Campus Free Speech

Don't Use the Term 'Trap House' in Your Party Invite at Yale Law School

Administrators attempted to force an apology out of a second-year law student whose Federalist Society affiliations and use of the term "trap house" were "triggering" to his peers.


At Yale Law School, a second-year student who is part Cherokee has come under fire from administrators and some black students for sending a message via an online forum inviting others to a party hosted by the Federalist Society and the Native American Law Students Association (NALSA). As Washington Free Beacon's Aaron Sibarium first reported, the issue stemmed from students objecting to the use of the word "trap house" when promoting the party, with critics from the Black Law Students Association alleging the party supports "black face" and that the conservative Federalist Society "has historically supported anti-Black rhetoric." Administrators received nine complaints about the party invite, and promptly summoned the student in question to their office.

Once there, Ellen Cosgrove, an associate dean, and Yaseen Eldik, diversity director, hectored the student (who Free Beacon did not name), telling him that the use of the word "trap" and the mention of fried chicken was "triggering" to other students, in addition to the "email's association with FedSoc." Eldik told the student that "FedSoc belongs to political affiliations that are oppressive to certain communities," mentioning the "LGBTQIA community and black communities and immigrant communities" specifically. Both administrators insinuated that if the student did not apologize, this incident could negatively affect his chances of passing the bar exam, which allows administrators to weigh in on matters of character, with Eldik even going so far as to draft an apology for the student to send. (The student ultimately declined to do so, instead writing in an online forum that he welcomed questions from those who had complained or taken offense.)

"As a man of color, there probably isn't as much scrutiny of you as there might be of a white person in the same position," Eldik told the student, per the Free Beacon's reporting. "I just want to acknowledge that there's a complexity to that too." This tacit acknowledgment from Eldik that the student's racial background would be taken into account when determining how offensive the act was, and what type of punishment it deserves, is preposterous; people who are themselves members of minority groups are not immune from holding bigoted beliefs (though we do not have strong evidence to indicate that is the case here).

Contra Free Beacon's explanation, though, the term "trap house" did not rise to prominence due to its titular use by the popular podcast Chapo Trap House. Trap houses have long been a fixture of rap lyrics (the term long predates even Gucci Mane's use of the term for his 2005 album), normally used to describe seedy run-down houses where drugs like crack are sold and used. The word worked its way into mainstream use over time, with 2 Chainz's pink trap house in Atlanta even becoming Instagram fodder. It now just means something roughly akin to "place with a fun party." While use of the term does imply that a party will not be a particularly elegant or sophisticated affair, it does not at all imply that people should show up in blackface. (Ethics of doing so aside, you'd have to be quite naive to show up to a party in blackface as a 24-year-old aspiring lawyer, in an era of iPhone cameras, in the year 2021, making it even more risible that this was the party host's intention.)

Even if you hate the idea of a Federalist Society member using slang that originated with a different ethnic group and has deep roots in rap and hip hop music, it should be far more concerning for those who care about academic freedom that administrators attempted to force an apology over the phrase from a grown adult, while also implying that they could sink the student's chances at passing the bar if he refused. Debra Kroszner, the managing director at Yale's Office of Public Affairs, tells Reason that "while any person may report concerns about a lawyers' character and fitness to the Bar, the Law School has a longstanding policy of reporting only formal disciplinary action to the Bar Association. Any media reporting to the contrary is false," clarifying that the student did not receive formal disciplinary action but that the administration merely "tries to help students talk to one another and resolve their disagreements." But if the Free Beacon's reporting is true, Yale's administrators did not just make evenhanded attempts at helping students resolve a dispute. While it's good that the student was not formally sanctioned for his speech, his alleged treatment by university administrators is nonetheless troubling. You don't need to formally punish edgy speech in order to make students feel as if they can't speak freely.

It's also highly disturbing that tomorrow's lawyers and academics believe a person's affiliation with the Federalist Society—a conservative professional group that has launched the legal careers of many a Supreme Court justice—precludes them from a presumption of innocence. The students who will soon be entrusted with defending criminal defense in our courts of law surely recognize the value of an intellectual culture that doesn't attempt to rain down punishment for the supposed sin of being a conservative who sends out edgy party invitations.

