A call for civility

April 29, 2024

Dear Members of the Yale Community,

Peaceful protest and activism have a long history on college campuses, and I fully support every individual’s right to free expression at Yale. What occurred yesterday on Cross Campus was the opposite of free expression. Some protesters set up rows of tents on Cross Campus and restricted access to the encampment. Those protesters asked individuals who wished to pass through or enter their area, which is a shared campus space, to agree with their political viewpoints. This action is unacceptable and antithetical to the very purpose of a university.

As a university dedicated to learning and the search for truth, we hold the exchange of ideas and the diversity of viewpoints to be fundamental. To claim control of a shared physical space and to impose an intellectual and ideological litmus test are not in keeping with our bedrock principles and values. 

We have long-established restrictions on the time, place, and manner of protest to ensure that all members of our community have equitable access to the campus—while still allowing for free expression and dissent. The use of overnight encampments, flags, posters, banners, tents, and ropes to claim a campus space for one individual or group’s viewpoint is, however, detrimental to the free exchange of ideas.

I call upon everyone involved—protesters and counter-protesters—to return to expressing their views in ways that are compatible with the fundamental value of intellectual freedom, that comply with university policies, and that foster civil discourse on our campus. I hope that we can do this without further disruption and without violating policies or laws. Civil disobedience is a time-honored tradition in this nation, and with it comes consequences. I urge every member of the university community to be mindful of the effect of their choices and to be respectful of the need for civility in the way we conduct ourselves.

Most importantly, I call on our community to live up to Yale’s mission and to show the world how we can learn from each other and work together even across a divide. 


Peter Salovey
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology