Responding to boisterous student protests, the head of Yale University vowed on Tuesday to build a more inclusive school, in part by expanding financial aid to low-income students and creating a center for the study of race, ethnicity and “social identity.”
Peter Salovey, the university’s president, outlined the moves in a letter to the Yale community that comes after a string of demonstrations that first began over a faculty member’s email over Halloween costumes.
It also follows the resignation earlier this week of the University of Missouri’s president amid student complaints that the school did not take allegations of racial abuse on campus seriously.
Small-scale protests and walkouts in sympathy with the Missouri students have also taken place at universities across the United States this week.
The protests build on the “Black Lives Matter” movement, which was involved in massive and sometimes violent demonstrations in cities including Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore over police killings of black men.
Salovey said in his letter that the university would double the budgets for four campus cultural centers, provide multicultural training for all staff in the mental health and counseling department at YaleHealth, and appoint a deputy dean for diversity.
He also proposed hiring four extra faculty members who would provide “cutting-edge scholarship on the histories, lives, and cultures of unrepresented and under-represented communities,” and to add teaching staff and courses starting in the spring of 2016 to address race, ethnicity and related topics.
Salovey did not mention a student demand to remove two faculty members whose emails about Halloween costumes outraged the Yale community.
“I have heard the expressions of those who do not feel fully included at Yale, many of whom have described experiences of isolation, and even of hostility, during their time here,” he said in the letter.
“It is clear that we need to make significant changes so that all members of our community truly feel welcome and can participate equally in the activities of the university.”
Salovey also promised to name two new residential colleges after women and minority group members.
(Reporting by Richard Weizel in Connecticut; Editing by Dan Whitcomb)