Category Archive 'Laurie Santos'

19 Sep 2019

Snowflakes Melting Again at Yale

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Laurie Santos, new “Head” of Silliman College, famed for teaching an extremely popular course on Happiness.

The Yale Daily News reports that a Yale junior’s Instagram quip has the campus again in a turmoil over Free Speech, with many students demanding punishment, Silliman Head Laurie Santos promising action and then crawfishing, Peter Salovey timidly defending Free Speech, and faculty arguing.

All this ICE but no detention centers in sight,” read the caption, beneath an Instagram photo of a Yale junior smiling amid a backdrop of snowy mountains.

Was the gaffe a distasteful joke or an affront to undocumented immigrants? Yale administrators and faculty disagreed. Screenshots of the post — a play on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and ice itself — quickly went viral on social media. Students denounced the junior for joking about the plight of undocumented immigrants, who sometimes spend weeks and months in border detention facilities. Tweets criticizing the post received thousands of likes and more than 900 retweets. One student said he is “glad to see that Yale is still prepping for the future generations of Kavanaughs.” Others urged their peers to email the head of the junior’s residential college, psychology professor Laurie Santos and demanded consequences for the junior. …

As emails requesting the student to be held accountable for his Instagram post inundated Santos’ inbox, the Silliman Head of College responded to at least one student’s call for action against the junior.

“I have now heard about this incident from many, many students,” Santos wrote in the email, which was obtained by the News. “I’m upset that a member of my community would post something like this and I will take action on it. I will be bringing this up with the proper channels.”

While some students said they appreciated Santos’ note, many members of the University community voiced concerns about the email’s implications on whether administrators and faculty members have the jurisdiction to regulate students’ speech.

English professor David Bromwich said the idea that the junior “should somehow be punished, or cited to justify a reprimand, seems a clear overreach of authority.”

“[Of] course the result [of Santos’ email] would be to chill speech generally,” Bromwich said. “People say silly things like this all the time, on campus and in everyday life elsewhere. Will you install microphones in the potted plants and try to catch them all?”

In an interview with the News, Chairman of the Institute for Free Speech Bradley Smith said Santos’ email is “absurd and anti-liberal.” The email sends a message that students now have to be extra careful to not upset others and “gives a license to social justice warriors to pick on students they don’t like,” Smith said. He added that free speech is not only about a lack of censorship, but also about an open attitude of accepting controversial ideas.

In an email to the News on Wednesday, Santos said in hindsight, she “would have worded things differently to make it clearer that what I wanted to do was gather more information — that was the action I had in mind.” …

Salovey did not comment on whether he had spoken with Santos about her handling of the matter.

“I would like to take this opportunity to underscore that Yale is committed firmly to free expression,” Salovey said. “To learn, to create knowledge, to teach and to improve the world, we must engage in the exchange of ideas freely, especially when we disagree with one another. I have always encouraged members of the Yale community to participate in open discussions because the answer to speech that offends us is, most often, our own speech.” …

Thomas Kadri GRD ’23 — who is a fellow at the Yale Information Society Project — added that while people should have the right to speak freely, free speech does not mean that people cannot criticize others if they dislike what is said.

“That said, it might also be worrying if many students ‘fear’ the ‘consequences’ of expressing their ideas and opinions,” Kadri added. “Quite how worrying it is would depend on a few things, I think. Are their fears reasonable? What do they actually fear will happen — criticism, social ostracism, bad grades on assignments, worse job prospects?”

American Studies professor Matt Jacobson said that while the University may have some work to do, feeling uncomfortable is “emphatically not a ‘free speech’ issue of the constitutional sort.” Self-censorship is different from government censorship, and is in some cases “an organic response to the contending interests and the internalized dissonance brought about by social change and societal polarization,” Jacobson said.

He added that even if the climate issues on campus are very real and need to be addressed, it is important to recognize that there is a concerted effort on the right to use free speech as an instrument to advance a particular agenda, such as framing discrimination of ethnic, religious and racial minorities as freedom of expression.

RTWT

27 Jan 2018

From Yale, the Painfully Embarrassing and Appalling News Keeps on a-Coming

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laurie-santos
Current Head of Silliman College: Laurie Santos, Harvard ’97 A.B psychology & biology, ’03 Ph.D. psychology.

The new all-time record enrollment Yale course is a 1200-student T-group taught by Yale’s own equivalent of Oprah, the new “Head” of Silliman College, appointed right after all the Snowflakes-of-Color chased Nicholas Christakis and his wife Erika off-campus and right out of town for the hideous thought-crime of defending free Halloween costume expression (!).

NYT:

On Jan. 12, a few days after registration opened at Yale for Psyc 157, “Psychology and the Good Life,” roughly 300 people had signed up. Within three days, the figure had more than doubled. After three more days, about 1,200 students, or nearly one-fourth of Yale undergraduates, were enrolled.

The course, taught by Prof. Laurie Santos, 42, a psychology professor and the head of one of Yale’s residential colleges, tries to teach students how to lead a happier, more satisfying life in twice-weekly lectures.

“Students want to change, to be happier themselves, and to change the culture here on campus,” Dr. Santos said in an interview.

“With one in four students at Yale taking it, if we see good habits, things like students showing more gratitude, procrastinating less, increasing social connections, we’re actually seeding change in the school’s culture.”

Dr. Santos speculated that Yale students are interested in the class because, in high school, they had to deprioritize their happiness to gain admission to the school, adopting harmful life habits that have led to what she called “the mental health crises we’re seeing at places like Yale.” A 2013 report by the Yale College Council found that more than half of undergraduates sought mental health care from the university during their time at the school. …

Students have long requested that Yale offer a course on positive psychology, according to Prof. Woo-Kyoung Ahn, director of undergraduate studies in psychology, who said she was “blown away” by Dr. Santos’s proposal for the class.

Administrators like Dr. Ahn expected significant enrollment for the class, but none anticipated it to be quite so large. “Psychology and the Good Life,” with 1,182 undergraduates currently enrolled, stands as the most popular course in Yale’s 316-year history. The previous record-holder — “Psychology and the Law”— was offered in 1992 and had about 1,050 students, according to Prof. Marvin Chun, the Yale College dean. Most large lectures at Yale don’t exceed 600.

Offering such a large class has come with challenges, from assembling lecture halls to hiring the 24 teaching fellows required. Because the psychology department lacked the resources to staff it fully, the fellows had to be drawn from places like Yale’s School of Public Health and law school. And with so many undergraduates enrolled in a single lecture, Yale’s hundreds of other classes — particularly those that conflict with Dr. Santos’s — may have seen decreased enrollment.

At the start of the semester the class was divided between a live lecture in 844-seat Battell Chapel, a historic place of worship on campus, converted to a lecture hall, and one or two smaller auditoriums where several hundred more students watched a live stream of Dr. Santos. After several weeks, the decision was made to move the lectures to Woolsey Hall, usually the site of events like symphony performances, which can accommodate the entire class.

RTWT and weep.

In the old days, the huge draw classes were things like Vince Scully’s History of Architecture and the draw factor was simply the sheer brilliance and encyclopedic knowledge of the lecturer. Rather than lining up in droves for tea and sympathy and advice on finding happiness, the Yalies of my day would have laughed Laurie Santos right off the stage.


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