Yale students protest forum on free speech

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

In addition to the events last week at Yale that Eugene discussed here, on Friday some Yale students protested a forum on free speech on university campuses sponsored by the William F. Buckley Jr. Program at Yale. From the Yale Daily News:

After a comment made by speaker Greg Lukianoff during a private William F. Buckley, Jr. Program conference on free speech was posted on the Facebook group "Overheard at Yale" Friday afternoon, over 100 students gathered around Linsly-Chittenden Hall to voice their anger.

"Looking at the reaction to [Silliman College Associate Master] Erika Christakis' email, you would have thought someone wiped out an entire Indian village," Lukianoff said, according to Gian-Paul Bergeron '17, who was present at the event and posted the quotation online just after 4 p.m. . . .

Before the comment was made, Edward Columbia '18 - a white male who did not register for the event - walked into the room and began putting up signs along the front of the room which read "Stand with your sisters of color. Now, here. Always, everywhere," according to Columbia and Bergeron. They both said a security guard asked Columbia to leave because he was not registered and because he was putting up posters, but he refused to do so. Shortly after, Lukianoff made the comment about the Indian village, and Columbia shouted at Lukianoff and asked him why he thought it was funny, according to Columbia.

While Columbia resisted, the guard dragged him outside of the room, where he was pinned down and handcuffed before being taken to a squad car, Columbia said. Both Bergeron and Columbia said the officer used an appropriate amount of force. Columbia was given a citation, which he called "a mere slap on the wrist," and said he will appear in court, though he declined to specify when this will happen. . . .

The protests continued well beyond the one disturbance. Again from the YDN report:

Around 5:45 p.m., as attendees began to leave the conference, students outside chanted the phrase "Genocide is not a joke" and held up written signs of the same words. . . . A large group of students eventually gathered outside of the building on High Street. According to Buckley fellows present during the conference, several attendees were spat on as they left. One Buckley fellow said he was spat on and called a racist. . . .

Mitchell Rose Bear Don't Walk '16, a Native American student and one of the leaders of the protest, said she has spoken to the fellow who said he was spat on. She emphasized that spitting is "disgraceful" and not the message the protestors were looking to convey, but she confirmed that it did happen.

Zach Young, president of the Buckley Program, offered additional commentary on the events.

Of note, Lukianoff, president of FIRE, had been the guest at a Silliman College Master's Tea hosted by embattled Silliman Master Nicholas Christakis, who also delivered opening remarks at the daylong conference. Lukianoff is also the co-author (with Jonathan Haidt) of an important article on the "coddling" of university students, and last week's events would seem to confirm much of Lukianoff and Haidt's thesis.

As a Yale alum, this is all a bit embarrassing. Here's a post about what political correctness at Yale was like when I was a student.