A Yale University lecturer, who triggered a controversy after telling students to be liberal with Halloween costumes, even if it is deemed offensive, resigned from her teaching role, the college said Monday. The university said, in a statement, that Erika Christakis, who taught child development and psychology, chose to discontinue teaching at the school in the spring semester.
In October, the university’s Intercultural Affairs Committee instructed students to avoid wearing racially insensitive costumes for Halloween such as Native American headdresses, turbans or blackface. In response, Christakis sent out an email suggesting students should be able to wear what they want, even if it is offensive.
“Christakis is a well-regarded instructor, and the university’s leadership is disappointed that she has chosen not to continue teaching in the spring semester. Her teaching is highly valued and she is welcome to resume teaching anytime at Yale, where freedom of expression and academic inquiry are the paramount principle and practice,” the university said, in the statement.
Following Christakis’ email, several students criticized her argument that “free speech and the ability to tolerate offence [sic]” outdid the concerns of black, Native American and Asian students. Within a week of the email controversy, a black undergraduate student alleged that she was not allowed at Yale fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon's “white girls only” party -- an incident that school officials said they would investigate. University officials, however, denied the allegations.
Faculty members at Yale, meanwhile, showed support to Christakis’ views.
"I have great respect and affection for my students, but I worry that the current climate at Yale is not, in my view, conducive to the civil dialogue and open inquiry required to solve our urgent societal problems," Christakis told the Washington Post Friday.
The school has also been dealing with criticism over a residential hall named after John Calhoun, a prominent slave-owning politician, and questions about how minorities are treated on campus.