Category Archive 'Colleges and Universities'
09 May 2013
The Trinity College Chapel
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education reports that tyrannical efforts to stamp out fraternities at Trinity College may have backfired and led to the early departure of the revolutionary regime.
Trinity College President James Jones announced his intention to step down from his post in June 2014, one year before the end of his contract. Jones reported in the same email that Board of Trustees Chair Paul E. Raether will also leave the Trustees’ top position. Trinity’s two top leaders signaled their departures as student and alumni dissatisfaction is increasing over a new social code that violates Trinity’s promises of freedom of association and effectively bans fraternities and sororities through gender quotas and other measures. ...
In October 2012, Trinity’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved the recommendations of a report by the Charter Committee for Building Social Community at Trinity College, including a new social code that will effectively eliminate fraternities, sororities, and other campus social organizations. Among the new requirements for such organizations are:
All social organizations must be recognized and approved by the college, and students are prohibited from participating in unrecognized social organizations. Students who associate with unapproved groups “will be subject to separation from the College.”
Social organizations may not be single-sex. “Trinity students,” the code states, “shall not be affiliated with national organizations that do not adhere to a coeducational philosophy.”
Quotas for gender parity in membership and leadership. By 2016, all fraternities and sororities must achieve 45% “minority gender” membership and 40% minority gender leadership. Organizations that fail to do so will be prohibited.
The new requirements are specifically targeted at Greek life on campus, as musical, athletic, and even academic and professional organizations are explicitly exempted.
Trinity also intends to seize the properties of organizations that do not comply with the new code, stating that the college will “establish a fair sale price for these assets with alumni owners and reassign them to another organization for the betterment of the College.”
14 Apr 2013
Esther Zuckerman poses as a SWUG. My commenters are often smarter than I am. One of them, unlike me, noticed that Esther Zuckerman actually used a picture of Tina Fey to illustrate the SWUG type. The “NBC” under the photo should have been a clue. Sigh.
The Urban Dictionary provides the definition:
Senior Washed-Up Girl.
The term goes back a couple of years, but the SWUG concept only recently attracted major attention as the result of a lengthy think piece in the Yale Daily News by Raisa Bruner exploring the culture, the pros and cons, and all possible nuances of SWUGdom, its relationship to Feminism, SWUGdom as fate, as life-phase, as life-style, and as identity.
Yale definitely teaches young people how to play theme and variations on a concept, and Ms. Bruner’s piece caught the attention of one Justin Rocket Silverman (Now that is a millenial generation name!) who, writing in The Cut brought all this to the attention of the World Outside Yale.
Yale senior Raisa Bruner [is] kind of tired of the free-wheeling frat hookup culture that’s so compelling to younger students. The guys know this about women her age, she says, and so they don’t generally hit on senior girls. If she went to Sigma Nu, she’d watch her male classmates focus on that infinitely more fun classmate, the female freshman.
Bruner is a self-identified SWUG — a senior washed up girl. As she explained in a recent feature in the Yale Daily News, to be a SWUG is to embrace “the slow, wine-filled decline of female sexual empowerment as we live out our college glory days. Welcome to the world of the ladies who have given up on boys because they don’t so much empower as frustrate, satisfy as agitate.”
She and her fellow SWUGs are women who don’t bother dressing up for class, or even for fancy parties (though they might still attend them), don’t seek out meaningful (or even just sexual) relationships, spend weekends at their shared homes drinking in the company of other self-identified SWUGs, and feel utter apathy about their personal lives — all at the age of 21.
Gawker decided that all this SWUG stuff really amounted to just a pose and a demand for some attention.
Declaring “‘I don’t give a fuck’ at the right moment,” does not a “more complex person” make. Rather than embracing personal growth internally, there is a clamorous, exaggerated declaration that growing out of a social scene is the equivalent of being “washed-up” in the face of other’s halcyon days. Overall, SWUG-life appears to be a melodramatic desire to make an identity out of boredom and dissatisfaction with the collegiate social scene.
Esther Zuckerman (Y’ 12), at the Atlantic, tells us that she was already a SWUG as a junior two years ago.
I first heard about the term SWUG during my junior year when I was working at the Daily News. From what I can recall, it was described to me as having been coined by a group of girls in the senior class, and I hated it. Yale had been debating treatment of women on campus all year—the school was about to face a Title IX investigation—and the idea of calling any girls on campus “washed-up” was to me offensive and demeaning (the specific words I used in a heated Gchat conversation), even if some fellow women had used the label on themselves.
But I changed my mind on SWUGs as I sort of realized I was one. Looking back through my Gmail inbox today, I crossed into my senior year, when, for me and my friends, SWUG came to be a way we described an attitude that we already possessed. SWUG meant getting meatball subs on a snowy night. SWUGs watched an episode of New Girl twice in a row with a lot red wine. SWUGs baked brownies. In our version of SWUG, an idol might be Liz Lemon, to whom Jack Donaghy once said: “Big night, Lemon? Let me guess meatball sub extra, bottle of NyQuil, TiVo Top Chef, a little miss Bonnie Raitt, lights out.” My fellow would-be SWUGs and I listened to a lot of “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” We cared about our academics and our future careers, but when it came to our social lives in the confines of Yale, well, we, as seniors, couldn’t care less.
The whole SWUG business may have really been put on the map at Yale by a Daily News article by Chloe Drimal, published last September, titled: Profile of a SWUG.
