Listen to Yale Law School Administrators Tell a Student His Affiliation With the Federalist Society Is 'Triggering' for Classmates

Yale students on campus / Getty Images
October 13, 2021

The following audio comes from meetings between a student at Yale Law School and two administrators: associate dean Ellen Cosgrove and diversity director Yaseen Eldik. On Sept. 16, the student was told that his membership in the "oppressive" Federalist Society had "triggered" his peers. On Sept. 17, he was reminded that "there’s a bar you have to take."

The meetings came in response to an email the student had sent inviting classmates to a happy hour at his "trap house," which elicited allegations that he was planning a blackface party.

Time stamps for the Sept. 16 meeting:

-1:00: Eldik explains why the term "trap house" is "triggering" and "racialized."
-3:40: Eldik says that references to fried chicken have been used "to undermine arguments that structural or systemic racism have contributed to health disparities in the U.S."
-5:15: The student is told that "as a man of color, there probably isn’t as much of a scrutiny of you as there might be of a white person in the same position."
-5:32: Eldik says that the student's affiliation with the Federalist Society was "very triggering" for students who "already feel" that the conservative group is "oppressive to certain communities."
-7:15: Eldik says his office has received complaints that the student's email was a "form of discrimination" and "psychically harmful."
-10:00: Eldik starts to pressure the student to apologize.
-11:40: Cosgrove and Eldik propose addressing the apology to the leaders of the Black Law Students Association specifically.
-12:10: Cosgrove warns the student that "these things amplify over time," so apologizing quickly is important "for your sake."
-13:35: After the student suggests letting his peers reach out to him individually to discuss their feelings about the email, Eldik responds: "I don’t want to make our office look like an ineffective source of resolution."
-14:05: Eldik says his office has received "eight or nine student complaints about this" and tells the student that the best way to make this "go away" would be an apology.
-14:23: Eldik says an apology would give the student "character-driven rehabilitation."
-15:10: Eldik says he worries about the email affecting the student's reputation, "not just here but when you leave. You know the legal community is a small one."
-16:20: Eldik volunteers to help draft the email.
-18:10: Cosgrove warns that escalation is a possibility if the student doesn't apologize.
-20:00: Eldik characterizes the student's email as an invitation "to make a mockery of black people."

Time stamps for the Sept. 17 meeting:

-1:13: Eldik says, "This is all because we care about you," and tells the student, "I don't have to do my job like this."
-1:35: Eldik says, "You're a law student, and there's a bar [exam] you have to take, so we think it's really important to give you a 360 view."

Read the full piece here:

A Yale Law Student Sent a Lighthearted Email Inviting Classmates to His ‘Trap House.’ The School Is Now Calling Him To Account.

This piece was published Oct. 13 at 1:15 p.m.