In 2015, video of Yale’s “shrieking girl” screaming at professor Nicholas Christakis over a Halloween costume email went viral. A year later, Dr. Christakis and his wife Erika had both left their positions. In this mini-documentary We the Internet TV filmmaker Rob Montz heads to that university to investigate what Yale has become…
The story began in October 2015, when Yale’s Intercultural Affairs Committee sent an email broadly outlining the kinds of Halloween costumes that were and weren’t appropriate (this letter can be seen in full at here). In response, Professor Erika Christakis – the wife of Nicholas Christakis, head of Yale’s Silliman college – penned a response, citing complaints from the students in the residential college that the list was arbitrary and restrictive. Pointing to other examples of adults long fostering overblown fears about Halloween, she suggested that open dialogue about costumes was a better way for students to learn than through restrictions imposed from administrators. Her letter can be seen in full here.
Students responded in days of protests — culminating in the viral courtyard incident of Nicholas Christakis trying to engage students in conversation about the topic. Instead students insulted Christakis and yelled at him to apologize, resign, or cave to their demands. While other administrators were in the courtyard, nobody stood up for the ideals of academic freedom, free speech or open dialogue. A year later, Nick Christakis stepped down from being the head of Silliman and Erika had left Yale. The school created more administrative posts to placate students – yet nobody in the administration had vocally backed Yale’s supposed core values of academic freedom and open dialogue outlined in its own Woodward Report, a gold standard of academic principle….
Here is the video.
My daughter Eliana took up the story at some length for National Review in “‘This is not a debate’: Yale’s fight for free speech.” Both in the NR article and in the video Yale presents as a case study. Yale is illustrative of the crisis in higher education and the evolution of the left in the direction of a totalitarian ideology imposed through the devices of fascism.