Nicholas Christakis, current Associate Master of Silliman College, is Yale ’84 and has an M.D. from Harvard and a Ph.D. from Penn. He is a sociologist specializing in the study of social media. He and his wife Erica were co-Masters of Pforzheimer House, one of Harvard’s twelve residential houses 2009-2013.
Watch the female student tell Christakis to “Be quiet!” and then lecture him on how he should be doing his job as college master.
With race-baiters calling for his head, Christakis wrote the following email featuring a good bit of grovelling.
Dear Silliman students,
“Over the past week, we have spent many hours talking with students of color, and in particular to women students, and we realize now that the email I (Erika) sent, while well-intended and coming from a place of deep conviction, did not acknowledge how extraordinarily hard it is to be a person of color at Yale. We meant to express our confidence that you have far more personal agency than you may realize, and we see proof in our conviction in the tremendous expression at Yale this week. But we understand that it was hurtful to you, and we are truly sorry. We understand that many students feel voiceless in diverse ways and we want you to know that we hear you and we will support you.
“We hear the anguish of many of our students of color and it has deeply moved us. Seeing that we have contributed to this pain by articulating certain beliefs about the formulation of a fair society is a very bitter pill for those in our Yale community, like us, who see speech as a tool for social justice. Nevertheless, we recognize that many students have seen mockery and arrogance in this claim. Your feelings urgently demand respect, and we offer it most sincerely here.
“It is clear that the events of this past week have escalated, and we also write to reassure you of our commitment to each and every student at Silliman. Throughout the week, we have wanted to share our thoughts, but have been advised throughout to delay. But we feel that the events demand an immediate response and we have wanted badly to offer one. It is incredibly hard to create an omnibus response that will speak to everyone. But we find it too painful to imagine crafting separate messages to different constituencies when we believe, at our core, that in times of crisis we are one Yale. As Nicholas said to the group in the courtyard, we believe we are united by our common humanity and can use that commonality to understand each other.
“In the coming days, we will send you a longer meditation on the ideas, events, topics, and experiences we have shared in the last few days, including a more thorough examination of the contents and rationale for Erika’s email and our specific views on free speech, which many have asked to hear more about. We will also work to find spaces for all community members to channel their feelings into ideas that others (both allies and even enemies) might learn from.
“For now, however, we warmly invite all Silliman students who would like to talk about Erikaâ€™s email concerning free speech and Halloween costumes, and related campus events, for lunch on Sunday November 8 at 12:00. All Silliman students are welcome, regardless of their views on the topic. Please RSVP, if you can, to Nicholas and Sergio, so we can order sufficient food, but donâ€™t let the lack of an RSVP be a barrier to joining us if you decide at the last minute.
“We hear all of you. Thank you for the privilege of working and learning with you.
Warmly, and also sorrowfully,
Nicholas and Erika”