Our commitment to campus safety, peaceful assembly, and civil discourse

April 21, 2024

Dear Members of the Yale Community,

I write regarding the protests on Hewitt Quadrangle (Beinecke Plaza) and other parts of campus. These protests have grown significantly over the weekend, and some members of the broader community have joined our students.

Faculty and staff have been providing the students resources for free expression, health, and well-being, and have made clear that the university supports free speech and civil discourse. At the same time, we are focused intently on campus safety and maintaining university operations and the full use of university facilities, which support the work we all do to advance teaching, learning, research, and scholarship.

Yale College and graduate school deans and other university leaders have spoken multiple times with students participating in the protests to make clear university policies and guidelines, including the importance of maintaining open passageways in the event of a fire or other emergencies, the role of the university’s postering and chalking policy in fostering the exchange of ideas, and the need to allow other members of the community to use campus spaces. Putting up structures, defying the directives of university officials, staying in campus spaces past allowed times, and other acts that violate university policies and guidelines create safety hazards and impede the work of our university. We are continuing to speak with students who are participating in protests, so they understand the disciplinary consequences of actions that violate Yale’s policies. Yale will pursue disciplinary actions according to its policies.

Many of the students participating in the protests, including those conducting counterprotests, have done so peacefully. However, I am aware of reports of egregious behavior, such as intimidation and harassment, pushing those in crowds, removal of the plaza flag, and other harmful acts. Yale does not tolerate actions, including remarks, that threaten, harass, or intimidate members of the university’s Jewish, Muslim, and other communities. The Yale Police Department is investigating each report, and we will take action when appropriate, including making referrals for student discipline. We are providing support to affected students.

We do not agree on everything, but we all have a responsibility to do our part in fostering a community in which we can have open, civil discussions about any topic, no matter how complex and how difficult. As members of a university committed to learning and the search for truth, we can do no less.

Each of us deserves to be heard and to have the chance to speak. To that end, I have listened to many members of our community in recent weeks, and I understand that some disagree with the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility’s (ACIR’s) decision to not recommend a policy of divestment from military weapons manufacturers. The ACIR—a committee of faculty, students, staff, and alumni—arrived at this conclusion after hearing from student presenters and engaging in careful deliberation. This is part of a formal process and relies on the university’s guide to ethical investing that has served Yale well for decades. Any member of the Yale community is invited to write to the ACIR or to attend future open meetings. There are available pathways to continue this discussion with openness and civility, and I urge those with suggestions to follow them.

At a time when so many in the world are suffering and when so many lives have been cut short cruelly by violence, we must stand firmly against hatred and recommit ourselves to engaging in civil discourse free from intimidation or coercion. As I have said to all of you, we must hold tight to our common values. Now more than ever, we must commit to working together with compassion and understanding.


Peter Salovey
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology