Richard Brodhead, President of Duke—“Lauren” aka “Belle Knox”, freshman pornstar
Emmeline Zhao, at Real Clear Education, interviewed “Lauren”, Duke’s Republican freshman pornstar about her preferred way of working her way through college and Duke tuition costs.
How did it cross your mind to get into adult films?
I’ve always really liked watching porn. I started watching porn when I was maybe 11, and it was something I was always very ashamed about, but I really enjoyed watching it. So when I got to college and was faced with all these financial burdens, I was literally sitting in my room one night, and I didn’t know how I was going to pay for all this, and half joking said to my roommate, “Well f—- it, I’ll just be a porn star.” And so we kind of laughed, but then I half-heartedly applied and sent my picture to a bunch of porn agencies. I didn’t expect anything to come of it, but then I started getting callbacks from people saying they saw a lot of potential.
And when I started learning about just how much porn stars make, I realized I could graduate from school free of debt and do something I really love doing without having to bust my ass doing minimum wage jobs that wouldn’t get me anywhere. I knew that with my skills—I don’t yet have a college degree—I knew that all I could get was a minimum wage service job. It didn’t seem economically feasible to me. I didn’t want to struggle in school while working, and it wouldn’t pay my bills. So I just jumped into it, into porn, and really loved it.
What about financial aid? Did you apply for any grants or scholarships?
I have siblings in college, who are being supported by my parents, and my parents are paying $1,000 a month just for their own student loans and my dad graduated 20 years ago. One of my parents is recently unemployed. I was offered $13,000 in financial aid. That wasn’t enough—that’s $47,000 still unaccounted for.
People have this perception that if you cannot pay for college, financial aid will take care of you, and that perception is wrong. If you are very low income, you can get a full ride to Duke, no problem. If you are middle or upper-middle class, you will get screwed in the process. So many middle class students have not gotten sufficient financial aid because on paper, their families look like they have money. Just because I’m not poor doesn’t mean I can afford $60,000 a year for college. Other students from middle and upper-middle class families have said the same thing.
When you look at the state of education in America, middle class students are left out, even harmed, by the financial aid process, not helped by it. People need to come to an understanding about that. Financial aid offices should look at their policies and how they help their students.
What about options for student loans? Government loans would have at least deferred payments for a little while after graduation, interest-free.
I wasn’t offered any government loans—my only other option was private loans at 12 percent interest rates and I knew that by the time I graduated college, I’d have hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. I have seen other members of my family graduate college decades ago still dealing with debt now and I knew it’d give me less mobility. It would also hurt me if I needed to get something like a credit card—- hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt is not something I want to carry around and it’s absolutely ridiculous that that’s what the state of our nation is, that that’s an expectation.
I have a friend who comes from a low-income family and pays $500 a year for Duke, and when I talk to him about my problems with financial aid, he doesn’t understand. It’s such a problem to be caught in the middle with financial aid, and people just don’t understand.
I think it’s very poignant that nowadays if you’re middle class, the only way to pay for college is to take out hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans. We need to provide a better financial future for our students. I shouldn’t have to go broke, I shouldn’t have to go into debt at 18 years old to pay for an education.
So why Duke, of all places? Why didn’t you choose a less costly institution?
I was offered scholarships at a lot of places. I was offered full tuition at Vanderbilt, for example, and was accepted into USC, Wellesley, Barnard, Pepperdine, some others. But I visited Duke last year on Blue Devil Days [Duke’s programmed weekend for admitted freshmen], and I remember walking into the Duke Chapel—I’m a very spiritual person—and just feeling an energy that told me, “This is the place you need to be.” And I felt something in the chapel in that moment that told me that I needed to be here and go to Duke and it was something that would be an amazing experience for me.
Would you still do porn if Duke cost less?
No. If Duke had given me sufficient financial aid, if they had given me the proper resources and made college affordable for my family, I would not have done porn. I would’ve just gotten through college and been fine. The financial burden that Duke put on me was absolutely enormous and insurmountable with the resources that I had. ...
Why do you say porn is less demeaning than a service job?
Go to the mall and talk to somebody who works at a hot dog stand and ask them about their job. They go to work at 9 a.m., work until 6 p.m., maybe get two five-minute breaks in the day, make $6.25 an hour before taxes, and they’re on their feet all day. They’re working in conditions that are physically and mentally draining. So they’re making maybe $100 a day before taxes for doing 9 hours of hard physical work. You look at that and look at what I’m doing, making $1,000 for two hours doing what I really love doing, which for me is not degrading and is something I feel safe in, you tell me which industry is demeaning?