You’ve all met one. They’re usually at penny shots promptly at 11 p.m. come Wednesday night, and are then found in Durfee’s around 1 p.m. the next day, buying every liquid they can get their hands on.
I was jealous of them when I was a freshman. They were on a nickname basis with the hottest guys at Yale and danced at the bar of DKE with their shirts off. But looking back on it, I realize the boys were trying to get with the freshmen, not the SWUGs. ...
She’s the girl who Kevin, the bartender at Toad’s, hugs when she stumbles in Wednesday night. She’ll dance like no one’s looking. She’s a SWUG. She doesn’t care. Tommy at Box 63 and Compadre at Amigos will both give her free shots on occasion; they are not doing this for freshman girls — only for SWUGs.
She’s the girl in the Zeta basement, before the Coach Reno era, who is biting into a can with her teeth to shotgun on a Sunday. Although she could never beat the Zeta boys in a shotgun, she can beat most ADPhi boys.
She’s the girl who knows the code to get into DKE. She knows the code for ADPhi. (If any single senior girl has the key to Zeta, she may want to seek help.) Facebook bores her. She uses Facebook to find out different football players’ birthdays and plugs them into an astrology website to test their compatibility. She is compatible with no one.
She’s the girl who promised she would never hook up with someone younger than her but now finds herself texting sophomore boys who unavoidably turn her down. She thinks this is funny. She thinks about getting a vibrator; she may already have a vibrator. It may be better than that sophomore boy.
She doesn’t need to walk home late at night and chance getting mugged by a New Haven local because she will just sleep on a couch in one of the frats. The late night crew at G-Heav knows to start making her an egg and cheese when they see her stumble through the door, and sometimes they will allow her to dance behind the counter and crack an egg herself. Again, they don’t do this for the young, hot, freshman girls — only SWUGs.
She’s the girl who tells her friends she is going to have a “friendship night.” When they ask what this means she explains she is going to make a guy want her and then turn him down. She gets drunk and wakes up next to the guy she was going to turn down. She knows this will go nowhere, as she has already plugged his birthday into the compatibility website, and their score was a two. She makes up a short lie about a meeting and asks him to leave her room and then goes back to bed. She doesn’t return his texts. She’s a SWUG.
She is the last one at every party, because hey — who is she going home with? She’s not afraid to dance on tables and knows the top floor of any frat always has the cleanest bathroom. She is wise. She is hot, whether the boys believe it or not. She doesn’t give a hoot. She’s single because she wants to be; her daddy told her there’s more fish in the sea. She is a SWUG, and SWUG life is pretty awesome.
Drimal’s glorification of the SWUG made her in a campus celebrity, profiled by the Yale Herald.
If anyone is not totally SWUGed out at this point, he can turn to some more discussions which appeared in the Oldest College Daily.
On a personal note, we had hook ups at Yale in my day, but we did not have either the term or the identical hook up culture. I think that, as I remember it, quite a lot of female seniors in those days had long since taken anticipated Susan Patton’s advice and were in long-term relationships with Yale men.
The SWUG concept reminds me of the characteristic resentment of ordinarily-groomed-and-dressed Yale girls toward male friends’ dates from outside Yale.
The girl from Smith staying over at Yale would arrive at breakfast nicely dressed, in full make-up, hair in perfect order, and her escort’s female Yale friends and neighbors would glower and make faces, regarding his date’s superior efforts at presentation as personal affronts.
Yale girls all tended to think dating outside Yale constituted both punishable treason and firm evidence of bad taste. I once took a date to a performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, in which my current wife was singing in the chorus, and found Karen was using every opportunity that my then girlfriend’s eyes were averted to make faces at me.
05 Apr 2013
Bowdoin’s Art Museum
Back in the 1960s, Bowdoin’s College Bowl team mopped up on the television contest show whose questions focused on academic knowledge. I thought seriously of going there, but took Yale’s offer instead simply because the larger university offered an even greater selection of course offerings.
Bowdoin is still generally regarded highly. In fact, it is ranked sixth in liberal arts by U.S. News & World Report. But a new study by the National Association of Scholars, released on Wednesday, contends that Bowdoin has become an instrument for partisan indoctrination with Progressive ideology.
Bowdoin boasts of training its students in critical thinking. The NAS study concludes:
[Allegedly] Bowdoin’s emphasis [is] on “critical thinking,” but the real… emphasis [is] on politics. Politics is enthroned at Bowdoin where Reason once reigned. Like all usurpers, this one presents itself as the legitimate heir of the old order. Bowdoin manages this substitution by claiming that Reason all along was political and that “truth claims,” seen accurately through the lens of “critical thinking,” are only assertions of self-interest by the powerful. Since everything was politics anyway, why not promote the politics you prefer? This is the short route to replacing open-minded liberal education with political activism centered on diversity, multiculturalism, same-sex marriage, sustainability, etc.
So, despite Bowdoin’s lack of cohesive intellectual order, it is a “whole” and can be examined as something that possesses organic unity. In that light, our guiding questions were: What kinds of knowledge does Bowdoin emphasize or prize? What does it want all Bowdoin students to learn? What does it want all Bowdoin faculty members to teach? What intellectual habits and attitudes does it cultivate? What understanding of the unity of knowledge does it prompt students to recognize? What divisions of knowledge? What abiding perplexities and matters for lifelong study? What moral yearnings does it plant in the souls of students? How does it urge students to comprehend the self, and what qualities does it uphold as worthy of pursuit? What qualities as better restrained or overcome? How should we treat other people? What obligations do we have as citizens? What are our obligations of stewardship to the achievements of past generations? What are our obligations to the generations to come? What combination of knowledge and character represents an ideal towards which students should strive? What is the good life? What is the good society?
