Yale University President Peter Salovey has responded to demands from students to improve the Ivy League institution’s racial climate by introducing new initiatives geared at making a “more inclusive Yale.”
According to The New York Times, Salovey addressed the concerns of students and outlined his plan in a recent letter.
“I have heard the expressions of those who do not feel fully included at Yale, many of whom have described experiences of isolation, and even of hostility, during their time here,” Salovey wrote. “It is clear that we need to make significant changes so that all members of our community truly feel welcome and can participate equally in the activities of the university, and to reaffirm and reinforce our commitment to a campus where hatred and discrimination have no place.”
His plan includes improving institutional structures and practices, and Salovey said he will join with other Yale leadership in receiving training on recognizing racism and combatting the problem. Starting next year, Yale will host an academic center focused on race and social issues. Salovey said the university will also improve financial aid policies for low-income students and will have more representations of diversity on campus.
Salovey also said that the university will hold open meetings for the community to discuss the name of Calhoun College, named after John C. Calhoun, a White supremacist who was in favor of slavery.
These new measures follow student protests and claims that university does not accommodate the needs of the students of color, particularly minority women, according to The Washington Post.
The New York Times reported that one Black student accused a fraternity of having a “White girls only party.” The fraternity has since denied those claims. Also, around Halloween, the Intercultural Affairs Council sent out an e-mail to students warning them to be mindful of their costume selection and to make sure they were not racially offensive. Erika Christakis, a faculty member and an administrator, sent out a response which many students thought was racially insensitive.
“Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious?” she wrote. “A little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?”
She added, “American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition.”
Hundreds of students signed an open letter criticizing Christakis for her statements, and many later confronted her husband Nicholas Christakis, a Yale faculty member, asking for an apology from him and his wife, which they did not receive, according to the Times.
The AFRO previously reported that Yale has already pledged $50 million aimed at making the faculty more diverse. Yale University’s initiative comes after the University of Missouri made headlines when university president Tim Wolfe resigned amid accusations that he ignored racial issues on campus.