People say the porn industry is demeaning, but being in a service industry is degrading in and of itself. You’re basically being stepped on. Any job I would’ve gotten as a minimum wage worker would’ve been exploitative, degrading to me, and not provided the money I needed to make, which was $4,000 month. So why would I work 80 hours a week, struggle with school, barely get any sleep and be treated like a second class citizen, when I can do porn for 14 hours a day , make thousands, set my own hours, and have a ton of fun doing it?
Reading this piece, I wondered how Richard Brodhead, president of Duke can sleep at night.
If I were president of an elite university and read in the paper that the combination of my school’s tuition costs and financial aid policies had driven a female freshman to become a sex worker in order to pay her tuition bills, I’d be tossing and turning all night as I thought about what I needed to do about it.
Yes, it is true that young college students do not always have good judgement, and some of them will inevitably make bad choices. But I cannot imagine how the chief executive of a university with such a student could avoid feeling a sense of personal responsibility for the state of affairs in which tuition cost have risen to such a point and where student loans commonly create such a crushing burden that one young woman would make such a choice. The president of that particular university ought to feel that his own policies and administration have, ultimately, turned him into the equivalent of a pimp.
I think that Richard Brodhead when he got up the next morning, after reading the news stories, ought to have summoned “Lauren” to his office as the first thing. He should have talked to her like a Dutch uncle, and explained to her that she had made a serious mistake, one which she would inevitably later profoundly regret, and told her that much of it was his own fault. He should urge to relinquish her part-time cinematic career, and in return offer her full tuition assistance.
He should then arrange a meeting with his financial officers and senior administrators to initiate steps to cut excess spending, reduce numbers of superfluous administrators and staff, and to cut tuition costs drastically while increasing grants of aid to middle-class students.
If Richard Brodhead does not feel personally obligated to do all that, I’d say that he ought to buy a big floppy hat with a feather, a flashy purple suit, and start driving an enormous Cadillac.
Let me get this straight… Ivygate reports that two Yale students complained of being “sexually assaulted” while attending a BDSM Party. What did they think those riding crops were for?
Last week, Yale students received two university-wide Clery Act emails informing them that two Yale students were victims of “sexual assault by an acquaintance, who is also a Yale student” at the Sigma Phi Epsilon house on February 8th. February 8th was the night of the annual “Dom” party thrown by the Women in Power Society (WIPS), a secret society, which was held in the SigEp house.
The “Dom” party is an infamous, no-cellphones-allowed event. From what we hear, people dress up in BDSM gear and porn is projected on the walls as hot freshmen guys pass around drinks. Interestingly, it’s also generalized as one of the safer party SigEp hosts: there is a closed guest list with doors closing at 11 pm and everyone (besides those hot freshmen boys) is over 21-years-old.
For two assaults to happen on a night that typically gets by without major public notice is surprising–but only considering its history of safety. Dom is a party full of porn, S&M, and lots of alcohol, after all.
Yale Police Department Chief Ronnell Higgins reported the two statements in separate emails to the University community on Feb. 19 and Feb. 21. The messages stated that the alleged assaults occurred at the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house, and the second email corrected the first by reporting that they were both said to have taken place on Feb. 8.
“I write to let [the University community] know that the Yale Police received an anonymous report today that a second Yale student was the victim of a sexual assault by an acquaintance, who is also a Yale student,” Higgins said in the Feb. 21 email.
On Feb. 22, President of the Yale Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter Andrew Goble ’15 issued a statement saying the fraternity allowed another student group to lease a room in its house for a private event on Feb. 8. The statement said the event was open to guests of that organization, which remained unnamed.
“The members of Yale’s SigEp chapter were shocked and saddened to hear allegations that sexual assault may have occurred in our facility on an evening when the chapter had leased event space to another campus organization,” Goble said in the statement. “At this time, SigEp does not believe that the allegations are against members of their chapter.” ...
On the same night of Feb. 8, a private party in connection with the Women in Power Society (WIPS) senior society, took place at the SigEp fraternity house. Nine students interviewed said that party had a “dominatrix” theme. Several attendees declined to provide additional details about the annual party.
The WIPS said in a statement to the News, “We are not commenting out of respect for the privacy of the individuals involved in this situation.”
A student who attended the party and spoke on the condition of anonymity said the WIPS’ mission is to promote female empowerment.
