March 22, 2017 - mh9868a
Commonplace 9: Halloween at Yale
In my Cross Cultural Communications class this week we read Conor Friedersdorf’s article for the Atlantic called “The New Intolerance of Student Activism.” The article explains how administrators at Yale sent out an email to students suggesting what costumes they should avoid that Halloween. The intention of the administration was to deter any potentially demeaning costumes. However, students felt that they were capable of making their own responsible costume decisions. Therefore, university professor Erika Christakis, who was also reside at the school, decided to write a letter to the administration defending her students’ abilities to choose appropriate costumes. Unfortunately, Christakis’s attempt to defend the students backfired, and she got caught up in major backlash and protest.
Students fought Christakis and her husband, who is also a professor who lives on campus, because they were upset that she spoke on behalf of marginalized students. The students basically attacked the one professor who was trying to defend their integrity as adult decision makers. The students claimed Christakis’s letter caused them stress in their home environments. Farther down in the article, Friedersdorf mentions that the protesting students believed that by writing the letter, instead of creating a home on campus, the Christakis were creating an academic environment. But is that not what college is? When you live on campus, is your home not in an academic setting? The idea of a home and an academic environment are not mutually exclusive. College campuses are usually both of those things.
When I first read this article, I was honestly appalled by the behavior of the protesting students. They got two professors fired because one of the professors defended her students. I was really surprised that this issue was taken so such an extreme. If a professor here at AU took a stand against the administration in an attempt to defend students, even if I did not totally agree with what he said, I would respect him for at least trying to defend his students. Instead of focusing on the freedom to make their own choices, or even the marginalized students themselves, students focused on tearing a couple down. Overall, this article was an interesting take on what college students today believe are important issues.