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  1. Or use the term trap house and when Yale complains tell them to fuck off and die

    1. What ever happened to “sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me!” A most common phraseology when I was young. Used as a defense mechanism against other kids calling you names.

      1. The rocks thrown at his head were deflected by his tiny straw John Adams Federalist sombrero.

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      2. The studen’t wasn’t threatened with sticks or stones, but he was threatened with Yale admin smears of his character to the Bar and to other members of “the… small legal community”, as well as a demand that he send apologies that would in the event he sent them constitute admissions that he was a bad person in admitted need of reeducation.

        It’d punishment of the dean and diversity drone that ought to be demanded.

      3. Ya seen el Dik? Word is it’s really tiny.

    2. I like your response, better than my own thought of “tough shit and fuck you.” Of course, it is easy for me, as a 78 year old law professor to say that; that was one gutsy law student to just decline, even politely, their “offers” to him.

    3. I’m suspecting the complaints were mostly motivated by the Federalist Society part, then casting around for other supposed violations to pile on.

    1. That was my assumption as to which corner of the woke tapestry was complaining when I read the headline.

      I mean, they’re all complaining all the time, but I mean specifically which one they were using as a prop to justify their harassment.

  2. “… a second-year student who is part Cherokee…”

    Liz, please explain why this matters?

    Using race to defend against charges of racism pretty much is racism.

    Not to say that those school officials were anything but racist, censorious, authoritarian leftists abusing their positions of trust and authority to oppress and intimidate people they politically oppose.

    1. Did you not read the whole article?

      It matters because they told him:
      ” “As a man of color, there probably isn’t as much scrutiny of you as there might be of a white person in the same position,” Eldik told the student, ”

      It’s brought up because the article makes the point.

        1. Maybe this will help “[n]ot to say that those school officials were anything but racist, censorious, authoritarian leftists…”

          Arguing anything in their terms is a mistake. Rhetorically and morally.

          1. Arguing anything in their terms is a mistake.

            The cruel irony of having to explain this to lawyers.

        2. Uh no. The point is relevant to things that the administration was saying. A key point of the article was that the administration led with “We know you are colored, so we give you the benefit of the doubt, but…” It is a vital fact that puts that statement in context.

          Please try not to get so triggered.

          1. “It is a vital fact that puts that statement in context.”


            It puts it in their context. Which is an expressly racist context.

            You do know the saying about pigs and mud, right?

        3. It provides pertinent background, as was pointed out, and you seem to resist. To leave out information pertinent to the story is following the same path lefty authoritarians take in the one’s determining when and how a person’s ethnicity is to be mentioned.

          1. Background on lefties could include that communist atomic spy Klaus Fuchs preached that communism was the closest thing to the teachings of Jesus. Hitler’s national socialists were described in the prohibitionist, conservative Ladies’ Home Journal in 1933 as left wing. From a libertarian perspective, communists AND fascist Trumpista shills are BOTH left-wing if the adjective is a cowardly and evasive way of looters tarbrushing each other. Voters beware!

            1. you should know that your incoherent ramblings on here will bring no votes to the L-party, and will likely diminish any interest in freedom that you hoped to foster.

    2. The same thing occurrred to me (and others — see below) but actually it’s only the placement of this information that is questionable, and in that it merely echoes the Free Beacon, where the criticism is more apt. It’s relevant information because the “trap house” party was sponsored by the Native American Law Students Association (NALSA), and because it was said that his status as a Person of Color made “complex” the assessment that he was racist.

      But, yes, it’s absolutely a cringe to offer his Cherokee ethnicity as a defense against the charge that he’s racist, and that information should have been placed where it was immediately relevant. I would have chosen to place it where it was an explanation of the supposed “complexity”.

      That said, this writer seems less obliviously cucked than the Free Beacon one, and I’ll give her a pass.

  3. All diversity officers and other related positions should immediately be fired at every institution. They serve no positive purpose and produce negative value

    1. More to the point, these two should absolutely face real consequences.

      Yale Law School is in CT. Was the recording legal?

  4. Student did one thing right.

    He didn’t apologize. There’s no way this was meant to intentionally hurt anyone, there’s no need for an apology, and that someone else wrote the apology and demanded he issue it make that all the more clear.

