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Yale Professor Resigns After Halloween Costume Email Controversy

"Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious, a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?" she wrote in an email.

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A Yale professor who ignited unrest on campus after she sent a mass email arguing students should have the right to wear potentially offensive Halloween costumes has resigned from teaching, the university said Monday.

Racial tension heightened at Yale during Halloween after the lecturer, Erika Christakis, sent an email criticizing the idea that some costumes might be considered racially or culturally insensitive after another university official requested students not wear blackface or appropriate Native American symbols.

"Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious, a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?" Christakis, the associate master of Silliman College, wrote in an email. "If you don't like a costume someone is wearing, look away, or tell them you are offended."

The comment along with other racial tensions at the New Haven, Connecticut, school led to protests on campus that drew more than a 1,000 students.

"Erika Christakis is a well-regarded instructor, and the university's leadership is disappointed that she has chosen not to continue teaching in the spring semester," Yale University said in a statement. "Her teaching is highly valued and she is welcome to resume teaching anytime at Yale, where freedom of expression and academic inquiry are the paramount principle and practice."

The unrest at Yale occurred as weeks-long demonstrations took place at the University of Missouri over racial tensions that led to the resignation of the school's top leaders.

Erika Christakis' husband Nicholas Christakis, who also teaches at the university and defended his wife as the controversy started to accelerate, told the Yale Daily News that he will take a sabbatical in the next semester.

Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.

Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at michelle@buzzfeed.com.

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