should we be able to say them in college”. Slippery slope is NOT ALWAYS a fallacy.

    1. “The concept that adults would need to be shielded from even silly humor (I am not talking about actual harassment) that grade school children laugh at is the beginning of his long slide into infantalization . . . .’

      Hmm, I wonder if – when I call out “Corny Joke Alert! Corny Joke Alert!” to 4th graders – I am giving a “trigger warning.”

    2. On this point I agree.

      I recall, a couple of decades ago, my anger on finding that anything I browsed at work was filtered through some incompetently implemented gestapoware. Instead of the page I was expecting I got a threat “Your attempt to access this site has been recorded”. I wasn’t going to stand for being falsely accused of accessing porn and fired off a memo to the head of IT “M C Escher is NOT pornography. Webmarshal needs a swift kick in the goolies.” This was not well received.

      Since then I have become resigned to this sort of incompetent and egregious censorship. I did collect, just in case**, a small stack of rejection screens – “Your access to ‘Recycled concrete guidelines.pdf’ has been declined. Reason: Pornography.” – that’s a genuine example. Also at one point “” and “[The company’s own website].html” both labelled as ‘pornography’ when some ITdork screwed up the settings and forgot to link the whitelist. This crapware labelled anything not on its precious whitelist as ‘pornography’.

      **Just in case my attempts to access ‘pornography’ really were being recorded.

      Unfortunately company IT departments are little empires not subject to anyone’s oversight, least of all the users’.


    3. This reminds me of the Wall Street firms who have taken to banning swearing in the workplace to avoid hostile environments. So this response would be a fucking rule violation while a memo discussing how to find legal loopholes to make the next great new debt instrument to being the global economy down with it would be perfectly acceptable. Not hostile at all.

  25. Jerry, my recollection of campus anti-Vietnam war protests is that we absolutely DID make “demands” (using that very word).

    1. Yeah, same here. And also went “on strike,” shut down the school to hold antiwar symposia, firebombed the ROTC building (at night, it was uninhabited)…

      I will always hold that our cause was valid, however jejune some of the tactics. And the government was having its share of fuck-ups, too–Kent State probably being the most egregious…

  26. Yale was most definitely NOT “founded on stolen indigenous land.” New Haven, CT. was purchased by my many times great grandmother Mrs. Mable Harlakenden Haynes Eaton’s brother in law Theophilus Eaton and John Davenport – distinguished and honorable men who accepted an offer of the land from the sachem (chiefs) of the local Quinnipiacs. Please post and demand demand that “Next Yale” stop this outrageous libel.

    Here are the basics:

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