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The Yale Halloween Controversy

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A few days before Halloween, the Dean of Yale University sent out an email to the student body cautioning students to not wear culturally disrespectful costumes, complete with a series of pictures of acceptable and unacceptable costumes, and the signatures of a eleven other high ranking Yale officials. Here is the full email (it's short and what you would expect): https://www.thefire.org/email-from-intercultural-affairs/


A few days later, Erica Christakis, the wife of another school admin sent a reply email which challenged the first email on the grounds of the generally harmful nature of "safe spaces," and more importantly, the danger of establishing de facto institutional speech codes in universities, as the previous email seemed to do. Her email is excellent, and I recommend reading it: https://www.thefire.org/email-from-erika-christakis-dressing-yourselves-email-to-silliman-college-yale-students-on-halloween-costumes/

Some key excerpts:

"I don’t wish to trivialize genuine concerns about cultural and personal representation, and other challenges to our lived experience in a plural community. I know that many decent people have proposed guidelines on Halloween costumes from a spirit of avoiding hurt and offense. I laud those goals, in theory, as most of us do. But in practice, I wonder if we should reflect more transparently, as a community, on the consequences of an institutional (which is to say: bureaucratic and administrative) exercise of implied control over college students".

"As a former preschool teacher, for example, it is hard for me to give credence to a claim that there is something objectionably “appropriative” about a blonde­haired child’s wanting to be Mulan for a day. Pretend play is the foundation of most cognitive tasks, and it seems to me that we want to be in the business of encouraging the exercise of imagination, not constraining it. I suppose we could agree that there is a difference between fantasizing about an individual character vs. appropriating a culture, wholesale, the latter of which could be seen as (tacky)(offensive)(jejeune)(hurtful), take your pick. But, then, I wonder what is the statute of limitations on dreaming of dressing as Tiana the Frog Princess if you aren’t a black girl from New Orleans? Is it okay if you are eight, but not 18? I don’t know the answer to these questions; they seem unanswerable. Or at the least, they put us on slippery terrain that I, for one, prefer not to cross."

"Even if we could agree on how to avoid offense – and I’ll note that no one around campus seems overly concerned about the offense taken by religiously conservative folks to skin­revealing costumes – I wonder, and I am not trying to be provocative: 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. And the censure and prohibition come from above, not from yourselves! Are we all okay with this transfer of power? Have we lost faith in young people's capacity – in your capacity ­ to exercise self­censure, through social norming, and also in your capacity to ignore or reject things that trouble you? We tend to view this shift from individual to institutional agency as a tradeoff between libertarian vs. liberal values (“liberal” in the American, not European sense of the word)." 


Within a few days of the second email, 740 students and faculty had signed a petition demanding the resignation of Christakis and a like-minded administrator for the email. Protests have sprung up across campus. To see what type of atmosphere has taken hold of Yale, check out this recording of a confrontation between a protester and an admin (the third of the four videos is the best, skipping to the end of this video automatically starts the next one):


General Source: https://www.thefire.org/yale-students-demand-resignations-from-faculty-members-over-halloween-email/


How widespread is this insanity? How far will it go from here? Will colleges be fundamentally different in the future because of stuff like this?


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Unfortunately, that illustrates the problem of trying to build a backlash against political correctness. It's the same problem the Tea Party had with trying to build a backlash against run away government: the religious/nationalist conservatives are just gonna hijack it...and they're just as bad as the SJW people.

For every story about a Liberal demanding someone's resignation or calling for a boycott over politically incorrect speech or action, there's a religious conservative calling for the same over someone insulting their religion. In fact they were the ones who originally came up with the tactic, and decided that social and political activism isn't about open debate, it's about unscrupulous threats. There are just as many voices being silenced by right wing "activism" as there are by the left.

Edited by Nicky
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At another college (Claremont), a student had to step down from her leadership role because she featured in this photo. And, she 's the one not even dressed in a costume, but holding a sign that says "Sorry". So, i suppose she's accessory to the crime of cultural appropriation.




Edited by softwareNerd
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Black groups are asking Princeton to disassociate itself from Woodrow Wilson. (Wilson was president of Princeton for a while and their school of government is named after him.) The school says they'll think about it. 

I think this is interesting because it highlights that the Democratic party was pretty anti-black in the day.

Wilson was a pretty bad president -- vying for the last spot with FDR and Teddy -- yet I wouldn't like these activists to get there way.

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