    1. His tactics were perfect. Put it all on the internet and agree to discuss it with anyone who had a specific complain.

      The hypothetical arguments with the outrage-by-proxy crowd are a TRAP.

      1. This is especially true because they can (and do) claim anything offends someone. This is the whole basis of the alliance between activist students and faculty / administrators. You have to make them feel stupid for claiming Popeye’s is racist.

        1. Actually, I wouldn’t be surpised to fuind that he was indeed trolling. His POV -IS- being oppressed at Yale, and I don’t blame him for some deniable resistance, if that’s all he can afford to do. “Trap house”, fried chicken and, arguably “basic-bitch-American”, all point to his trolling the outrage grifters. If the Black Law Students Association wants to complain, all the better. But for the dean and “diversity” admin to threaten him with out-of-policy consequences shows both that his complaint is earned and that they have no standards and need to be fired.

    2. They wrote a confession for him to sign?

      1. Probably would have billed him for the paper if he had signed it.

        1. And for the bullet to the back of his head, when that becomes de rigeur in a few semesters.

  5. >Even if you hate the idea of a Federalist Society member using slang that originated with a different ethnic group and has deep roots in rap and hip hop music,

    FedSoc can’t like rap music?

    Beastie Boys and Eminem aren’t legit rap because they are the wrong ethnic group?


    Isn’t this just another example of out of touch administrators trying to regulate the slang of students? Ellen Cosgrove is a white woman who has no business lecturing students on the appropriateness of rap slang in promoting parties.

    1. >>Beastie Boys

      Israelites too. definitely not permitted @Yale.

      1. Actually I understand that “Israelites” are considerably overrepresented at Yale, though with less justification than there was in the past. There was a time when there was a Jewish quota, but that was a long time ago.

        1. It’s been subsumed into a white male quota.

  6. The student in question should invite Eldik and Cosgrove to go fuck themselves sideways with a full-grown Saguaro.

    “Diversity coordinator”, my ass.


  7. I must be old.
    What’s a trap house?

    1. Don’t Worry, Ms Wolfe gives a good etymology of the word. (I didn’t know either.)

    2. I first heard of it in connection with Breonna Taylor’s drug dealing ex-boyfriend. The place where he took the drugs being delivered to her for sale was a “trap house”.

  8. “Debra Kroszner, the managing director at Yale’s Office of Public Affairs, tells Reason that ‘while any person may report concerns about a lawyers’ character and fitness to the Bar, the Law School has a longstanding policy of reporting only formal disciplinary action to the Bar Association. Any media reporting to the contrary is false…'”

    Believe that at your own risk.

    1. “There’s a bar you have to take” is the Yale Law equivalent of “nice business you got there.”

      1. I suppose they mean they wouldn’t file a formal report, the dean would just bring it up casually during a discussion with a friend of his who happens to be on the Bar Association.

        1. Ha ha, I’m just kidding, I would never say such a thing about such upstanding, potentially-litigious citizens!

          1. Seriously, they’re probably just interested in making the student *believe* the threat they wouldn’t actually carry the threat out.

            Also, the media reporting does the job of alerting all relevant parties without either a formal or informal report.

            So, in sum, I actually think the public affairs office made a literally-true statement.

            1. And I forgot one thing which I think provides the best explanation – Yale probably *could* take disciplinary action against someone it officially designates as a racist.

              *That* would probably be the way the incident gets on the student’s “permanent record” – a conviction of racism in a Yale University tribunal, which then becomes reportable misconduct to any relevant state agency.

              Now I think I can give the Public Affairs Office credit for total accuracy. And now I can easily reconcile the literal accuracy of their statement with the threat to the student.

              *Of course* they’re in a position to have a campus trial and officially put the “racism” mark on his permanent record. They’re not a state school, so the First Amendment doesn’t apply, but convictions in Yale’s campus courts are entitled to be taken seriously by any governmental body.

              I’ve squared the circle and seriously think I’ve come up with the clue to this mystery.

