-- Two weeks of protests culminated in a "March of Resilience" at Yale University Monday afternoon, when hundreds of students, faculty and administrators marched from the Ivy League school's Afro-American Cultural Center carrying signs with messages like "Black Students Matter," "We out here. We've been here. We ain't leaving. We are loved" and "Your Move, Yale."
'White Girls Only' Party Allegedly Held by Yale Frat
Githere wrote, "I'd just like to take a moment to give a shoutout to the member of Yale's SAE chapter who turned away a group of girls from their party last night, explaining that admittance was on a 'White Girls Only" basis, and a belated shoutout to the SAE member who turned me and my friends away for the same reason last year." It was unclear whether Githere witnessed the recent alleged incident this past Halloween.
Petros-Gouin said she had been visiting Yale on Halloween when she witnessed what she described as the "explicitly racist and absolutely abhorrent behavior" of the a brother at the fraternity, who turned away girls of color from the party saying, "No, we’re only looking for white girls," she told the Washington Post,.
Yale's SAE chapter president Grant Mueller denied the allegations to the college's student-run newspaper Yale Daily News. The executive director of communications for Sigma Alpha Epsilon's national headquarters told ABC News today that the fraternity "is conducting an ongoing investigation" into allegations of "racial intolerance" but that based on "preliminary findings, investigators are not able to verify the allegation."
The fraternity added that "the chapter and its members are committed to eliminating intolerance" and that "the incident is part of a larger conversation that needs to take place proactively to address issues that affect students."
2 Yale Faculty Members Question If Wearing So-Called 'Offensive,' Culturally Insensitive Costumes Violates 'Free Speech'
After Yale's Intercultural Affairs Council sent an email asking students to be thoughtful about the cultural implications of their costumes -- citing blackface and turbans as examples of insensitive costumes that could disrespect, alienate or ridicule marginalized groups of people -- Yale childhood development lecturer Erika Christakis replied with her own email that questioned whether the council’s statement restricted students' constitutional right to free expression.
Christakis wrote in the email that her husband, who is a master at the Silliman College at Yale, said that "if you don’t like a costume someone is wearing, look away, or tell them you are offended. Talk to each other. Free speech and the ability to tolerate offence are the hallmarks of a free and open society."
She added, "Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious ... a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive? American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition."
In response to Christakis, over 740 people signed an open letter telling Christakis that her "offensive" email invalidated marginalized students of color on campus. Senior Yale student Ryan Wilson wrote the letter with input from other students, the college's student-run newspaper Yale Daily News reported.
"Your email equates old traditions of using harmful stereotypes and tropes to further degrade marginalized people," Wilson wrote. "In your email, you ask students to 'look away' if costumes are offensive, as if the degradation of our cultures and people, and the violence that grows out of it is something that we can ignore ... To ask marginalized students to throw away their enjoyment of a holiday, in order to expend emotional, mental, and physical energy to explain why something is offensive, is — offensive."
After tensions that resulted in a verbal confrontation between Nicholas Christakis and a group of Yale protestors last week, Nicholas and his wife wrote a joint email Friday, saying in part, "We understand that [the email] was hurtful to you, and we are truly sorry." But the couple did emphasize in the email that they believed Erika Christakis' original email was well-intended and that they hoped the "tremendous expression at Yale this week" supported their argument for free speech, including speech that may be seen as offensive.
University Response Amid Racial Tensions
The school's president, Peter Salovey, added to the ongoing dialogue Friday and at the march Monday, saying that he was deeply troubled by the atmosphere on campus and that he wanted to better "inclusion, healing, mutual respect and understanding" at Yale, The Hartford Courant reported. He added that students have made suggestions, some of which would be implemented before Thanksgiving break.
The "March of Resilience" on Monday hoped to "shift the tone of the dialogue," amid these recent racial tensions on campus, Yale junior Alejandra Padin-Dujon told Yale Daily News.
"Last week there was a lot of pain, and it was emotionally draining and traumatic for many people of color on campus, even though it was a necessary move," Padin-Dujon said. "Right now, moving forward, we are looking to heal ourselves so that we can strengthen ourselves, regroup and push for specific demands and positive change for the future."
The march and recent protests have coincided with controversies over race relations at other colleges, including the University of Missouri, where the president Timothy Wolfe recently announced his resignation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.