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We Don't Need Their Elite Voices to Speak Up for Us; We Need Their Elite Ears to Listen

Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.

-Edward Everett

Recent news from Yale University has me questioning the benefits of political correctness and whether or not we’re taking this for-profit virtue signaling a little too far. In an email blast to students about a party on campus, two students used the term “trap house” to describe the event they were hosting. Students who received the email, assumably unsolicited, complained to campus officials that the students used a racially charged and insensitive term to describe their event.


In response, an associate dean at the University agreed with those offended by the email and determined that it contained “pejorative and racist language.” They proceeded to draft an apology letter for the students responsible to sign. “Trap house” which is a term used in pop culture, is traditionally used to describe a place where illegal drugs are sold. The term, itself, does not indicate anything about race, but is often associated to poorer neighborhoods where drug sales flourish.


After an administrative review, Yale Dean Heather Gerken determined that the students responsible for the email blast need to arrive at their own conclusions on whether or not their actions warrant an apology. Gerken proceeded to recognize our human right to freedom of speech as the “cornerstone of every academic community,” and rightfully so.


If “trap house” can be declared a “racially insensitive” term at Yale University, one of the most prestigious universities in the entire world, where do the limits on the English language end? You my disagree, but suggesting that these two Ivy League college students intended anything racist by their campus party invites is quite the stretch. With all of the options available in our language to express a hate for members of a different race, they chose to describe their own residence, where they were to be hosting a party, as a trap house. Intention no longer matters as long as there is an opportunity present to cause a scene in the name of the "greater good."

In my opinion, this is just another case where people are offended for the likes. Who actually received this email and felt that their livelihood was threatened by the words chosen by these two men? Probably nobody, but I do believe there were a number of students who ran off to campus officials claiming that they didn’t feel safe. We’re not going to skirt the First Amendment by declaring new terms and phrases sensitive to minority groups.

Yale University is attended by the world’s most brilliant students and students whose parents are wealthy enough to buy their way in. It’s safe to assume that the majority of students at Yale didn’t grow up in or around an actual trap house. What’s more likely, however, is they’ve seen the term used by their favorite celebrities romanticizing the concept and thought it would be cool to use in their email invite. The people offended are always offended on other people’s behalf.

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