Damage Control: Yale Law School Scrubs Administrator Profiles from Website 

Removal comes in the wake of widespread outrage about administration's response to party invite

Yale Law School / Getty Images
October 25, 2021

Yale Law School's Office of Student Affairs has removed all administrator profiles from its website "to protect staff members" in the wake of widespread outrage about the school's treatment of Trent Colbert, the second-year law student who invited classmates to his "trap house," according to a university spokeswoman.

Two of those administrators, Yale Law diversity director Yaseen Eldik and Associate Dean Ellen Cosgrove, suggested that Colbert could have trouble with the bar if he didn't apologize for his invitation. That wasn't an empty threat: According to a now-deleted version of the student affairs website, Cosgrove's remit involves the bar exam's "character and fitness" investigations, which review aspiring lawyers' disciplinary records in considerable detail.

Eldik's profile is no longer viewable on any Yale Law website, though he remains listed as a "discrimination and harassment resource coordinator" with the university. An entry for Cosgrove—which contains no mention of her "character and fitness" duties—is still viewable on the law school's main website. Archived web pages indicate that the profiles were scrubbed between Oct. 13 and Oct. 18.

Debra Kroszner, a spokeswoman for the university, said the "profile page for the Office of Student Affairs was temporarily taken down to protect staff members who have been receiving threatening emails and phone calls." But contact information for both Eldik and Cosgrove remains publicly available on the university's website for "discrimination and harassment concerns."

Both administrators came under fire after the Washington Free Beacon published audio of their conversations with Colbert. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) likened Eldik and Cosgrove's veiled threats to a mafia shakedown. "That's a nice legal career you've got ahead of you," FIRE's Aaron Terr limned the exchange. "Would be a real shame if something happened to it."

The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf wrote that "the behavior of Yale Law's diversity bureaucrats was unethical, discreditable, and clearly incompatible with key values that the elite law school purports to uphold." And the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus said Cosgrove and Eldik's language was "reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution," a comparison that Yale Law School's Asian-American affinity group called "offensively racist."

Professors at Yale Law School were likewise aghast at the administrators' conduct. Roberta Romano, a professor of corporate law, threatened to "correct the record" if the law school did not admit to having punished protected speech. Another professor slammed the school's initial statement in the wake of the controversy, saying it was "appallingly disingenuous and full of falsehoods."

Some have even called for the administrators to be fired. "If, after a full and fair hearing, administrators are found guilty of violating free speech or other academic freedom rights of students or faculty, they should be dismissed," said Princeton University's Robert George. "Until this begins to happen, you can expect more of this."