[4/12/17] In part two of his journey into the belly of the academic beast, Rob Montz guts open Yale University’s “administrative squid monster,” a monster he says is almost exclusively to blame for the recent rash of campus free speech controversies.
And this is precisely where Montz’ latest project, “Silence U Part 2: What has Yale Become?” kicks off, replaying those infamous clips of Professor Nicholas Christakis fruitlessly attempting to convince student interlocutors that a controversial email his wife had sent just a few days earlier was entitled to the same free speech protections that applied to the student protesters.
In the video, Erika Christakis had responded to a campus-wide email from the School’s Intercultural Affairs Committee urging students to avoid potentially offensive Halloween costumes, countering that free expression entails acceptance of a certain degree of offensiveness and asking, “Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little obnoxious…a little bit inappropriate or, yes, offensive?” thus sending the campus into weeks of unrest.
The saga culminated in an intense exchange between Mr. Christakis and several of his students on the quad of Silliman College, where a crowd of students verbally berated him, broke down in tears in front of him, and maliciously attacked him and his wife.
Things eventually grew so intense that Mrs. Christakis resigned from the prestigious university altogether, while Mr. Christakis stepped down from his post as head of Silliman College.
It is here where Montz picks up the story, returning to Yale to uncover what exactly went wrong.
“Yale is supposed to combat, not cultivate, such self-righteous intolerance. This is, after all, the place that produced the Woodward Report, the 1974 gold-standard defense of academic freedom that famously called universities places to ‘think the unthinkable’ and ‘challenge the unchallengeable,’” Montz begins his new documentary. “Yale has manifestly failed to meet that noble goal. Now, why is that? What has this place become?”