Yale Agrees To Restore Pictures Of White Pierson College Masters After Removal In the Interests of Diversity

PiersonshieldAfter removing the portraits of his white predecessors from the dining hall of Pierson College, Pierson College head Stephen Davis is now saying it was all a terrible misunderstanding.  Davis earlier proclaimed the removal of the portraits in the interest of the “campus-wide conversations about diversity and inclusion in public art and representation.”  All of the prior “Masters” were white. Now, after a backlash, Davis is saying that the portraits will be returned.

Yale recently followed Harvard and other schools in renaming the heads of the colleges from the long traditional “master” to “head” because of what critics said could be confused with slavery references.  The problem is that it had no such connection but the history and correct meaning meant little.  I was just at Yale and saw the new signs stuck on walls next to the historic references to college masters.

On November 1, Davis emailed students to say that the portraits (which were removed for the Halloween dance) would not be returned but rather relocated.  He declared that “In the context of campus-wide conversations about diversity and inclusion in public art and representation, . . . we’ve decided to leave the walls empty for the time being, in the hope that the blank walls will begin to prompt conversation on what it means to create common spaces where everyone has a sense of belonging and ownership.” Instead, the portraits would be relocated to the Fellows Lounge and he said that the administrators would be “working to develop plaques/labels for them … to mark their historical context and significance.”  He also said that students would be asked to create their own portraits to “bring your voices and artistic skills to the table as we continue our efforts to make Pierson College an ever more equitable and welcoming place.”

In a new post on the college’s Facebook page Davis now insists that he never sought a permanent removal and pledged to restore the portraits. 

Critics questioned why the portraits were deemed inimical to diversity simply because they were white college masters.  My objection is different.  I think it is commendable and important to work on different ways to make students of all backgrounds and races to feel welcomed and integrated into a university. However, I view this as another superficial action in the name of diversity.   Rather than achieve inclusion as part of the long and distinguished history of the university, the suggestion is that the race of prior heads should be the primary issue.  The portraits were removed “to create common spaces where everyone has a sense of belonging and ownership.”  However, this is the history the belongs to all of these students and that should be the message of inclusion.  Removing white faces from the dining hall walls reduces efforts of inclusion to mere jingoism and superficiality.
Previously, we discussed the controversy of the former Pierson College Dean June Chu has for writing Yelp reviews that were deemed classist and racist.

30 thoughts on “Yale Agrees To Restore Pictures Of White Pierson College Masters After Removal In the Interests of Diversity

  1. No educated person would confuse the head of a university with a slave master.

    We have master masons. Master artisans. A Journeyman becomes a master. Master craftsman. Masterpiece (the work of an art master). Dancing master. Fencing master. Riding master. We master a subject or concept. Master our emotions and behavior.

    I’m sorry. Should I have prefaced my post with a trigger warning?

    Censor the English language and lobotomize the sum of mankind’s learning, and the precision of our rhetoric. A “head” in no way is synonymous with “master” of an art, craft, or trade. There are nuances of meaning layered in our English language, a language that has drawn upon other languages and cultures for many years. Even pronunciation has dramatically changed over the past thousand years.

    Moving the portraits labeled them as some sort of threat to the student body. Rather, their portraits should be included as they always are for past masters of universities. Race is not the primary issue at a university. Education is.

    This constant filtering of every topic through the race filter would make Martin Luther King, Jr turn in his grave. Nowadays, if an African-American proclaims that he wants his children to be judged by the content of their character and not their race, they would be slammed with racist epithets by the Left. Inclusive and tolerant does not mean focus on the differences and view all white men past or present as a threat.

    Slavery still exists in Africa today, and many other countries. Statistically, the US is one of the least racist countries in the world.

  2. The ‘History Cleaners’ do themselves and their ‘just causes’ the most harm, more harm than those against whom they protest do to them. The vestiges of American history existed for their great actions as well as their despicable ones; just like today and always. Removing those who created this country part by part, honorable or dishonorable removes the lessons and driving force to progress socially. Humanity, in any country, religion, or race has had and will continue to have shortcomings as well as progressive moves. What is imperative for any society to progress is that the past as well as the present continues to be scrutinized and weighed. ‘History Plaques’ should be installed next to the portraits, paintings, statues, etc that represent the past, completing the truth of the past. Statues of General Lee should remain and have installed in an equal profile an explanation of the fact that Lee fought, killed, and caused the deaths of thousands with the goal of continuing slavery. This should be the same solution for America’s history. That Custer and his men were annihilated by those that were persecuted and slaughtered by Custer and his men should be the primary message. That the founding fathers lacked the foresight and spine to tackle slavery should be included side by side with their other achievements. The greatest address to those that have been persecuted is to educate, not eradicate, the lessons learned and being learned. America’s societal evolution is the issue, not pay back. Removing history and the complete truth from view allows the fabrication of history and the biased, racist, bigoted, beliefs all too prevalent in this country. It helps divide and create chaos, out of which comes the leadership that drags us backwards to the very places from which we wish to escape. Escape is not the vehicle. Education and understanding is the vehicle.

    • issac – your knowledge of history is pathetic. The whole story behind the Battle of the Little Bighorn is actually fairly complex and goes back to previous battles. You really ought to learn more about history, especially the history of Custer and the Civil War and his lead up to his death. You probably do not know that he is instrumental in turning the tide for the North in the war of Northern aggression.

