Anti-Semitism, Free Speech Controversy Erupts at Yale

Jewish students at Yale University are considering holding an open forum to discuss the issue of anti-semitism, in the wake of conflicting statements last week by the university's top two officers on what kinds of speech are protected.

The issue was brought up when Yale President Benno C. Schmidt said that a mid-October defacement of a Jewish student's door with swastikas constituted unlawful harassment. Schmidt directly contradicted Yale College Dean Donald Kagan, who said the defacers were protected from harassment charges by their right to freedom of expression.

On October 30, Kagan said the incidents should not be investigated, and that "the moral force of the community should by its own know how dreadful such acts are."

Kagan retracted his remarks the next day, after Schmidt issued a written statement that said that "these acts of bigotry and cowardice breached the Yale community's basic principle in an intolerable way."

In his retraction, Kagan said he was aware of the "extent and gravity of the incident" and that he fully "agreed with Schmidt's statement condemning the incidents."


The Yale student victimized by the defacement said he found swastikas drawn on the door to his room on two consecutive days. On the second occasion, the word "Juden," a German word for "Jew" was also written on the door. The student spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"He was very upset and hurt," said Tal A. Brudnoy, a first-year student at Yale and a close friend of the student.

Brudnoy also said that in response to these and other recent anti-Semitic incidents, Yale's Jewish community is considering orga- nizing a forum to increase awareness about anti-Semitism on campus. The New Haven Anti-Defamation League and Yale Hillel would participate, Brudnoy said.

Yale Police Chief James Perotti said the department has no suspects in the case, but that the incidents are under investigation