Trent Colbert

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Trent Colbert: The Trap House Party (Yale Law)

October 13

October 14

October 18

  • [ "Yale Law School sought 2L's apology for 'trap house' Constitution Day invitation, citing 'triggering associations',"] DEBRA CASSENS WEISS, ABA Journal.
  • First Generation Professionals, Yale, statement against Colbert. "We appreciate Yaseen’seffort to educate Trent and repair harm within the YLS community as well as Dean Gerken’semail this morning." What email is that?

...corporate legal scholar Roberta Romano, threatened to "correct the record" if the law school did not do so itself. The administration's actions toward Colbert, Romano wrote Krozner, are "in direct and total conflict with what you stated," noting that the school's diversity director had made "a sly threat" about the student's career.

"Please correct the record," she added. "I would not want to have to do it for you."

Another Yale Law professor, who asked to remain anonymous, said the initial statement was "appallingly disingenuous and full of falsehoods." Yale Law School "stated ‘no student is investigated or sanctioned for protected speech,'" the professor told the Free Beacon. "It's hard to square that statement with the Dean of Student Affairs summoning a student for questioning in response to allegations by other students, with the Diversity Director ominously warning the student that if he doesn't apologize his admission to the bar could be threatened, or with the Law School sending a message to the entire second-year class condemning the student's email as ‘racist.' If all that isn't an ‘investigation,' then it's even worse—a pronouncement of guilt without investigation."

Oct 18: *",The Yale Law School Email Controversy: An Interview With Trent Colbert" , Dzvid Lat, Oct 18.

TC: I’ve received many private messages of support—“I don’t get this,” “Sorry you have to be dealing with this,” “Stay strong.” I think there’s a silent majority that supports me. But nobody wants to be the next person targeted on GroupMe.

TF: Once the attacks on Trent were in the GroupMe, everyone felt they had to go along. There’s a very “emperor’s new clothes” vibe—when someone says something is offensive, everyone else has to play along. In some cases, there’s actually something to seize on. In this case, I can’t emphasize enough how out of the blue it all was.

TC:Nobody reached out to me before filing their complaints. My first meeting with the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) was less than 24 hours after my email went out.

I received one message two days after my original invitation was reposted into the class GroupMe. By that point, I had already been reported by at least nine students to the OSA, and I had already had two meetings with administrators from that office.

I didn’t understand this message as an invitation to dialogue. The student told me they didn't like my response attempting to clear the air in the class GroupMe,3 said that they would no longer be extending me the benefit of the doubt, and reiterated the demand for an apology...I will add that, later on, the student did reach out again, expressing interest in talking with me, and we had a nice 40-minute chat the next day...

Interview footnote: On September 17, Colbert went on GroupMe to explain that "there was never a Trap House theme" for the party, which was about Constitution Day. He included a copy of the party invitation that he sent to the FedSoc list, which was more formal than the NALSA invite and made no reference to any “trap house.” ...

Interview footnote: I have received secondhand reports, from Professor Monica Bell and from one current YLS student, that some students tried to reach out to Colbert, but I haven’t seen any confirmation of those efforts at contact. Colbert made available for my review many of the emails and GroupMe messages at issue here, and I didn’t see any in which a fellow student expressed an interest in a one-on-one conversation with Colbert.

October 19

To be clear, legal institutions have caused violence long before the Federalist Society, and even those who disavow the organization perpetuate white supremacy, racial capitalism, and patriarchy. The law as it is currently constructed is, by default, a tool of domination; it requires serious effort to use the law as a tool for harm reduction, much more as a tool for liberation.

Dear W’all, The APALSA Board would like to build on the messages sent by theDred Scott Society, FGP, YLW, and BLSA to support and affirmthe message of our classmate Marina Edwards. It is critical for us as Asian American and Pacific Islander students to work in solidaritywith our peers – especially our Black peers who have been disproportionately impacted by this community harm and taken on disproportionate labor to repair it – to underscore the impact that this incident has had on our YLS community.

October 20

ave you ever wondered what deans of diversity do behind closed doors? Until last week, the public had little visibility into their methods. Then covertly recorded audio emerged of Yaseen Eldik, Yale Law School’s director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and Ellen Cosgrove, an associate dean, pressuring a student to issue a written apology for emailing out a party invitation that offended some of his classmates. ... The most significant question that remains unanswered at Yale Law School: Was this case unusual, or do the diversity bureaucrats at Yale treat lots of people this way behind closed doors? Cosgrove and Gerken, the law school’s dean, figured prominently in my colleague Elizabeth Bruenig’s report on a bizarre controversy that erupted around Amy Chua, a prominent Yale Law professor whom administrators apparently punished in the spring. Some students had made murky complaints that Chua had entertained other students at her home—and that this was evidence of a threat to students’ safety.

October 21

October 22

October 24

But there is a long history of white college students holding parties that ridicule Black culture. Fried chicken is a frequent feature of those parties. In New Haven, the Popeye’s closest to Yale is at the dividing line between "Yale" New Haven and the Black New Haven that Yale students often avoid. The term “basic bitch” originated in rap music.

For people like Prof. Koppelman and the privileged left, it's just plain weird that Yale students would ever want to leave their cocoon and patronize a business in scary New Haven. I remember in college at Yale we used to walk across the deserted Common to Burger King late at night, the thrill of the danger we had been warned about, and how neat it was when someone there asked if I wanted to buy "coke or smoke". But it wasn't that we liked slumming. It was that we liked french fries.


In contemporary parlance, “racist” has two distinctive definitions. One, the more familiar, subjective one, describes a person who consciously embraces an ideology of white supremacy. But another, newer meaning describes any speech or conduct that, intentionally or unintentionally, has the objective effect of promoting the institutions that tend to subordinate Black people. (Set aside that reasonable people often disagree about whether a given statement or action has that effect.)

The most innocent possible explanation for the use of the term in Eldik and Cosgrove’s message to the students would cite the second, objective meaning. (The subjective one would have been actionably defamatory.) The epithet “racist” was applied to the language, not its author. The objective meaning accounts for the weird fact that, as Colbert told me, “They sent that out while they were on the phone with me telling me that there’s no judgment here.” }}

October 25, Monday

Removal comes in the wake of widespread outrage about administration's response to party invite," Washington Free Beacon, Aaron Sibarium: {{Quotation| Yale Law School's Office of Student Affairs has removed all administrator profiles from its website "to protect staff members" in the wake of widespread outrage about the school's treatment of Trent Colbert, the second-year law student who invited classmates to his "trap house," according to a university spokeswoman. ... According to a now-deleted version of the student affairs website, Cosgrove's remit involves the bar exam's "character and fitness" investigations, which review aspiring lawyers' disciplinary records in considerable detail. ... An entry for Cosgrove—which contains no mention of her "character and fitness" duties—is still viewable on the law school's main website. Archived web pages indicate that the profiles were scrubbed between Oct. 13 and Oct. 18. ... Debra Kroszner, a spokeswoman for the university, said the "profile page for the Office of Student Affairs was temporarily taken down to protect staff members who have been receiving threatening emails and phone calls." But contact information for both Eldik and Cosgrove remains publicly available on the university's website for "discrimination and harassment concerns." ... Some have even called for the administrators to be fired. "If, after a full and fair hearing, administrators are found guilty of violating free speech or other academic freedom rights of students or faculty, they should be dismissed," said Princeton University's Robert George. "Until this begins to happen, you can expect more of this."

The Diversity Bureaucracy,"] The City Journal, Aaron Sibarium and Daniel Kennelly.