              1. Yup, I’m right, and when I’m right, I’m right.

                Yale (the entire university, not just the Law School) *denies in court* that the university’s famous academic-freedom charter, the Woodward Report, is legally binding:

                ‘In response to Lee’s lawsuit, Yale’s lawyers went out of their way to disavow the renowned “Woodward report,” which reshaped the university’s academic freedom policies back in 1975, calling it a “statement of principles, not a set of contractual promises,”’


                They’re not bound by the First Amendment, and they’re not even bound by their own academic-freedom Magna Carta!

                So of course they can prosecute an officially-designated “racist” student in their campus courts.

      2. Closer than you know. From the Free Beacon version:

        It is unclear whether that is what Cosgrove was referring to when she warned on Sept. 16 that things “may escalate” without an apology. “I worry about this leaning over your reputation as a person,” Eldik chimed in. “Not just here but when you leave. You know the legal community is a small one.”

    2. I mean, it is probably true.
      1) Given the direction of the discussion, how far off was formal disciplinary action?

      2) Sure, the Law School won’t say anything. But that doesn’t stop stop the dean from saying whatever he wants to the Bar in an unofficial capacity.

  9. I suspect that using the term “trap house” in a party invite at Yale Law School would be perfectly fine as long as the student sending the invite were a Commie terrorist who spent his summers firebombing small businesses.

  10. I suppose we need a violent event like 9/11, The Tonkin Gulf, or an assassination to bring the country together and unite us against some outside “them”. Until then it is triggering upon triggering. A useless endeavor at best.

    1. I suppose we need a violent event like 9/11, The Tonkin Gulf, or an assassination to bring the country together and unite us against some outside “them”.

      I don’t know why people persist in this fantasy. 9-11 was a Tuesday. By the next day across the country flyers were advertising “teach-ins” that Saturday with the primary goal of convincing people this was America’s fault. There was never a second the left supported America or made any effort to “unite”.

      1. I do seem to recall the American left’s principal concern, after Al-Qaeda was identified as the culprit, being to shield Islam from religious criticism and save Muslim Americans from the inevitable outbreak of retaliatory right-wing violence that never materialized.

    2. Sadly, our current “them” is not outside the country.

    3. We are literally in the middle of an event that had killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, and the response has torn us even further apart.

      If we came under attack, I wonder if they would suffer more casualties from us defending ourselves or their accidentally getting in the cross-fire of us attacking each other over it.

      I think what we need is a president who actually is what Biden pretended to be during the election: someone who spends all day in the basement, uttering empty platitudes, and generally not having any ideas bigger than what flavor he will choose next time he goes out for ice cream. Let’s have less presidents promising change, and more presidents promising to do his best to stay off the front page. America could do with a lot less whiplash between ambitious presidents “with a phone and a pen.”

  11. The constant outrage bullying the left has now settled into has created one of the most intellectually dishonest and embarrassing periods in the history of this country.

    1. I presume they have an end game, that is, reinforcing their power and reducing the power of their adversaries.

      1. You’re assuming they ca think that far in advance.

  12. “The students who will soon be entrusted with defending criminal defense in our courts of law surely recognize the value of an intellectual culture that doesn’t attempt to rain down punishment for the supposed sin of being a conservative who sends out edgy party invitations.”

    Surely you jest. Of course Yale is teaching the woke students that it is a sin to be conservative and all conservative speech be put down along with the speaker. These are the same that believe Objectivity and Rigor of analysis is racist.

  13. >>who is part Cherokee

    would matter if Iroquois?

    also can’t believe “IT’S A TRAP!” isn’t on the invite somewhere.

  14. Isn’t trap literally the genre of music?

    1. Yes, but it’s a subgenre of hip-hop (you know, a BIPOC mode of artistic expression) so we’re going to let it slide.

  15. What happens when these kids turn 12?

  16. I thought a Trap House was where ladyboys lived.

    1. The von Trapp house was quite elegant is the movie is anything to go by so nun of your jokes!

  17. Does no one remember the Lindsey Shepherd situation in Canada where they dragged her in front of a show trial / inquisition for showing a Jordan Peterson clip?

    These fascists are everywhere, and now people start noticing?

  18. There’s audio!

    I really wonder how I would have handled this if I was a 20 year old and knowing that the whole Administration was in a position to nuke my entire college career. I’d love to say how I would have instantly told them to go fuck themselves, but that’s easy to write anonymously.

