SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: February 29, 2024

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):Yale University

Region & Country:Americas | United States of America

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On February 29, 2024, around 10 demonstrators affiliated with the Revolutionary Communist party interrupted a class taught by Timothy Snyder, the Richard C. Levin Professor of History at Yale University.

The demonstrators entered the classroom where Snyder was teaching his course on “Hitler, Stalin, and Us,” shortly after the class began. A video posted to the Revcom website shows Raymond Lotta, a political economist and advocate of new communism, walk into the classroom and announce “We are the Revcoms. No class as usual today. There is a state of emergency, a state of emergency caused by this capitalist, imperialist system.”

Snyder asked the demonstrators to leave. When they refused, he apparently called Yale campus security, and moved his class to a different location. According to Lotta, Yale security informed the demonstrators that they were trespassing and could not return to the campus without authorization. Lotta later wrote in the Yale Daily News objecting to the characterization of what happened as an “evacuation” of a class, saying, “We didn’t force anyone to go anywhere, much less to “evacuate,” which would imply danger. No one’s safety was put at risk.”

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the forcible disruption of university class by individuals not affiliated with the university. Members of the public have a responsibility to respect institutional autonomy and refrain from interfering in the functioning of higher education. The forcible disruption of classroom instruction undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.