Monday, November 9, 2015

Yale students call for associate master's resignation after email controversy

And it's hardly a controversy at all, but even calmly stating the wrong opinion has consequences these days. From FIRE:
Students called for the resignation of Associate Master of Silliman College Erika Christakis after she responded to an email from the school’s Intercultural Affairs Council asking students to be thoughtful about the cultural implications of their Halloween costumes. According to The Washington Post, students are also calling for the resignation of her husband, Master of Silliman College, Nicholas Christakis, who defended her statement. [...] The email, titled “Halloween and the Yale Community,” implored students to be thoughtful about the cultural implications of their Halloween costumes and how they might offend or degrade others, pointing to costumes such as feathered headdresses, turbans, “war paint,” and blackface as examples of inappropriate “cultural appropriation and/or misrepresentation.” Howard sent a similar email to the Northwestern University community in 2010 when he was the dean of students there.
So what was Christakis's incendiary response? She asked:
Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious… a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive? American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition.
I think a lot of people would find this to be a reasonable reaction to the over-correction and censure of ideas or actions deemed insensitive. Unfortunately, there's been an increasing number of these cases where a professor or administrator dares to say something unsanctioned by current leftist ideology and their summarily punished for it. White it's great that students feel empowered, it seems as though there's a new controversy every week. Reasonable people would agree that it should be okay to ask if context is ever a consideration and not feel your job is on the line for it.