A head of one of Yale University's residential colleges, Pierson College, Stephen Davis is involved in a scandal regarding what was interpreted to be his alleged attempt at creating a more diverse portrayal of the college's history by erasing the existence of white alumni who are normally honored with portraits in the Dining Hall.
Davis sent an e-mail to students saying that he would be removing the portraits of white predecessors from the Hall in order to make space for a Halloween event. While the temporary removal of these portraits to make way for student art work during the Halloween even is normal, his inference that the portraits of white predecessors would not be replaced in the Dining Hall after the event is unprecedented.
This is where the scandal gets murky. Davis seemed to be backpedaling via multiple correspondence with university newspapers where he tries to re-explain in different words what he intended his e-mails to mean.
Davis said that his previous e-mails were taken out of context and misconstrued. He said that there was an issue with the portraits being moved to another room due to schedule maintenance, then said that the portraits would, in fact, be replaced to their original positions in the Dining Hall.
Some followers of this controversy have taken his words to mean that his intentions were to not actually replace the portraits because they don't match the current values of the student body.
In his own words at one point, Davis mentioned that he wanted to give students the chance to help mold and better define what they though the kinds of values, identities and accomplishments were most important to the community. This reference seemed to indicate he was looking for guidance on what to replace the predecessors' portraits with that would better reflect the current ideals of the students, fellows and alumni.
That's all fine and dandy, but there was a good deal of chatter from people such as Yale's Dean Marvin Chun who said that while he believes the college heads and their portraits should remain visible as part of the university's history, that there is also an obligation to the students and staff to better reflect the current-day diversity of the institution.
Yale University's Pierson College is not devoid of controversy. The college was recently hit with scandalous headlines when one if its deans, June Chu was forced to resign her post after she made comments on a website calling people white trash and low class.
Isn't it racist to target portraits of alumni because of their skin color?
Targeting people because of their skin color is racism, right?