Bowdoin does not spend much time debating possible answers. Rather, it has settled doctrine that informs students what sorts of knowledge, habits, dispositions, and aspirations are desirable. What does Bowdoin want all students to learn? The importance of diversity, respect for “difference,” sustainability, the social construction of gender, the need to obtain “consent,” the common good, world citizenship, and critical thinking. The answers embedded in these terms are not, as we have noted, arrived at by careful weighing of arguments and evidence. The general procedure has been for the college president to announce a “commitment,” such as President Mills’s announcement in 2007 that he had signed the “College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment,” or the College’s 2009 release of its “Carbon Neutrality Implementation Plan.” The same procedures underlie Bowdoin’s creation of the Studies programs, its commitment to minority student recruitment, and its determination to increase the number of minority and women faculty members.
All of these decisions may well have captured the prevailing views of Bowdoin faculty members and students. They might well have, therefore, prevailed in open debate. But as far as we can tell, there was no meaningful debate. Without hesitation, Bowdoin skips to certainties on some of the most contentious issues of our time. What most should be subject to debate never is.
When critical thinking is most necessary, it is most absent. What happens at the level of college policy is reflected at the level of college culture. When Bowdoin speaks of the “common good,” when it promotes “diversity” and “inclusivity” and apotheosizes “difference,” it is similarly by-passing debate on the idea s that are at the center of the great debates in America today. Rather than give these debates a respectful and full hearing, the college pre-empts them with closed-minded orthodoxies.
Of course, not only Bowdoin practices this same kind of one-sided, ideological indoctrination. Yale certainly does, as well—to one degree or another—as every other elite university and college in America.
25 Mar 2013
Earlier this month, it was revealed that the management of this year’s Sex Week at Yale circulated a questionaire inquiring about Yale students’ sexual histories, whether they’d ever had sex for money, and what sort of activities had they participated in. Campus Reform blog
I personally smiled sardonically and shrugged when the Daily Mail swallowed this silliness whole and when one editorialist at NR online also climbed on board, worrying aloud about what all this pre-matriculation-at-college debauchery must say about the state of our civilization.
The Daily Mail is a British newspaper and, let’s face it, some of the guys who write for NR do not have personally an Ivy League background, so a little confusion about the meaning and validity of that particular poll was understandable. But, as the French flavorfully put it: “Il ne faut pas de enculer des mouches” [One does not sodomize flies]. I decided not even to dignify this nonsense by remarking on it.
I was clearly wrong. Some flies will keep demanding attention until they get it.
First of all, a few days ago, on Facebook, a prominent conservative intellectual I know (who did not go to Yale), was linking another instance of the one-out-of-ten-Yale-undergraduates-have-been-hookers news meme. So, I intervened and pointed out that in evaluating all this, one needed to reflect on in just what way the typical Yale undergraduate is likely to respond to blithering, intrusive, and basically bizarre questions about his-or-her sex life written up in ridiculous form by a professional “sexologist” who operates a suburban store selling dildos. I was only surprised that number of affirmative answers to the weirder questions was so low.
More recently, even Glenn Reynolds (who went to Yale Law, and ought to know better) was repeating this important meme.
March 21, 2013
HIGHER EDUCATION UPDATE: Nine Percent of Yale Students Surveyed Say They’ve Accepted Money for Sex. “Nine percent of Yale University students who participated in a recent survey on sexual behavior reported having been paid for sex at least once. Three percent said they had participated in bestiality, and more than half said they had ‘engaged in consensual pain’ during sex.”
When I read this sort of thing, I think back fondly to Ken Kesey appearing at Yale, during the Revolution, to announce to the nation his candidacy for the presidency (opposing Richard Nixon in 1972). Kesey was visibly inflamed with self-righteous political passion, egomania, and some sort of mood altering substances. He proudly delivered his diatribe, and began taking his bows while condescendingly accepting questions from the audience.
The Yale undergrad questioners began cruelly playing with Kesey like some cats playing with a mouse. They gravely expressed agreement with his nonsensical propositions, and deliberately and skillfully drew him farther and farther out along fanciful limbs of patently ridiculous claims pertaining to his qualifications for high office and elicited from him some extremely potentially embarassing proposals for national policies involving sex, drugs, and Rock & Roll. Then, the audience began mocking him. People asked unkind questions, like whether he might not be too stoned to campaign effectively. Kesey became infuriated, and he began exchanging invitiations to come up and fight him for catcalls from the floor. And that was how the audience at Ken Kesey’s presidential campaign announcement at Yale sank that campaign on its opening night.
Someday, boys and girls, I should tell you what we did to Norman Mailer, but that is another story. In any event, it is necessary to bear in mind, that most people who get into Yale are very, very bright, and that Yalies have a tendency to mock fools.
20 Mar 2013
Teo Soares ‘13 did some recent navel-gazing in the Oldest College Daily on the perennial sterotype of the classic Yale man, against which Yale undergraduates have unsuccessfully compared themselves since roughly the time of Nathan Hale.
Yalies own MacBooks, smartphones, blazers; they wear boat shoes in October and North Face jackets in November; they eat in restaurants that serve neither endless pasta bowls nor specials with names like “Lobsterfest” and “Admiral’s Feast”; they know how to handle chopsticks; they shell out $1.75 for coffee at Starbucks while Atticus, less than 30 yards away, charges a flat buck.
