Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Yale Rewards Student Thugs, Bullies

Two of the students who drove Christakises from campus given race-relations prize

James Kirchick reports the jaw-dropping news in Tablet that Yale University has given an award for improving race relations on campus to Alexandra Zina Barlowe and Abdul-Razak Zachariah, two leaders of the 2015 mob that bullied Prof. Nicholas Christakis over his wife’s suggestion that Yale shouldn’t try to police Halloween costumes. Excerpts:

But Nicholas Christakis was doing more than just defending the honor of his wife that afternoon in the Silliman courtyard. As video of the several hours-long ordeal revealed, Christakis was defending the most fundamental principle of higher education: that the university should serve as a place of free inquiry where individuals can respectfully engage with one another in the pursuit of knowledge.

At least, that’s what places like Yale claim to stand for. Not anymore.

Of the 100 or so students who confronted Christakis that day, a young woman who called him “disgusting” and shouted “who the fuck hired you?” before storming off in tears became the most infamous, thanks to an 81-second YouTube clip that went viral. (The video also—thanks to its promotion by various right-wing websites—brought this student a torrent of anonymous harassment). The videos that Tablet exclusively posted last year, which showed a further 25 minutes of what was ultimately an hours-long confrontation, depicted a procession of students berating Christakis. In one clip, a male student strides up to Christakis and, standing mere inches from his face, orders the professor to “look at me.” Assuming this position of physical intimidation, the student then proceeds to declare that Christakis is incapable of understanding what he and his classmates are feeling because Christakis is white, and, ipso facto, cannot be a victim of racism. In another clip, a female student accuses Christakis of “strip[ping] people of their humanity” and “creat[ing] a space for violence to happen,” a line later mocked in an episode of The Simpsons. In the videos, Howard, the dean who wrote the costume provisions, can be seen lurking along the periphery of the mob.


The Orwellian veneration of racial agitators as racial conciliators is the logical conclusion of Yale’s craven capitulation to the hard left forces of identitarian groupthink. From the very beginning of this ordeal, the Yale administration refused to state some simple but necessary truths: that the missive Erika Christakis wrote was entirely appropriate; that the “demands” issued by protesting students (such as an “ethnic studies distributional requirement”) were ridiculous; and, most important of all, that the rude and insubordinate treatment to which Nicholas Christakis was subjected rose to the level of a disciplinary offense. (It was not so long ago that mobbing a professor, physically threatening him, and screaming in his face, for hours, would result in expulsion).

But Yale’s spineless leaders were never willing to say these things.

Read the whole thing. Nicholas Christakis stepped down as master of Silliman College in the wake of the controversy, and his wife Erika resigned her position at the university.

Here’s a 12-minute documentary on the event that reveals the kind of man Yale allowed bratty students to intimidate. What you reward, you’ll get more of:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xK4MBzp5YwM]

In November 2015, I wrote in this space:

If the Yale administration gives a single inch to these people, they will have disgraced themselves. Mark my words, though: these young left-wing, anti-liberal tyrants will move into elite positions in the American establishment, because Yale is a gateway to that kind of privilege. And when they do, they will exercise that power against anybody who doesn’t bow down to their radicalism.

Now Yale has honored two of the leaders of the mob for … leading the mob. This is what Yale University, one of this country’s most elite and influential institutions of higher education, values. Please take note of it.