A student wrote the letter below to President Levin:
Dear President Levin,
Let me begin by saying that walking onto Old Campus as a freshman was one of the proudest moments of my life, and that I am daily grateful for what I have here: opportunities to learn and grow as a person that are unmatched anywhere, and the chance to interact with and learn from both peers and those older and wiser. Yale has been, in so many immeasurable ways, a blessing.
But it is a blessing that can be overwhelming; being surrounded by so much excellence is disorienting. So early freshmen year, a kind senior introduced me to Indigo Blue, the former center of Buddhist life at Yale.
I’m not, strictly speaking, Buddhist, but the words “come and go without hindrance” made Stillness and Light, the nightly meditation sessions, the first place on campus that I felt warmly and explicitly welcomed to. Before that, everything on campus had clamored for my attention, but none of them also gave me explicit permission to leave. This lack of obligation is what set Indigo Blue, for me, apart from all the other religious offerings on campus. It was the only place where I felt my blind faith could be enough.
From that September in 2010 on, so many of the defining moments of my life while at Yale have been at Indigo Blue. My frantic friends found my Freshmen Screw date at the lunar New Year’s celebration after a communal cooking session. In the midst of a sophomore slump when I couldn’t stay in my room because even my well-meaning roommate wasn’t helpful, I was at Stillness and Night, just to sit, just to breathe, every week. I turned twenty there this past January, surrounded by the soft flickering light of candles, and without the loud parties that I just didn’t want. As I left, I thought it would be the place I turned twenty one. Most recently, last April, when my grandfather passed away, I found myself stepping into Battell as soon as Stillness and Light started. I had spent the day in a daze, going to classes, going to meetings, attending to my obligations on campus. The first words I said to Bruce when I saw him was “I need a place to grieve. I need somewhere to cry.”
But last Monday, Indigo Blue was disaffiliated with no explanation, no warning, and no offered replacement. Today, the shrines have been removed. Today, I don’t know where I will go to mourn my dead. I don’t know who will chant for my grandfather this April the scriptures that he was familiar with unasked. I don’t know where my sanctuary this year when the stress of junior year piles up is anymore. I no longer have a chaplain who will simply listen. Two years ago, around this time, I found a place of refuge that told me that sanctity was not bound by religious doctrine. Today, the places I’ve cherished as sacred for two years are being dismantled.
I no longer know where I will go to cry.
The space that took my mind away from my problems by allowing me to serve my community, even if only with barley tea, no longer recognizes my ID. And I just don’t understand. I don’t know how or why this decision was made.
I do know that I would like to meet with you in person to discuss this sometime next week. The disregard for student well being that dismantling such a place indicates, whether intentional or not, is not worthy of a school that I have always been so proud to hail from, and loved so intensely. Indigo Blue has been my anchor at Yale for the last two years, I cannot think how my next two will pass without something similar.
Thank you for your time,