        • issac – I come from where near Custer died. I grew up my whole life learning about Custer and why he did the things he did. Since then I have learned about the Civil War background which has been spectacular. I don’t know why you think I should go to the library because I think you absolutely have missed the mark. You never lived in the American West during the great Indian wars and were putting down the Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, etc. read Custer’s book some time.

          • Paul

            Regardless of where you grew up or what you did your whole life, you failed to learn how to read and avoid setting yourself off before fully understanding what you have read. Your statement that Custer had more than that one moment in history for which he is, for the most part, negatively remembered, is precisely the point of my post. The whole truth, including the famous and infamous must be understood when it comes to history and historical figures. The history of America and its pivotal players and moments include the good and the evil. Scrubbing history threatens to have the evil repeat itself. To fully revere one’s heroes, one must fully understand them. To fully understand them exposes their shortcomings as well as their positive qualities.

            Now, get on that rascal, get on over to the library, and do a little research on the icons of America. By the way, I wager that my knowledge and understanding of the history of America equals, if not surpasses, that of the average American, if not that of yourself.

            I certainly hope they don’t replace Hamilton on the sawbuck. That would be a prime example of scrubbing history.

            • issac -you realize that Custer is buried at West Point, don’t you? Tactically Custer’s plan was sound. The problem was that major Reno got pinned down on an island and couldn’t continue to support him. Have you ever been to the battlefield? I have been several times. I know far more about the battle than you do. I know far more about Custer than you do. When you catch up let me know.

    • I liked where you were going with that until you got to Lee. He was clear he had to fight for his land, Virginia, first. You can be intellectually lazy and go with the “guilt by association” premise. I refuse to be so narrow in my personal thinking. Frederick the Great let his feelings be known on the slavery issue, the early republic should have incorporated his input. But, as we know, that wasn’t a simple answer either.

      Maybe you should consider what you’ll be guilty of in the future when the paradigm of history changes once again.

      • slohrss

        Again with the selective perspectives. Lee was honorable in some ways but fought for the wrong cause. Fighting for one’s land does not give one the right to enslave people. It’s a question of brackets. Within the larger bracketed space are the lesser bracketed spaces. Some of those bracketed spaces represent honor, bravery, compassion, etc. However, along with those comes the historical fact that if it were not for the South’s desire to retain slavery, there would have been no Civil War. All the rest represents the lesser bracketed spaces, some good and some evil. Attila the Hun and Hitler had their good points. The larger bracket does not support revering them for their ‘good’ points. Regardless of what one believes, thinks, or worships, the only way to have a history is to have one in its entirety, the good with the evil, the honorable with the dishonorable, the inspirational with the deplorable. Leave the statues of Lee, but attach the truth.

        • Do you really believe that the north had clean hands on the 3/5 compromise? Do you really think the north wanted all blacks to count potentially changing the power in congress? If you do, there”s a bridge in the north that I think is for sale.

        • I understand your response. The continuation of my point is, who makes the call on this critical bracket? I would argue it is not cut and dried. We live in the west. It might be said of us in the future that we lived a sinful existence based on our collective exploitment of many parts of the world. Where does that leave us? I try to maintain and honorable existence, but am I not part of the problem? Similarly, what was the quick and just end to slavery at the time? There is an argument that maintaining the dollar as the reserve currency around the world is financing the never-ending wars to prop it up? I can’t speak to that, but what if it’s true— where does it leave us? History will be written by whomever comes along next, and it probably won’t be told as we are arguing it now. I advocate understanding over villification. I don’t claim to have that moral superiority.

  3. Removing the pictures in the first place was a knee-jerk reaction and now replacing them is like-wise a knee-jerk reaction. What’s wrong with calm deliberation and thoughtful presentation of decision making? That same principle applies to pictures on a wall and statutes in a park.

  4. It was a mistake to remove them. There seems to be a lack of good judgement in our places of higher learning. It is regrettable. I wish more energy was focused on more important issues like health care, workers’ rights and supporting and growing the middle class.

  5. So, the portraits are going to be returned. Big deal. Yes, they will be returned, but, returned in what condition? In their current, abhorrent and racist form, where the pale, chubby, cracker faces cry out for more paint? Will these pale and intrinsically guilty white faces be remedied by the addition of brown paint across their respective mugs? Never say never.

  6. Well, the Democrats need to do something to make themselves feel like good people, and also to signal their goodness, intelligence, and moral superiority to others. Because they don’t actually do good things and/or accomplish good things.

    Many people used to dress up and go to church every Sunday for those same reasons, but Christianity is sooo passe today. Plus Christians have lingering doubts about killing babies (abortion) and homosexuality. Sooo, here comes the Diversity Religion and the Global Warming Religion and the Anti-White People Religion to fill the gap.

    In the Olden Days, Christians who wanted to help Poor Negroes became missionaries and went to Africa, or joined the Salvation Army and worked with the poor herein this country. But that requires actual work. Our modern little missionary wannabees don’t want to do that, so they just posture and strut and make up silly stuff. Sad. Pathetic. Harmful.

    Do these frigging idiots really think that teaching black people to blame white people for all their troubles is going to end well??? Geeesh, isn’t that what the Nazis did with the Jews???

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

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