And also: Yalies vacation abroad; they call New York “the city”; they have access to their parents’ credit card; they hold true a geography that includes places like Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard; in short, they show signs of what might be broadly labeled “privilege.”
I mention these stereotypes because I share them. In my head, I conceive a group of students to whom they apply. These are the real Yalies, the people who truly belong — and this is of course a fallacy.
That I weigh my own Yalie-ness against that standard is a defense mechanism, a way of coping with the fact that, even as a second-semester senior, I sometimes feel I don’t belong.
Read the whole thing.
Back in my day, everyone knew that, properly speaking, the genuine Yale man ought to have spent his secondary school years at one of perhaps a dozen elite preparatory schools, starting with Andover and ending somewhere around Lawrenceville or the Hill. The authentic Yale man was tall, elegant, handsome, and athletic, and had won his letter playing football against Harvard or (possibly better yet) rowing crew.
His true defining feature, however, was effortless competence, succeeding at everything and rising naturally to the top leadership positions on campus and joining the most exclusive clubs, all without ever being seen by anyone actually to be trying. True Yalieness in the old days was indistinguishable from the Yale cult of coolness, of nonchalance at any cost.
The material emblems of membership in the real Yale were the aged, but recognizably expensive, tweed sport coat, khaki pants, and a pair of deliberately unmaintained white bucks.
Sporting an aged pair of buckskin oxfords simultaneously proved that you habitually moved in the kind of circles who dressed all in white and played croquet between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and that you had owned the esoteric footwear appropriate for such occasions so long that you had an aged pair, unmaintained and demoted for use in daily walking around. The kind of person seen wearing aged and soiled white bucks on weekdays in Winter would be thought to represent the very height of Yale cool, and would be referred to as “shoe.”
Needless to say, in my day as well, the actual majority of Yale undergraduates had attended public high schools, failed to resemble closely the Paul Stuart man, and had yet to acquire their first pair of white bucks. But we, too, just like Teo Soares today, thought deeply about these things.
Hat tip to James Harberson.
08 Mar 2013
Just look at those unruly Bryn Mawr girls hazing one another in the old days!
Like most elite schools, Seven Sisters member Bryn Mawr, Katherine Hepburn’s alma mater, has certain traditions. One key Bryn Mawr tradition has always been Hell Week, a series of mock ordeals and festivities designed to provide an interlude of mid-Winter amusement as well as to welcome the freshman class to full college citizenship and to cement undergraduate ties of fellowship.
The mock hazing of freshman and (non-sexual) undergraduate festivities prove this year too dreadful to be tolerated by Bryn Mawr’s administration.
The dean of undergraduates recorded such atrocities having occurred as:
Requiring first-year students to swear alliance to Radnor over a keg.
Shouting at first-year students with and without bullhorn.
Throwing items in common room (toilet paper, cardboard). Some items thrown into audience (may have been at first-year students).
Creating potential for injury by playing wiffle beer (essentially baseball with beer cans and a wiffle bat).
Requiring first-year students to go outside for “class photo” but in reality dumping water on them. (Unclear if photo was really taken.)
Telling first-year students to stand outside, wet and some without shoes, and forcing them to listen to the Radnor goddess speech.
Smoking indoors (cigarettes during the trial; a hookah during the party).
Being on the roof (roof was accessed from second floor kitchen window).
Violating the party policy by holding an unregistered party after Trials.
Underage drinking (most sophomores and juniors are not 21) and excessive drinking during trials.
That Dean (presumably named Wormser) responded vigorously:
“It is clear from this long list of violations…that immediate steps must be taken to foster significant culture change in Radnor,” the letter states. As a result of the night’s activities, all Radnor Dorm Presidents resigned, all current Radnor customs people were relieved of their duties, and every upperclass student in Radnor is required to write a letter of apology to the Radnor first-years.
He even leaked the news of all this to the vulgar-deviant-commie blog cesspool Jezebel, which piously congratulated his pompous fraudulence for conspicuous political correctitude:
It’s definitely refreshing that there’s at least one university administration that’s actively committed to changing a culture it feels is problematic.
Regrettably, I think there is a lot more than one university administration staffed by equivalent nincompoops and adhering to the same ridiculous standards of sanctimony.
Alumna Scarlett looks on Hell Week very differently, and testifies that it even changed her mind about the college.
Hell Week is the most complicated tradition, and very difficult to describe on paper. For me, it was the turning point when I decided that I did indeed want to stay at Bryn Mawr.
03 Mar 2013
Ted Cruz got himself described as “the new McCarthy” by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker for asking Chuck Hagel about accepting speaker fees from North Korea. Mayer then dug deeper, and disclosed that, two and half years ago at a 4th of July speech, Cruz reminisced about his days at Harvard Law School (1992-1995), observing that Barack Obama would make a perfect president of Harvard’s Law School, which in Cruz’s time had “fewer Republicans than communists.”
Bill O’Reilly and Mitt Romney both also spent time at the little institution on the Charles, and both of them have also recently had critical things to say about Harvard’s characteristic politics and influence.
Well, you can only take so much, and the editors of the Harvard Crimson struck back this week, openly urging conservatives dissenters not even to apply for admission.
If you think Harvard is a revolutionary communist hotbed, don’t apply. If you think Harvard is full of “pinheaded” professors, don’t enroll. And if you think Harvard pollutes the minds of its students, don’t walk out of here with a degree—and certainly don’t get two.
