Students at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. are anticipating a formal response from the school’s president, Richard Levin, in response to accusations by more than 70 students that Levin violated and misrepresented the school’s bylaws.
Levin was also accused of engaging in “physical restriction, intimidation, and coercion of students for their advocacy of unpopular views.” If he is found guilty of the allegations, he could face expulsion from the school, students filing the complaints said.
Specifically, the students cite an incident in which two undergraduate students were detained for distributing leaflets to parents during Parents’ Weekend at Yale. The leaflets supported disgruntled employees within the college community. The labor disputes between a local union and the president involve the renewal of a labor contact which expired in January 2002.
According to a statement released by Yale students yesterday, the president listed three separate documents that prohibited students from distributing leaflets. The students said that such references to flyering are nonexistent among university documents.
Yale senior Abbey Hudson is a member of the Undergraduate Organizing Committee, created by some of the students who have chosen to file four charges against the president.
“When I first came to Yale, I expected a mecca of open dialogue, but this hasn’t happened with free expression. If I put out an expression that is not popular, I may be detained,” she said.
The students who have filed complaints against the president had attempted to voice their concerns on various occasions, without receiving a satisfactory response from Yale’s administration, Yale freshman Tom Frampton said. Frampton was one of the two students detained by the police at Parents’ Weekend this year. He also designed the statement of charges filed by the students.
Hudson said that she believed that the miscommunication was deliberate. “They say they will talk to you, but when they have a set position, they won’t talk to you,” she said.
During a rally Thursday, students walked into the president’s office with the intention of presenting the statement to Levin, but were told that the president had stepped out.
Hudson said Levin walked into the building while the rally was still in progress, but when questioned about his position regarding the charges brought against him, the president’s alleged response was, “If you are going to treat me as a criminal, don’t I have the right to remain silent?”
Yale freshman Josh Eidelson said he expected a delayed response from the president.
“I didn’t expect that he would respond right away. My guess is that he is still formulating how he will respond,” Eidelson said.
Frampton said several other student groups as well as individuals have filed charges against the president over the weekend.
“The fact that the people are adding their names conveys the fact that students have found out about it and the increasing number of students filing charges is indicative of the support we are getting,” he said.
Yale junior Ben Healy, a member of the Board of Alderman, a division of the New Haven city council, said he anticipates that the administration will follow up to investigate the allegations and will hold a hearing to determine their validity.
“Further violations by any member of the community are not appropriate as the university should live up to the ideals that people hold of it,” Healy said.
Referring to the alleged statement made by Levin as the president was walking through the rally, Eidelson said that the president’s statement was very revealing.
“When students presented statements, he saw that as criminalizing him. I wish that he had showed the level of concern he showed with the university charges being brought against him as he did with the students who were arrested or detained,” Eidelson said, adding the president was misusing his authoritative power.
“He is using the power of arrest utilized against those who dissent, those who pursue unpopular view and those who are working for a change at this university,” he said.