President Salovey Fails to Commit to Action to Defend Free Speech at Yale

July 24, 2023

A month ago, the Buckley Institute sent a petition to President Salovey and the Yale Corporation calling for action to defend free speech at Yale. The petition included the signatures of more than 1,300 Yale-connected individuals. 

As National Review reported:

“[T]he petition called on Yale to implement and strengthen free-expression policies by, for instance, making students’ speech rights known to them at freshman orientation, affirming the Woodward Report as binding, endorsing the Chicago principles, collecting data on the speech climate, earning a ‘green light’ rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, and adding a safe-harbor clause to [the] speech policy…”

Recently, President Salovey responded to our petition but failed to mention any action he would take to strengthen free speech at Yale. In his short, three paragraph letter, President Salovey cited the Woodward Report but did not reaffirm it as the official policy of Yale University, an assurance only necessary because of Yale’s statements to the contrary in a court of law.

Additionally, President Salovey cites as proof of Yale’s support for diverse perspectives that “[i]ndependent Yale groups have invited prominent speakers with widely different political views.” The only conservative speakers mentioned — Senator Ted Cruz and 70th Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — were invited by the Buckley Institute, not President Salovey or other senior university administrators. While the Buckley Institute is proud to serve as a much-needed source of intellectual diversity on Yale’s campus, it’s concerning that intellectual diversity is in such short supply in the first place.  

The way to honor the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Woodward Report is by taking real steps to live up to its principles. Yale needs more than words if it is to truly be a home for free speech and open debate. Only if those crucial norms are established and upheld can Yale continue to be the source of Lux et Veritas — light and truth — it strives to be. 

See the full letter here.