As Daniel Webster might have said: “It’s a bright-red, anti-American school, stuffed to the rafters with bolshies peddling pin-headed, crack-brained ideas, but some love it.”
26 Feb 2013
Bones’ delegation, then and now. I prefer then.
The Atlantic smiles approvingly and congratulates that dreadful conspiratorial society formerly comprised nearly exclusively of elite white males for going all PC diversity.
The class of 2010 included more ethnic minorities than Caucasians; 2011’s delegation included two gay students, plus one bisexual and one transgender. Last year, women and men were equally split, according to Yalies familiar with the members.
“We try to come up with a group that is representative of the diverse social elements Yale offers,” says a Bonesman from recent years. ...
The organization’s seismic shift also affects the way new members are selected. Bonesmen now actively seek out diverse candidates, in some cases to atone for their predecessors’ role in shunning them.
“Some of us wanted to undo certain attitudes of the past,” says E., a woman selected in the 2000s. “We wanted to actively negate them.”
Actually, the truth of that matter is that Bones was always eminently politically correct, in whatever sense of correctness dominated the politics of the day. One of the surest ways to get tapped for Bones for many years was to be the loudest leftist agitator on campus. The last time Bones tapped an actual known conservative was probably in 1956, when one chairman of the Party of the Right was selected for membership.
The core philosophy of Skull & Bones would be in complete accord with that of Lampedusa’s Don Fabrizio, Prince of Salina, in The Leopard:
“If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”
17 Feb 2013
The Berkeley College Dining Hall at Yale
The Yale Daily News recently did a feature exploring what life is like for meritocratic recruits from financially disadvantaged backgrounds at Yale.
MacBooks. Dooney & Bourke bags. MoMA and the Met. These were the things that [she didn’t have, that Shanaz Chowdhery ’13] says, set her apart.
It didn’t take long for [her] to notice that people were different at Yale. “There was all this cultural capital that people seemed to have,” she says.
Where she was from, no one read The New Yorker on Sundays.
The differences weren’t just cultural, either: Chowdhery recalls her shock at seeing girls walking around campus with $100 handbags.
After she noticed that so many students here used Macs, she says, she looked up the price and couldn’t believe her eyes. Her classmates were lounging on Old Campus with $2,000 laptops.
Chowdhery’s father put her generic Windows laptop on a credit card. She believes he was paying it off her entire freshman year.
Even after being admitted, many students from lower-income backgrounds feel socially aloof from their wealthier classmates.
For Leonard Thomas ’14, feelings of difference and isolation were the largest obstacles to overcome as he transitioned from life in Detroit to being a student at Yale. “I felt poor here,” he says. “I didn’t necessarily feel poor in Detroit because I wasn’t the extreme case.
“I’m an extreme case of poverty here.”
David Truong ’14 still remembers what it was like to move into his freshman dorm. As he watched a suitemate buy a TV stand, a TV and an Xbox without hesitation, he cringed while paying for clothes hangers and plastic storage bins for his room. That first weekend when everyone was getting to know each other, Truong struggled with suite discussions about splitting the cost of a couch. The expectation that everyone would be contributing to the cost of furnishing the suite, while he thought it fair, was an adjustment.
That expectation of spending does not disappear after move-in weekend. Jennifer Friedmann ’13 says that Yale has a “culture around money.” “You were expected to be able to go out to dinner,” she said. “If I had a coffee date with someone, it was expected that everyone was buying coffee and that it wasn’t a financial burden for anyone.” But Friedmann did not want the fact that she was on financial aid to interfere with her ability to socialize with anyone on campus, regardless of socio-economic background. By shopping at thrift stores, she says she found it more feasible to “be a social person on this campus without making people feel weird about me being on financial aid.”
I can remember friends of mine doing the thrift shop thing, and sometimes finding some really excellent Harris Tweed sport coats at derisory prices, back during the Cretaceous Period, when I was at Yale.
I grew up in an economically-depressed mining town in Northeastern Pennsylvania and got a full scholarship to Yale, so I’m personally quite well acquainted with the kind of experiences described in the Yalie Dailey’s feature.
I was well-insulated from social insecurity by personal arrogance and family pride, but financially I was a total idiot. I had never previously had a checkbook, and the Yale Coop presented you on arrival as a freshman with a credit card (and access to a store full of books and records).
My approach to poverty at Yale was to join in happily with the revels of my more-affluent classmates and perhaps even to cut a bit more of a dash than some of those. Like Mr. Micawber, I assumed all that financial stuff would work itself out somehow or other. However, the dour Puritan prep school regime extended onward into college life in those days, and fiscally-irresponsible black sheep like myself faced unlimited possible forms of vengeance at the hands of their residential college deans.
Inevitably, I found myself, before long, out of Yale, back in Pennsylvania in disgrace, and now classified 1-A by Richard Nixon’s draft board.
When I returned to Yale, several years later, I accidentally became involved in operating a successful film society, which happily provided me with the kind of income I needed to survive.
The Yale Daily News, I think, is basically correct in noting that naive and immature adolescents from extremely provincial backgrounds, however talented, are going to run into some real adaptation issues if they decide to accept the gold-engraved invitation to jump into the great big pond of elite university education, and not everyone will adapt.
I was one of six meritocratic Yale admissions accepted into a special Early Concentration in Philosophy program. Of our six oh-so-gifted young men, four got kicked out of Yale. Two of the four were eventually re-admitted. The other two never came back, and have never been heard from by the rest of us again. There has always been a pretty high casualty rate in the meritocracy.
