By: Jacob Roth
Yale Law School administrators accused a Native American student of making a “mockery of black people” and “triggering” other students after he sent an invitation to a Constitution Day celebration co-hosted with the Federalist Society, according to a recording obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
On September 15th, the unnamed student sent out the below email invitation inviting other students to a Constitution Day social event co-hosted by the Native American Law Students’ Association and the Federalist Society. The email was screenshotted and posted online, where other Yale Law students, including the president of the Black Law Students’ Associations, accused the student of racism for using the phrase “trap house,” mentioning Popeye’s chicken would be served, and for the participation of the Federalist Society, which they accused of “anti-black rhetoric.”
The following morning, September 16th, the student was called to meet with Associate Dean Ellen Cosgrove and Diversity Director Yaseen Eldik. Eldik and Cosgrove informed the student that the Office of Student Affairs had received at least nine complaints from fellow students, describing the email invitation as discriminatory, harassment, “psychically damaging and psychically harmful,” and “anti-Black and perpetuating anti-Blackness.”
Eldik and Cosgrove presented the accusations in the complaints as emotional facts, walking the student through how his use of the word “trap” was part of a long tradition of white fraternities using black face to mock black Americans. Eldik stated that serving fried chicken at the event was perceived as a racialized reference “often used by the white majority to sort of characterize the cuisine and so the culture of black communities,” which has “been used to undermine arguments that structural or systemic racism have contributed to health disparities in the US.”
Eldik also explained how “the email’s association with FedSoc was very triggering for students that already feel like FedSoc belongs to political affiliations that are oppressive to certain communities” and “that, of course, obviously includes the LGBTQIA community and black communities and immigrant communities.”
Eldik and Cosgrove insisted that the best way to make the situation “go away” would be a public apology for “triggering” other students. Eldik warned the student to think about his reputation and future in the legal community if he did not write a public apology directed to black student leaders and seek “character-driven rehabilitation.” Eldik told the student that writing an apology would “nurture your social and intellectual development here as a student.”
Eldik stated repeatedly that the student must accept he did something wrong and not defend himself, telling him the only way to understand the meeting should be as an “attempt to understand why it is that someone would write an email that look like it’s inviting others to make a mockery of black people.”
Despite Eldik’s statements about the Federalist Society’s “oppressive” policies, Eldik told the student: “This isn’t about you being affiliated with conservative student groups. This isn’t a part of some assassination against conservative student groups on college campuses.”
Eldik repeatedly offered to write the student’s apology letter for him and provided examples of what the student’s apology should include, such as “I want you to know that I deeply regret the email that I wrote” and “I would like to expressly apologize and would like to learn and grow” and “you should know that I’m taking the time to be educated on the issues, and I hope to do better.” Eldik ended the meeting by telling the student that he would draft the student’s apology email for him, despite the student stating that he did not want to draft an apology at that moment.
After initial reporting on this story, Yale Law School released a statement saying that there was no disciplinary investigation or action taken in this matter.
While the student’s email used crude language that was inappropriate for a public email to professional peers, the relevant response would have been a friendly talking-to from peers about professionalism, not a racial grievance inquisition. The hyperventilating reaction from students and administrators shows the deep rot of cancel culture at universities like Yale: the immediate reaction of elite law students to an email invitation was to screenshot it, post it online, and hold a digital witch-burning; the response of Yale administrators to all of nine student complaints over an email was to immediately put the offending student through a pseudo-therapeutic interrogation and attempt to force a public apology out him for “his own good” in a pathetic soft-reboot of a struggle session from the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
That this happened at Yale also demonstrates how cancel culture is not just bad for its immediate victims, but for the rest of society as well. Whether anyone wants to care about how Yale debases itself, they must. Four of nine current Supreme Court Justices are Yale Law alumni. Yale Law, and institutions like it, are gate keepers to power and influence. If this shrieking infant-authoritarianism is what Yale not only graduates with a membership pass to the elite, but empowers to decide who else gets to join, then we all pay the price when this new, Yale-approved elite is pulling the levers of power.
Read the full transcript of the recording here.
1 “Trap House” is a slang term that originally meant a property used for drug transactions but it was popularized in mainstream slang as an ironic way to refer to a place where young people can host parties.
2 The Federalist Society is a non-partisan legal society that advocates for individual rights and limited, constitutional government with over 65,000 members. Six of the nine current Supreme Court justices are members. It was founded at Yale Law School.
Jacob Roth is a staff attorney with Young America’s Foundation.