Update: Backlash Against Media Coverage Of The Yale Law School 'Trap House' Email (Oct. 25, 2021)
Following up on my previous posts (links below): The Atlantic, A Worrisome Peek Inside Yale Law’s Diversity Bureaucracy:
Have you ever wondered what deans of diversity do behind closed doors? Until last week, the public had little visibility into their methods. Then covertly recorded audio emerged of Yaseen Eldik, Yale Law School’s director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and Ellen Cosgrove, an associate dean, pressuring a student to issue a written apology for emailing out a party invitation that offended some of his classmates.
The Yale Law student in question, Trent Colbert, belongs to two student groups, the Native American Law Students Association, or NALSA, and the conservative Federalist Society. He emailed members of the former group that “we will be christening our very own (soon to be) world-renowned NALSA Trap House … by throwing a Constitution Day Bash in collaboration with FedSoc,” adding that refreshments would include “Popeye’s chicken, basic-bitch-American-themed snacks (like apple pie, etc.),” and various beverages. That is what offended some of Colbert’s peers, including the president of the Black Law Students Association, who reportedly likened Colbert’s references to “Trap House” and Popeyes to blackface.
A dispute over a party invitation—even an arguably offensive one—may sound more like a matter for a high-school vice principal than one for Ivy League deans. Nevertheless, the diversity administrators spent many hours on this low-stakes drama among high-IQ adults, affording outsiders an unusual peek at their methods and a related series of crucial mistakes, most stemming from an inability or unwillingness to see how the interests of students diverge from the interests and incentives of their office. Irrespective of whether the invitation was racially offensive, the behavior of Yale Law’s diversity bureaucrats was unethical, discreditable, and clearly incompatible with key values that the elite law school purports to uphold.
Similar diversity offices are now operating at institutions around the country, but their inner workings remain mysterious to many faculty members and students. The Yale Law controversy raises the underexamined question of what it actually means for diversity offices to ethically fulfill their mission, and whether choices made behind closed doors would retain support if exposed to sunlight. ...
October 23, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink