President’s remarks on compassion and civility

Peter Salovey, President of Yale University
November 3, 2023

This week, President Salovey spoke in groups and individually with Muslim and Jewish students. Below is a compilation of his remarks.

Since October 7th, we have wept and felt profound grief. Many in our community have experienced overwhelming loss and are feeling grave uncertainty about the future. The killing of civilians is an affront to humanity. 

At Yale, we support those working toward peace. And we have renewed our resolve to focus on the safety and well-being of members of our community—and to promote civil, respectful discourse within it.

This is especially vital as we witness sharp divisions around us. We are seeing waves of hatred toward members of Jewish, Muslim, Israeli, Palestinian, and Arab communities at home, across the nation, and worldwide. In Illinois, a six-year-old Palestinian American boy was violently stabbed to death in his home. At another university, threats to “bring an assault rifle to campus” and kill members of the Jewish community were posted online. 

Antisemitic incidents have soared since the war began. There has been a surge in Islamophobic violence and harassment. These new expressions of some of humanity’s oldest forms of prejudice shake our shared conscience—and command us to call hatred by its name so that we can confront it. 

College campuses are not immune, and Yale is not immune. We have seen words and behavior from members of our community that have resulted in pain, upset, and fear among many of us.

So, let us be clear. Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and hatred toward Palestinians and Israelis are emphatically against our values and principles at Yale. Let me also be clear in stating that our forceful rejection of discrimination and prejudice must be matched by our will to act with compassion and civility.

We are a community of many viewpoints, identities, and cultures. We do not agree with one another on everything. What we must share is a commitment to open, civil discourse and respect for one another.

Each of us has a voice on this campus, and each of us plays a vital role in creating the community we want to live in. When messages have a divisive impact, I recognize that these words can cause some in our community to feel dehumanized. In response, let us find compassion for one another and remember we all share a common humanity.

I call on all of us to listen to one another, to treat one another with civility, and to choose our words with care and consideration.

It is through our choices and actions that we can demonstrate that the words and behavior of a few are certainly not representative of this community. And remember that you are not alone. Many on this campus are here to support you—including your deans, the Chaplain’s Office, the Office of International Students and Scholars, and many others. Please reach out if you need help, have questions, or want to share your ideas and experiences.

I have faith in you and faith in this community. Thank you.

University Resources