    1. If he’s a second year law student he’d be 24 or 25.

  19. Everybody loves fried chicken. Maybe they can serve karaage next time, because the Japanese kids wouldn’t bitch about it.

    1. This was my thought. Popeye’s is the bomb. Oh wait, that’s probably a terrorist threat now…

      Just fuck these people. Fuck them all right in the godsdamned ear.

      And while we’re at it, Fuck Joe Bidet.

      1. So eat first then anal sex with an old guy.

    2. Fried chicken is delicious regardless of what you call it.

    3. Just serve fried chicken, but call it pizza on the invitation.

      Problem solved.

  20. It’s just Yale for God’s sake; no one cares.

    1. How many Presidents and Justices are we talking about here?

      1. Hey at least it’s not Princeton….didn’t they have a REALLY racist President once upon a time who went on to be President of something rather larger?

  21. Any media reporting to the contrary is false,”

    Note how she tries to hide that the assertion came from the school’s administrators by implying it came from the media. These people are slime.

    It’s also highly disturbing that tomorrow’s lawyers and academics believe a person’s affiliation with the Federalist Society—a conservative professional group that has launched the legal careers of many a Supreme Court justice—precludes them from a presumption of innocence.

    If so they’re learning exactly the lesson Yale Law intends.

  22. As a life long baker of pies, particularly apple pies, I think I might be offended by the basic bitch reference. But I’m not entirely sure what it means in this context. Also had no idea what a trap house is.
    Also – is fried chicken always racist? I know it is at times homophobic . . .

  23. “As a man of color, there probably isn’t as much scrutiny of you as there might be of a white person in the same position”

    Good think they’re excellent lawyers who know better than me, otherwise I’d have thought they were insinuating that they were pursuing illegal racially-discriminatory discipline policies.

    But since the law basically means what Yale graduates say it means, I withdraw my criticism. Of course treating a white person worse than “a man of color” in “the same position” is legal.

  24. From the summary of the audio:

    “-3:40: Eldik says that references to fried chicken have been used “to undermine arguments that structural or systemic racism have contributed to health disparities in the U.S.”

    So that means that references to healthy foods, like watermelon, *aren’t* racist?

    1. For good or ill, associating fried chicken with racist imagery has been a thing for a ling time. See: Josie Delap, Economist (2 July, 2021)

      Ditto for watermelon. William R Black in the Atlantic, 8 Dec, 2014.

      Note how both foods were used by freed people to engage in entrepreneurship, and how racist bastards turned reality on its head to taint the deliciousness with sloth and criminality.

      1. And I like both of those foods.

        Does that make me black?

        It seems odd when one considers who is propagating the racial stereotypes here.

      2. Conservatives taint _all_ pleasure or happiness with criminality and sloth. The only other thing they do is send men with guns to shoot teen-agers, doctors and pregnant girls. They then brag that they like and admire libertarianism. With friends like Nixon, Ceausescu, Trump, Linseed Graham Cracker, Jeremy Bomb-anarchist, Marjorie Green Teeth, Billy Sunday and Billy Graham, who needs enemies?

  25. Wait Yale law students have time for fancy parties?

    When I was postgrad in my field we barely had time for sleep.

    Let alone catching up on our studies.

    They did feed us though I remember that.

    Pampered law students. They always were.

  26. Great but how was the party?

    1. It better have been worth fighting for.

  27. The Black Law Students Association’s president said she objected to the event’s association with the Federalist Society.

    ‘I guess celebrating whiteness wasn’t enough,’ she wrote in a student forum. “Y’all had to upgrade to cosplay/black face.’

    Y’all? Talk about cleaving to stereotypes. Maybe the Deanette and El Dik need to have a talk with xer.

    1. Will bet she’s from north of the Mason-Dixon, and never left a city, but uses ‘y’all’ like most dimwit millennials. Which is to say, all too often.

  28. If they’re the Native American Law Students Association, then why go to Popeye’s, why not use authentic Native American cuisine?

  29. This is nothing more than ‘Pout-rage’ from Yale. The student is guilty of Wrongthink. More power to ‘hir’! 🙂

  30. Is just me? Trap house means a place where drugs are sold. So……the person that complained is the Racist. They are the one that infer it meant Black! Wow how racist of them to assume only Black’s run a Traphouse….Where do I register this microaggression????

