Silence U Part 2: What Has Yale Become? | We the Internet Documentary

In 2015, viral video of Yale’s “shrieking girl” screaming at professor Nicholas Christakis exploded across the internet. The cause was an email questioning Halloween costume guidelines his wife, professor Erika Christakis, had written. A year after the blowup, Erika and Nicholas had both left their positions. In this mini-documentary We the Internet TV filmmaker Rob Montz heads to that university to investigate what Yale has become. Subscribe to We the Internet for more free speech documentaries. Watch Silence U Part 1 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5uaVFfX3AQ .

The story began in October 2015, when Yale’s Intercultural Affairs Committee sent an email broadly outlining the kinds of Halloween costumes that were and weren’t appropriate (this letter can be seen in full at https://www.thefire.org/email-from-intercultural-affairs/ ). In response, Professor Erika Christakis – the wife of Nicholas Christakis, head of Yale’s Silliman college – penned a response, citing complaints from the students in the residential college that the list was arbitrary and restrictive. Pointing to other examples of adults long fostering overblown fears about Halloween, she suggested that open dialogue about costumes was a better way for students to learn than through restrictions imposed from administrators. Her letter can be seen in full here: https://www.thefire.org/email-from-erika-christakis-dressing-yourselves-email-to-silliman-college-yale-students-on-halloween-costumes/ .

Students responded in days of protests — culminating in the viral courtyard incident of Nicholas Christakis trying to engage students in conversation about the topic. Instead students insulted Christakis and yelled at him to apologize, resign, or cave to their demands. While other administrators were in the courtyard, nobody stood up for the ideals of academic freedom, free speech or open dialogue. A year later, Nick Christakis stepped down from being the head of Silliman and Erika had left Yale. The school created more administrative posts to placate students – yet nobody in the administration had vocally backed Yale’s supposed core values of academic freedom and open dialogue outlined in its own Woodward Report, a gold standard of academic principle (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodward_Report).

We the Internet TV’s Rob Montz went to Yale to talk to students and professors and figure out why this happened – and what it says about Yale. Is it still a university designed to seek knowledge and truth? Or primarily a full service destination for privileged students? A place where upper class students can add to their resumes in a cushy, unchallenging environment before taking elite jobs? Is the role of the bloated college administration to further academic objectives or their own careers and purview? Was the “screaming girl” at Yale wrong when she insisted that Nick Christakis’s job was not to teach but to make her home comfortable – or was she right?

This documentary focuses on Yale, but it has implications for colleges nationwide. With incidents from Brown to Middlebury to Berkeley, universities are grappling with issues of free speech and free expression amidst student demands for inclusive environments — as well as students and administrators who are afraid to say anything controversial or interesting for fear it will negatively affect their job prospects. With numerous concerned students too afraid to speak on record in the documentary, the silence is deafening.

Hear a discussion with Rob and current college students and activists on our comedy and debate podcast, Unsafe Space! http://www.unsafespaceshow.com/2017/03/26/campus-free-speech-and-silence-u-part-2-premiere-feat-rob-montz-jenny-yang-and-nathan-mosher/

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Credits

Host and Director: Rob Montz
Director of Photography: Ben Gaskell
Animator: Fabian Tejada

Contributors:

Bill Deresiewicz
Doug Stone
Grace Pan
Amy Wax

Executive Producers: Maurice Black, Lou Perez, Erin O’Connor, & Rob Pfaltzgraff
Creative Director: Erin O’Connor
Head Writer: Lou Perez
Marketing: Toby Muresianu

Special thanks to Greg Lukianoff of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

Music:

Ras Kass — Goldyn Child
Party Supplies — Grown up
Madlib — Meatgrinder
Party Supplies — 9-24-11

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Comment (558)

  1. This is so hard to watch. Wait until those snowflakes get a dose of the real world. They won't know what hit them.

  2. When the educated are the most ignorant, when the stupid are allowed to form an opinion, when telling the truth is called racist, we are all fucked as a humanity.

  3. I had a kid apply for a job with my company from Yale. I threw the application out. I hired someone who was from a community college who is not going to act like a dumbshit. Yale should do a better job protecting their professors.

  4. Interesting take. Very insightful. I agree with your ultimate assessment, but I have no problem with an Aladdin costume.

  5. They want his job taken away from him? Bet she hasn't worked a day in her life!
    He is supposed to take care of her? Doesn't she have a mommie?
    They claim the hate white men with privilege? But it is okay with them for Arab Muslims TODAY IN LIBYA to kidnap black Africans, rape black women and children, castrate black men, and sell black Africans as slaves IN PUBLIC. And don't tell me they didn't know! It has been on CNN, Fox News, documentaries, resources on google and YouTube. I presume these COLLEGE students at Yale have heard of the internet ?
    As long as Arab Muslim people of color want to enslave black Africans and sell them, Yale students say by their silence that the don't care.

  6. Whats the name of that intolerant overdramatic weeping black girl. Did she come forward? Privileged little coward. You should be honored to have the Christakeses there to learn from. Enjoy your time at Fale University.

  7. I thought the black guy who said “look at me” was cute until he started talking. I’m only in grade 11 and I hope my university isn’t like this. If it were, I’d probably be the first “white supremacist” that happens to be a black teenager

  8. Jordan Peterson has identified them as post-modernistradical left neo-marxists that have infiltrated educational institutions to the point of having a stranglehold on them.

  9. I would love to conscript the spoiled brats into the army as heavy units in the Middle East who literally detonate IEDs with their explosive tantrums

  10. These fragile snowflakes are total hypocrites who get butthurt over whites sporting Halloween costumes they feel are "offensive" and have low tolerance for criticism yet have no problem wearing the taboo costumes and being racist themselves.

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