On Tuesday, November 3rd, members of the Black Student Alliance at Yale gathered to discuss the recent events affecting Black students and students of color on this campus, in particular the email from Erika Christakis regarding cultural appropriation and the incidence of women of color being refused entry to the SAE party, in addition to the subsequent campus response. The following is a list of possible action steps that Black students want and need in order to move forward. This by no means is representative of the entire Black community at Yale, but came from a discussion between over 60 Black students as some potential ideas. While most these are requests of the administration, Black women would specifically like to request the support of Black men in implementing and encouraging the campus to respond to these requests and others, and in directly outreaching to us to see what support we need.
There are three main areas of action we would like to see:
- Administrative response around these particular and related events. In the past regarding events of hate speech and discrimination, there has been immediate response from the administration at the very least acknowledging that these events occurred and students may have been impacted. We expect this and more. Some possible action steps include:
- We would like SAE and the university to admit that these events occurred, and admit that there are harmful dynamics within their community that led to even a suggestion that something like this be said, and work to fix said dynamics
- An email from Dean Holloway and/or President Salovey acknowledging that these events have happened and that students may be feeling upset, at the very least, stating that they will investigate, and stating their explicit intention to support women and people of color on campus. In the future when similar events occur, we would like a much faster response, in under 24 hours.
- A specific administrative team to collect data and compile a report on similar instances in fraternities and other student groups at Yale
- The establishment of a formal space and procedure to voice concerns related to incidents and events of discrimination and hate speech at Yale. There is currently no formal reporting and censure process for this (like the UWC for sexual misconduct). Other universities have Bias Reporting and Response Teams – Yale should develop something similar.
- Administrative initiative for the interests of Black women, Black people, and people of color. While there are specific responses to particular incidences of racism and misogyny that we experience, there are broader issues at play that we would like Yale to address generally. Black women do not feel safe on Yale’s campus – at off-campus parties, in classrooms, and otherwise. The events of this past week stem from a simple lack of respect for Black women, women of color, and people of color in general. Possible action steps include:
- Mandatory diversity sensitivity trainings for all faculty, staff, and students. Faculty, staff, and students with expertise on these issues need to be involved in developing and implementing such trainings.
- Mental health programs for the Black community & other communities of color that are specifically funded and specific to our experiences
- The administration supports and encourages members of SAE and other fraternities/spaces where such offenses have occurred to read a series of Black feminist texts and report on what they have learned
- The administration supports and encourages members of SAE and other fraternities/spaces to host a fundraiser/do a service project related to services and support for Black women, at Yale and in New Haven.
- All students must be required to take a certain number of classes from the AFAM, ER&M, and WGSS departments (not credit/D). This might include more offerings of classes from these departments and commitments to retain faculty to these departments.
- Student input on administration and faculty hiring and training practices. Professors and administrators at Yale are part of our community and must be accountable to students.
- Students able to give input on the hiring of professors and other programs related to hiring professors of color and the allocation of money that were outlined in Dean Holloway’s 11/3 email
- Open and transparent process about how masters are trained and appointed
- We are also calling for the immediate removal of Nicholas and Erika Christakis as the Master and Associate Master of Silliman College. A petition to follow.