  31. I think Liz misread the Beacon’s piece. She writes:

    “Contra Free Beacon’s explanation, though, the term “trap house” did not rise to prominence due to its titular use by the popular podcast Chapo Trap House.”

    The FB didn’t say that Chapo caused the term, they just said that the term has been used in an apparently non-racial way since at least 2016, when Chapo started using it.

    ” ‘Trap house’ has been a term used in progressive pop culture since at least 2016, when the socialist podcast ‘Chapo Trap House’ burst onto the scene.”

    1. Right before the G.W Bush asset-forfeiture Crash, cops confiscated homes for a roach in the ashtray under good-faith-based asset forfeiture. With the buyers in jail and premises wrecked by narcs “searching,” the homes were only fit to be advertised for cheap rent. Any blacks, latinos or hippies moving in could be busted for that same roach hidden in a different part of the property. Is there a better name than “trap house” for looter prohibitionist recycling-by-entrapment?

  32. Not sure why there’s all this discussion about the term “trap house”. The student had the right to use such a term — full stop. Whether it’s objectionable or not is entirely beside the point.

  33. Don’t like bullies.

    I particularly don’t like bullies in positions of power. Cosgrove and Eldik should be ashamed.

    1. You must be getting your meals from a trap house if you think these charlatans have anything resembling a conscience, because you’d have to be high as a kite to think so.

  34. These woke dipshits are doing their damnedest to reinforce racism in this country. Cannot grasp how these morons think they’re doing anything other than making people hate anyone of another ethnic background with their posturing and bullshit. And if I were that student, and those 2 bitches showed up on my doorstep OFF CAMPUS, I’d record them and inform them they have 10 seconds to exit my property or I would be calling the cops on them for trespassing.

  35. A quick search on the internet leaves me with the conclusion that the following argument exists.
    Cultural appropriation is akin to blackface.
    In this case the cultural appropriation would probably depend upon the use of “sup” and “trap house”. I don’t know where ‘basic bitch’ comes from.

  36. I really hope his next invitation starts out “All you retarded homo’s…” and offends even more people.

    1. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t be outraged at the incorrect use of the apostrophe.


      1. Me no English good.

  37. And employers continue to hire people who fit right in at places like Yale.

    1. The freshmen down at Yale get no tail, compelling them to study law to get into trap house mixers.

  38. Every Wednesday and Friday morning, I join the other geezers at the IWLA shotgun range and shoot a couple rounds of skeet or trap. The clay pigeons are thrown by machines located in trap houses. I object to the cultural appropriation and demand an apology from the drug culture and its adherents.

  39. Glad the student stood up to those useless sacks of shit. But if you go to Yale, or any Ivy League school, WAYSA?

    1. What does the West African Young Statisticians Association have to do with this? I mean, they’re black, but I don’t think fried chicken is really associated with actual Africans.

  40. But is the trap house gay?

  41. “The Student” has clearly planned ahead for christianofascist nomination to the Supreme Court. We’ve seen that actual photos of nominees in blackface and Klan hoods only prove they are the “pro-life” of the Party. And insistently hitting on girls like Anita Hill or Christine Ford farther down the corporate pecking order is, like being nicknamed “Long Dong,” a badge of authority. Herbert Hoover’s veep was nicknamed “The Injun.” Even then racial identity kept uppity laissez-faire liberals from daring to question shoot-first prohibitionism. Nobody wanted to to be linked with outlaws running illegal whiskey to government internment camps reservations! The kid is a shoo-in for Chief Justice… assuming another Republican girl-bullier ever gets elected.

  42. So the people who are supposed to be teaching students about the Constitution have never actually read it. Don’t hire lawyers with degrees from Yale. Their education is second rate at best.

  43. “It’s also highly disturbing that tomorrow’s lawyers and academics believe a person’s affiliation with the Federalist Society—a conservative professional group that has launched the legal careers of many a Supreme Court justice—precludes them from a presumption of innocence.”

    Liz, would you also find it highly disturbing to learn that your colleague at Reason has similar prejudices against conservative professionals in your own field?

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