What was Christakis’s crime? His wife, an early childhood educator, had responded to a campus-wide email about offensive Halloween costumes by opining that it was inappropriate for the college to tell students how to dress. According to The Washington Post:
“Whose business is it to control the forms of costumes of young people? It’s not mine, I know that,” wrote Erika Christakis, an early childhood educator and the wife of Nicholas Christakis, the Silliman College master. Both later took to social media to defend the e-mail, incensing students by tying it to debates about free speech and trigger warnings. At a Wednesday night forum hosted by the Afro-American Cultural Center, Erika Christakis sought to leave the meeting during a discussion of her e-mail, further provoking student anger. …
I have had to watch my friends defend their right to this institution. This email and the subsequent reaction to it have interrupted their lives. I have friends who are not going to class, who are not doing their homework, who are losing sleep, who are skipping meals, and who are having breakdowns. I feel drained. And through it all, Christakis has shown that he does not consider us a priority.
Oh yes, they can’t do their homework. If only that excuse worked when I was in college. But I digress.
As it happened, Greg Lukianoff, the big guy at FIRE, just happened to be at Yale as this was happening, and he turned on his video camera! Here’s my favorite of the four videos taken:
Not to diminish anyone’s feelz, but if an email about how no one should dictate what Halloween costume students wear gives rise to such outrage and trauma, then there has been a terrible mistake made at the Yale admissions office:
“Then step down! If that is what you think about being a [inaudible] master, then you should step down. It is not about creating an intellectual space! It is not! Do you understand that? It’s about creating a home here! You are not doing that. You’re going against that.”
If it’s not about “creating an intellectual space (“It is not!”),” but about that beloved safe space where no infant is exposed to any idea with which they disagree, then they belong in Busy Bee Nursery School, not Yale.
And that any grown up would tolerate the inane shrieking like this says something even more disturbing about Yale. Be the grown up. Tell the children that this is not acceptable behavior because an idea expressed in an email did not conform to their feelz. This was intolerable, and yet you not only tolerated it, but enabled it.
College is a place for children to grow into young adults. Do your job.