And, speaking of finances and Ivy League schools, Brown, it seems, is now charging $57,232 plus a bunch of add-on fees. Whew!
But, hey! Sex change operations and nudity workshops come with that.
Hat tip to the Barrister.
02 Feb 2013
Professor John C. Darnell, former chairman of Yale’s Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Department
John C. Darnell was a romantic figure on campus looked upon as Yale’s own answer to Indiana Jones, as this admiring profile from 2007 attests:
Professor John Darnell, the chair of Yale’s Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations department, has almost as much legend surrounding him as Indiana Jones, and infinitely more credibility. For years, he has brought Egypt to students and, in many cases, students to Egypt. His charisma and quirky teaching style have made him such a Yale character that he has inspired the Facebook group “John C. Darnell: Man, Myth, or Legend?” Given his experiences in Northern Africa, he just might deserve it.
When I first opened the door to Darnell’s office, I was greeted by strains of choral music and the strong scent of sherry. He beckoned me in and shook my hand as a handful of NELC professors left the room. “We were having a faculty meeting,” he said, gesturing towards the wine glasses scattered around the room. With his three-piece-suit, pocket watch, monocle, and supremely erudite sense of academic zeal, Darnell appeared to be exactly what one would expect of a stuffy Ivy League academic chair. Although he looks as though he were plucked from Victorian London, Darnell actually hails from Prattville, Alabama, and is anything but stodgy. ...
When Darnell is not moonlighting as a professor, he spends his time wandering the Egyptian desert with his students and colleagues, hunting for archeological clues and combating heat, scorpions, and antiquities thieves along the way. “Let me think of some good stories for you,” he said, then paused for a few moments. “Actually… I’m going to ask Colleen. She’ll be able to think of some.” He banged on the wall of his office to summon Assistant Professor Colleen Manassa, the department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies, into the room. “Some people say I take the ‘assistant’ part of ‘assistant professor’ a little literally,” he said with a smile. Manassa, a sharp young woman with Cleopatra bangs, soon arrived. For the next hour, she provided prompts and offered helpful translations of Darnell’s occasionally labyrinthine digressions. ...
[S]tories of baby snakes and broken cars were only the warm-up to the real adventures. Though Darnell is no tomb raider, it turns out that he still has to race against thieves to make it to sites before they do. Often, local tomb raiders will dig right through valuable ancient inscriptions, hoping to find gold hidden in the rocks. “Every time you find a site, you have to act as though it is probably the last time that you will see that site intact,” Darnell said.
Perhaps the most incredible tale Darnell told involved chasing after a cadre of thieves that he, with his team and a group of soldiers, had frightened away from a site. As they drove back from the site, they noticed a large object the size of the house on the horizon. As they neared it, they realized that it was a quarry dump truck, a tall vehicle that requires a ladder to make it up to the driver’s seat. It clearly had no business out on the desert road, and when the vehicles finally neared each other, both stopped.
“At first,” said Darnell, “everyone was frightened, and then we realized, ‘Hey, we’ve got all these AK-47s and other sorts of arms.’” ...
[H]is originality shows in the classroom. Ashley Young ’10, a student of his and the creator of the “Man, Myth, or Legend” Facebook group, couldn’t say enough in praise of Darnell’s unusual tactics and striking charisma. “He has such a command of historical knowledge that students can’t help but be in awe of him… He made ancient Egypt come alive in my eyes,” she said. She has particularly fond memories of quirky moments in class, such as when Darnell accidentally took a chunk out of a classroom chair with an ancient sword, or when he taught his students how to send Roman smoke signals to each other.
By the time I left Darnell’s office, I was tempted to join the Facebook group myself. As I walked out, he asked Manassa to bring me a Yale Egyptology T-shirt, and he was as enthusiastic about its hieroglyphic lux et veritas as he was about AK-47s and undiscovered alphabets. Watching him range from his wild adventures to his love of mundane minutiae, I found him about as fascinating and inscrutable as the hieroglyphics he studies. Here is a man who deserves his myth.
Thursday, January 10, the curse that strikes down those who violate the pharoah’s tomb arrived in full force:
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Chair John Darnell resigned as chair and agreed to a one-year suspension from the Yale faculty after engaging in several violations of University policy, including maintaining an intimate relationship with a student under his direct supervision, Darnell said in an email sent to the department Tuesday afternoon.
Darnell’s other violations consisted of participating in the review of a faculty member with whom he had an intimate relationship and using his leadership role in Egyptology to cover up his illicit behavior, he wrote in his Tuesday email. Such actions are prohibited by the Yale University Faculty Handbook, which states that professors must avoid sexual relationships with students over whom they have “direct pedagogical or supervisory responsibilities.”
“[I] have violated Yale policies and the trust placed in me as a Yale faculty member,” Darnell wrote. “I have failed the University, my colleagues, and my students, and I am deeply sorry.”
[His assistant Colleen] Manassa declined to comment on allegations concerning her relationship with Darnell, and declined to comment on whether she is facing disciplinary action in connection with Darnell’s suspension.
Two sources with close ties to the NELC Department said Manassa and Darnell met when Manassa took a class taught by Darnell as a freshman in 1998 — the year Darnell joined the Yale faculty as an assistant professor. Manassa told the News she completed the requisite 36 course credits to finish her undergraduate degree in three years.
Manassa went on to enroll as a graduate student in the department in 2001, and was appointed an assistant professor in 2006. Three sources close to the department confirmed that John Darnell was head of the search committee that appointed Manassa to an assistant professorship in the department.