Sandra Y.L. Korn, no liberal she, (who is already contributing to the Nation, as an undergraduate at Harvard) editorialized recently in the Harvard Crimson against academic freedom.
[T]he liberal obsession with “academic freedom” seems a bit misplaced to me. After all, no one ever has “full freedom” in research and publication. Which research proposals receive funding and what papers are accepted for publication are always contingent on political priorities. The words used to articulate a research question can have implications for its outcome. No academic question is ever “free” from political realities. If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of “academic freedom”?
Instead, I would like to propose a more rigorous standard: one of “academic justice.” When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue.
The power to enforce academic justice comes from students, faculty, and workers organizing together to make our universities look as we want them to do.
Robert George ‘77 and Cornel West’s [appearance] on Monday, hosted by the Institute for the Liberal Arts, culminated a campus-wide discussion on the meaning of discourse at Swarthmore. The Princeton professors, known for their friendship despite of their strongly opposing viewpoints, intended to build community and discuss questions like “What does it mean to communicate across differences regarding what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong?’”
The event was expected by many to be controversial, with rumors of student-led protest in the form of a boycott of the event or a rally after the collection, but no such protest occurred during the collection. Prior to the event, many students voiced concerns with the College’s choice of speaker in George, who is known for his strong opposition to abortion, stem cell research, and gay marriage. Some queer students attended the event wearing shirts that read “Beneath Human Dignity,” a reference to a George quote in National Review magazine about the New York gay marriage decision in June 2011. Students also created a zine which opposed tolerance of George’s viewpoints, stating that by doing so, we would be “condoning homophobia.”
After the talk, many students expressed dissatisfaction with the event, saying it did not accomplish any meaningful community-building or address substantive issues.
“What really bothered me is, the whole idea is that at a liberal arts college, we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion. I don’t think we should be tolerating [George’s] conservative views because that dominant culture embeds these deep inequalities in our society. We should not be conceding to the dominant culture by saying that the so-called “progressive left” is marginalizing the conservative,” Erin Ching ‘16 said.
Really old people like myself can remember the radical left’s adroit use of the so-called Free Speech Movement at Berkeley in the early 1960s. Allowing outside agitators representing the extreme left to recruit, propagandize, and proselytize on campus was, way back then, a vital issue of “free speech.”
Now, fifty years and a Gramscian long march later, the radical left effectively controls all our elite universities and the discussion of whether there is any real value in free speech, academic freedom, or diversity of opinion is now on the table.
Mark Edmundson (who teaches English at UVA) has a very amusing, slightly rueful memoir in the Chronicle of Higher Education recalling his youthful animosity to tweeds, Bones, the American reactionary establishment and his enthusiastic embrace of the theoretical tools of deconstruction as a means of sticking it to the Man.
You couldn’t see Skull and Bones from the seminar room in Linsly-Chittenden Hall, though it was directly across the street. But the building was much on my mind the afternoon of the reception and had been from the day I got to New Haven. To my 26-year-old self, it seemed nearly impossible that literature—Keats, Shelley, Shakespeare, Whitman—was sharing space with Skull and Bones. I did not know much about Bones, but I took it to be a bastion of reactionary America. The society reached out its withered hand to tap future Wall Street pirates, CIA agents, and the sort of State Department operatives who had leveraged us into Vietnam, where a number of my high-school buddies had gone to be maimed and worse.
At least the Skull and Bones building looked its part. They called it the Crypt—and it did look like it was designed by Edgar Allan Poe. It was all stone and metal, with no real windows, and doors of enormous weight. Those doors must have closed with the grimmest finality, though never in my five New Haven years did I see them open or shut.
The Crypt was a monument to the dark. It looked like the temple of a demon—Moloch or Beelzebub—one of the devils we discussed in our Milton seminar in the elegantly decomposing room of the Munchkin party.
One day I saw that the Crypt’s front door and the wall next to it were blotched with red: the red of the anarchist flag, the red of rage and retribution. Someone had taken a couple of cans of yowling crimson paint and thrown them at the facade of Skull and Bones. I loved it. Perhaps that night people would mass in front of the building, carrying rakes, scythes, and wrenches. A strike force would arrive armed with five-pound sledgehammers and the requisite silver stakes to take care of the nightwalkers inside.
All right, I got a little carried away. I knew that wasn’t really going to happen. But something might. The university and the community were finally showing distaste for the monument to plutocracy and (why not say it?) death.
