Yale claims it was keeping Kissinger talk secret because of limited seating

“Asking for confidentiality and not publicizing beforehand simply avoids requests...the University could not fill"

Published March 25, 2014 12:00PM (EDT)

  (Reuters/Ria Novosti)
(Reuters/Ria Novosti)

Yale University defended urging students to respect the confidentiality of an upcoming Henry Kissinger speech, telling Salon Monday evening that “Asking for confidentiality and not publicizing beforehand simply avoids requests that the University could not fill.”

As Salon first reported, a Monday listserv email from Jackson Institute for Global Affairs associate director Larisa Satara invited history graduate students to attend a Friday address by the former Ford/ Nixon secretary of state, who has been accused of violating human rights in countries including Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Chile, Cyprus and East Timor. Satara’s email listed stipulations including that the event “is BY INVITE only,” and told students, “Dr. Kissinger’s visit to campus will not be publicized, so we appreciate your confidentiality with respect to this exciting opportunity.” The talk is scheduled to take place Friday at 3:30 p.m. in Yale's Lei Zhang Auditorium.

In an evening email to Salon, Satara said that sentence “simply refers to the fact that this is a Yale event and that seating is limited. We simply do not have the space to attend and have limited the invites to current Yale students who have demonstrated an interest in the topic of the conference …”

Satara noted that the Kissinger talk was “part of the activities of the Johnson Center for the Study of American Diplomacy,” adding, “These conferences are annual event[s] and have been widely publicized.” (In 2011, Yale announced that Kissinger was donating "approximately one million documents and objects" to the university, and that those "Kissinger Archives" would "serve as the foundation" for the new Johnson Center, which would host Kissinger Senior Fellows and Kissinger Visiting Scholars). Satara offered a link to a 2013 Yale press release touting Kissinger’s participation in that year’s conference (as well as that of Jackson senior fellow Stan McChrystal). That press release included a quote calling Kissinger “a world-renowned statesman but also an exceptional scholar, whose memoirs and writings on foreign affairs continue to inspire and remain just as relevant as ever.” It was released the day after his 2013 appearance.

By Josh Eidelson

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Campus Education Foreign Policy Henry Kissinger Stanley Mcchrystal Vietnam Yale