Darnell and his wife — Deborah Darnell, an administrator at the Yale Egyptological Institute — have collaborated on several scholarly works, including journal articles published by the Oriental Institute in 1993 and the Journal of Near Eastern Studies in 1997. According to New Haven court records, the Darnells filed for divorce in 2012.
Backbiting and gossip:
Two sources close to the Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Department said they approached administrators about a “hostile work environment” in the department as early as 2010, two years before John Darnell resigned as chair of the department and was suspended from the faculty on Jan. 8.
Four sources said Darnell and Colleen Manassa ’01 GRD ’05, a former graduate student and current associate professor who is alleged to have maintained an intimate relationship with Darnell since at least 2000, exhibited psychologically damaging behavior toward students and professors in the department in recent years, such as threatening to revoke funding for individual academic projects. Two individuals with close ties to the department said that when they approached senior University administrators with their concerns beginning in 2010, they were told the University could only launch an investigation if the individuals filed formal complaints before the administration.
The sources said they decided not to pursue a formal complaint — which cannot be filed anonymously — because they feared retaliation from Manassa or Darnell, who held administrative leadership positions in the NELC Department and its Egyptology subdivision. One source said the complaint system engenders “a common culture of fear among the grad students.”
And who’s left
When John Darnell agreed to a one-year suspension from the Yale faculty following numerous University policy violations, he left the Egyptology division of the Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Department without a chair and with just one full-time faculty member — associate professor Colleen Manassa ’01 GRD ’05, with whom he allegedly had the intimate relationship that led to his suspension.
Hat tip to John Brewer.
13 Jan 2013
Who could possibly be better qualified than the New York Times’ resident token conservative to teach a college course on Humility? Presumably Mr. Brooks is working on a follow-up seminar for next Fall on Sycophancy and Grovelling.
What I found odd was the “GLBL 345 01” Course Number. I had to look it up, learning for my trouble that GLBL means that the course is being offered in the (ahem!) Yale Department of Global Affairs.
We didn’t have such a department in my day. Back then, aspiring diplomats studied French and took courses on diplomatic history in the History Department.
The Brooks Humility course seems oddly located. It appears to me to constitute a series of discussions of literary expressions of human finitude and immorality. If I’m understanding its topic correctly, I would think the course ought to belong under the English Department.
Specific disciplinary taxonomy, I suppose, scarcely matters today in a world in which essentially any topic which a clever chap can organize into a number of amusing hour and fifty minute talks can be a college course representing a one-tenth part of $50,000-60,000 worth of higher education.
07 Jan 2013
Elizabeth Wurtzel grew up in the New York projects, but got herself a scholarship to private school and went on to graduate from Harvard. She later attended Yale Law School, graduating at age 40, apparently having been admitted on the basis of her writing career, despite atrocious Law Board scores.
Wurtzel had earlier “made a career of her emotions” quite successfully, writing Rock criticism and publishing an autobiographical novel of addiction that became a bestseller and was made into a movie starring Christina Ricci. All that ought to get anybody into Yale Law.
She shared connoisseurship of depression with the late David Foster Wallace and worked for left-wing superlawyer David Boies.
2012 apparently did not go so well for the poor girl, and that bad year prompted her to pen this highly amusing rant about her own “one night stand of life.”
I had found myself vulnerable to the worst of New York City, because at 44 my life was not so different from the way it was at 24. Stubbornly and proudly, emphatically and pathetically, I had refused to grow up, and so I was becoming one of those people who refuses to grow up—one of the city’s Lost Boys. I was still subletting in Greenwich Village, instead of owning in Brooklyn Heights. I had loved everything about Yale Law School—especially the part where I graduated at 40—but I spent my life savings on an abiding interest, which is a lot to invest in curiosity. By never marrying, I ended up never divorcing, but I also failed to accumulate that brocade of civility and padlock of security—kids you do or don’t want, Tiffany silver you never use—that makes life complete. Convention serves a purpose: It gives life meaning, and without it, one is in a constant existential crisis. If you don’t have the imposition of family to remind you of what is at stake, something else will. I was alone in a lonely apartment with only a stalker to show for my accomplishments and my years.
I was amazed to discover that, according to The Atlantic, women still can’t have it all. Bah! Humbug! Women who have it all should try having nothing: I have no husband, no children, no real estate, no stocks, no bonds, no investments, no 401(k), no CDs, no IRAs, no emergency fund—I don’t even have a savings account. It’s not that I have not planned for the future; I have not planned for the present. I do have a royalty account, some decent skills, and, apparently, a lot of human capital. But because of choices I have made, wisely and idiotically, because I had principles or because I was crazy, I have no assets and no family. I have had the same friends since college, although as time has gone on, the daily nature of those relationships has changed, such that it is not daily at all. But then how many lost connections make up a life? There is my best friend from law school, too busy with her toddler; the people with whom I spent New Year’s in a Negril bungalow not so long ago, all lost to me now; every man who was the love of my life, just for today; roommates, officemates, classmates: For everyone who is near, there are others who are far gone.
Please understand: I live specifically, with intent. The intent is, I know now, not at all specific, except that I have no ability to compromise. Most people say that as a statement of principle, but in my case, it is about feeling trapped when I am doing something I don’t like, and it is probably more childish than anything else. I likely do the right things for the wrong reasons. But it has also meant that I have not disciplined myself into the kinds of commitments that make life beyond the wild of youth into a haven of calm. I am proud that I have never so much as kissed a man for any reason besides absolute desire, and I am more pleased that I only write what I feel like and it has been lucrative since I got out of college in 1989. I had the great and unexpected success of Prozac Nation in 1994, and that bought me freedom. And I have spent that freedom carelessly, and with great gratitude. Why would I do anything else? I did not expect, not ever, to be scared to death.
