Call for Institutional Neutrality at Yale

March 22, 2024

The Buckley Institute has released a new petition calling on the Yale Corporation to adopt a position of institutional neutrality for Yale, committing the university to not comment on any social or political issues that are not directly related to Yale’s core mission of education.

Already, ten universities have adopted policies of institutional neutrality, including fellow Ivy League university Columbia. An additional three university presidents of top colleges and universities have publicly supported the idea of avoiding comment on political issues.

Commenting on political and social issues necessarily distracts from the university’s mission of education, both in the process of deciding when and how to comment and dealing with the inevitable backlash from those who disagree. Additionally, Yale’s motto is light and truth. Taking institutional positions inhibits the pursuit of light and truth by putting a thumb on the scale in favor of one perspective over others in a way that limits full debate and discussion of new ideas.

There are numerous practical reasons for the university to avoid public stances on political issues as well. Commenting on political issues has opened a pandora’s box where universities are being called on to release a statement on every public concern, major or minor. When universities choose not to speak on an issue, that decision is often seen as a comment in and of itself. Additionally, when a university position is reinforced through punishment or sanctions against students or faculty who share alternative perspectives, it undermines the university’s credibility on free speech.

Taking institutional positions distracts from educating and inevitably puts the university at the center of no-win political debates best left to the public square. It tarnishes the university reputation and alienates students, faculty, and alumni alike. Institutional neutrality is the best solution, for university leaders and the broader Yale community.

Sign the petition today!