Yale professor calls it quits after Halloween debate

The Yale professor accused of failing to create a ‘safe space’ for students following an e-mail sent regarding Halloween costumes will step down from her post this coming spring semester.

You may have seen a video circulating in recent weeks of a Yale student berating a teacher in a university yard for failing to create a “safe space” in her dormitory, sparked by an incendiary e-mail from the professor’s wife to the student residents. According to a report from the Associated Press, the professor who sent the e-mail, Erika Christakis, will step down from her post and refrain from teaching in the coming spring semester.

Christakis’s e-mail to the student body focused on the appropriateness of Halloween costumes that some people could potentially find offensive. Christakis suggested that as young adults and students at one of the country’s most revered educational institutions, residents of the dormitory had the intellectual capacity and wherewithal to decide what costumes to wear during Halloween celebrations.

Her e-mail was written in response to a request from the Intercultural Affairs Committee that students be reminded not to wear racially insensitive costumes, like sombreros, Native American headdresses, or even blackface. Christakis held the stance that students should be allowed to wear whatever they wanted, though she hoped that they would make the decision to avoid immature costumes on their own accord.

The e-mail sparked a massive reaction from the student body, who claimed that the professors in charge of their residence hall had failed to create a safe space by not specifically discouraging costumes that could be considered offensive. Hundreds of students and faculty marched on November 9th this year in protest of perceived racial insensitivity.

According to Christakis, “I have great respect and affection for my students, but I worry that the current Yale climate is not, in my view, conducive to the civil dialogue and open inquiry required to solve our urgent societal problems.”

Yale is sad to see Christakis go, stating that her teaching is “highly valued” and that she is always welcome at the University.

A transcript of the e-mail sent by Christakis to her student residents can be found here.

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