I was born with a mind that is compromised by preternatural unhappiness, and I might have died very young or done very little. Instead, I made a career out of my emotions. And now I am just quarreling with normal. I believe in true love and artistic integrity—the kinds of things that should be mentioned between quotation marks—as absolutely now as I did in ninth grade. But even I know that functional love includes a fair amount of falsity, or no one would get through morning coffee, and integrity is mostly a heroic excuse to avoid the negotiating table. But I can’t let go. I live in the chaos of adolescence, even wearing the same pair of 501s. As time goes by.
Read the whole thing.
Hat tip to Walter Olson (via Facebook).
10 Dec 2012
Bloomberg reports that Ivy League colleges everywhere are taking swift and vigorous action to suppress student misbehavior.
Harvard and Cornell universities have joined Yale University and Dartmouth College in cracking down on out-of-control behavior as drinking, hazing and sexual harassment endanger students and tarnish Ivy League reputations.
Harvard faculty voted last month to require registration of parties and ban drinking games, and Cornell ordered fraternities to have live-in advisers. This fall, Dartmouth began security checks at Greek houses and Princeton University banned freshmen from joining them.
The moves are the latest effort to regulate campus behavior since rules controlling students—known as in loco parentis—were abolished in the 1960s. Disobedience crested last year for Ivy League schools, which cost more than $50,000 a year to attend. A Dartmouth hazing article detailed rituals involving bodily fluids. A Cornell student died of alcohol poisoning, and Yale was hit with a discrimination complaint after fraternity members chanted “No means yes! Yes means anal!”
“Colleges have been in an arms race to prove to students that they’re cool and give more freedom than the others,” said Lisa Wade, head of the sociology department at Occidental College in Los Angeles. “Now, maybe the pendulum is starting to swing the other way.”
College students have come to equate the absence of boundaries with fun, said Wade, who studies the casual sex culture on campuses. That, combined with large amounts of alcohol easily available on campus, can skew students’ sense of what is acceptable or even normal.
There seems to be a tidal pattern about this sort of thing. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, when students were really riotous and disorderly in lifestyle and behavior, university administrators went home and hid under their beds, allowing student mobs to occupy administration buildings and even to shut down Yale a month before examinations and graduation.
Today, when students are meek and mild and cause little trouble, bold, brave deans react to every little contretemps that hits the newspapers the way the German Occupation reacted to the Warsaw Uprising.
05 Dec 2012
It is a common form of modesty on the part of students and alumni of certain Ivy League universities, to intentionally try to avoid the inevitable reaction to dropping a big name in response to the question, “Where did (do) you go to school?” and to reply, slightly evasively, New Haven (or Boston). Sophisticated interlocutors recognize the response at once, and everybody else is really better off not knowing.
But the burden of grandeur apparently weighs heavily on the narrow shoulders of some attendees of a certain school in Cambridge.
Harvard is consequently offering today counseling on how to cope with being so special.
Home from Harvard for the Holidays: Revisiting Relationships with Family and Friends
Wednesday, December 5, 1:00-2:30pm
5 Linden Street
How do I talk about Harvard at home? Will my friends and family think I’ve changed? Will I still fit in? This workshop provides an opportunity to describe and explore your experiences and questions as you anticipate going home. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Acculturated found the therapeutic approach to the Harvard identity pretty funny.
Is Harvard acknowledging that its students, upon being admitted into the hallowed crimson kingdom, become so socially inept that they require workshop assistance to socialize with their non-Harvard friends and family? Or is this event a tacit endorsement of the assumption, which embarrasses Harvard students and alumni so, that they really are better than and different from the rest of us? Either way, the elitism that underlies this event is just hilarious, given its stilted effort to be empathic to what the University probably considers the unanointed hoi polloi.
30 Nov 2012
Try getting university recognition, support, and the use of university facilities for your newly founded alternative conservative newspaper, a film society, or a polo team, and see how far you get. But ask Harvard to recognize a BDSM & kinky sex club, and Harvard’s Committee on Student Life is on board, Man.
As the Crimson reports, things will be better for those a little bit different at Harvard now.
“If you come to campus and you have the sexual interests we represent, you may not even suspect that such a group exists,” Michael said.
Munch is also now allowed to apply for DAPA food grants, making it easier to find a convenient time and location to meet, instead of gathering in small dining halls.
But for Michael, the biggest advantage to being recognized comes with “the fact of legitimacy,” he said. “[Our recognition] shows we are being taken seriously.”
Britain’s Daily Mail described the club’s founding and membership.
The group, which goes by ‘Harvard College Munch,’ first began its meetings in one of the university’s dining halls to discuss personal stories and broader issues related to BDSM and other forms of ‘kinky sex’. ...
Munch’s membership has grown to about 30 members from seven when it began more than a year ago and is one of 15 student organization that will be approved by Harvard’s Committee on Student Life this Friday.
None of the group’s members quoted by the media have been willing to give their full names.
One group member, who goes by ‘Marie,’ told the New York Observer that she enjoys ‘Bondage, handcuffs and ice play.”
‘I’ve been hit with a riding crop, a belt, a paddle, canes, a flogger,’ she said, ‘Floggers are my favorite.’
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