Yale Student ‘Art Project:’ Disrupt Classes, Accuse Professors of War Crimes

Yale campus
Christopher Capozziello/Getty

Students at Yale University are protesting professors who they accuse of being “war criminals” and “alt-right” enablers of the U.S. Constitution. The series of protests, which the students have given the title “Do You Trust Your Educator?” is supposedly part of one student’s capstone art project.

“Open your eyes, open your ears, you are being taught by those you should fear,” chanted the student protesters while standing outside of professor Emma Sky’s classroom, according to a report by the school’s independent student newspaper, Yale Daily News.

The report added that the protesters, led by art student Zulfiqar Mannan, allege that professor Sky is a “pawn” in “imperialism and technocracy.”

Professor Sky served as an adviser to the Commanding General of US Forces in Iraq from 2007-2010, as well as to the Commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in 2006, according to the school’s website.

The professor was also an advisor to the U.S. Security Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process in 2005, and the Governorate Coordinator of Kirkuk for the Coalition Provisional Authority, 2003-2004.

A campus police officer and the Dean of Student Affairs reportedly stopped the student protesters from entering the classroom.

“During the protest, members of the group chanted, sang, stomped and yelled through the classroom’s windows as they tried to get Sky’s attention,” reports the student newspaper.

“My classroom is a safe forum for students with different views and backgrounds to debate vigorously the politics of the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy,” wrote professor Sky to Yale Daily News in an email. “The world is complex and there is no single narrative. We all learn from each other and tolerance is a key value.”

The protests didn’t stop with professor Sky, however, as Mannan’s latest focus has been on Sterling Professor of law Akhil Amar, who the student accuses of legitimizing so-called “Alt-Right interpretations of the U.S. Constitution,” and playing a critical role in the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, according to another report by Yale Daily News.

“My field, constitutional law, implicates many controversial topics, and I try to teach students to think for themselves, using proper tools of constitutional analysis,” said Amar. “I welcome student questions and criticisms, and I invite any undergraduate, whether enrolled in my class or not, to visit me during office hours or to join my weekly Wednesday lunches with students.”

According to the student newspaper, Mannan is facing a disciplinary case from the Yale College Executive Committee, while the professors involved with the capstone project, professor James Silk and project advisor Paul Linden-Retek make an effort to clarify to faculty members that they have played no role in the students’ protests.

“The project and our supervision does not extend to [Mannan’s] design and carrying out of protest,” wrote Silk in an email to faculty members. “These are activities he has chosen to pursue with his friends and colleagues.”

The professor added that Mannan’s protest against Sky has raised ethical concerns, and that he and Linden-Retek have urged the student to consider the consequences of his actions.

The Dean of Student Affairs, Camille Lizarríbar, said that “Yale is committed to free expression and there are guidelines that establish the community’s expectations on how that is exercised,” adding that students “may be subject to disciplinary action if they participate in any effort to prevent or disrupt a class.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.