This was not what I associated with American education. I’d come from Bennington College, a small liberal-arts school in Vermont, where people worshiped Martha Graham and poetry. After I graduated, I taught at the Woodstock school, a Bennington for high-school students. Woodstock was about playing music and smoking weed, writing spontaneous bop poetry and reading Marx and Kerouac. When they completed the curriculum, the kids applied to college, and things being what they were in America circa 1977, they tended to get in—though not to Yale.
I’d been deluded. I thought that university education entailed reading Whitman during the week and listening to the Grateful Dead on weekends. (“I never cared about money,” the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd once wrote. “It was not what Country Joe and the Fish taught me to value.”) It seemed that here at Yale, education might be about William Howard Taft and Averill Harriman, all the time. I knew that Yale was renowned for Wall Street connections; I knew that it sent recruits to the CIA; but I thought—what did I think? I thought that the English department, in conjunction with the spirits of Emerson and Whitman, would be at war with what was dark and outdated about Yale. I thought that the English department would win, hands down. But there was the Crypt across the street, and no one was doing anything about it. No one even talked about it.
Then I discovered the opposition at Yale—or at least I thought I did. When I arrived, I was devoted to literature straight out, and my goal was to become learned enough to pass my affection on to students. That was about it. (Though I also liked the hours that professors were rumored to work—I was an expert at engaging in prolonged bouts of doing nothing.) “What we have loved,” Wordsworth says to his friend Coleridge in The Prelude, “others will love, and we will teach them how.” I could teach others how to love Whitman and Ginsberg and be paid for it, if only a pittance. Sign me up.
To my 26-year-old self, it seemed nearly impossible that literature—Keats, Shelley, Shakespeare, Whitman—was sharing space with Skull and Bones.
But the stuff that had the aura of subversion about it wasn’t literature, it was theory. Maybe that was the true alternative to Bonesmanship. After a while, I dropped any illusions I might have had about running the Bones gang out of town. Still, there had to be some kind of alternative culture to Bones culture, to succor the grad students and maybe even save an undergraduate or two from being swallowed alive by Moloch. Maybe theory was 1968 by other means.
Jameson, Hartman, Bloom, Derrida, de Man: All seemed rebellious, and all were right here at Yale.
The odious Yale Administration recently responded to the technological progress which transferred the printed-on-paper Course Critique (which my colleagues and I on the Yale Daily News first produced in the Fall of 1967) to a more flexible searchable electronic version on the Internet to tyrannically exercise the university’s power as webhost to censor and shut it down.
One has to shake one’s head over the fact that Yale continues to manage to hire and put power into the hands of people who are both so inclined to misuse power and simultaneously so lame. Dean Dodo who made the decision to take that website down obviously had only the dimmest reptilian understanding of the possibilities of technology and the enterprise and skill of the Yale undergraduate.
In January 2012, two Yale students named Harry Yu and Peter Xu built a replacement to Yale’s official course selection website. They it called YBB+ (Yale Bluebook Plus), a “plus” version of the Yale-owned site, called Yale Bluebook. YBB+ offered different functionality from the official site, allowing students to sort courses by average rating and workload. The official Yale Bluebook, rather, showed a visual graph of the distribution of student ratings as well as a list of written student reviews. YBB+ offered a more lightweight user interface and facilitated easier comparison of course statistics. Students loved it. A significant portion of the student body started using it.
Fast-forward two years. Last Friday (1/10/14), Yale blocked YBB+’s IP address on the school network without warning. When contacted, Yale said that YBB+ infringed upon Yale’s trademark. Harry and Peter quickly removed the Yale name from the site, rebranded it as CourseTable and relaunched. Yale blocked the website again, declaring the website to be malicious activity.
Later that weekend, Yale’s administration told the student developers that the school didn’t approve of the use of its course evaluation data, saying that their website “let students see the averaged evaluations far too easily”. Harry and Peter were told to remove the feature from the CourseTable website or else they would be referred to the school’s punishment committee. ...
What if someone made a piece of software that displays Yale’s course evaluation data in a way that Yale disapproves of, while also (1) not infringing on Yale’s copyrights or trademarks, (2) not storing any sensitive data, (3) not scraping or collecting Yale’s data, and (4) not causing damages to Yale’s network or servers? If Yale censors this piece of software or punishes the software developer, it would clearly characterize Yale as an institution where having authority over students trumps freedom of speech.
Guess what? I made it last night.
I built a Chrome Extension called Banned Bluebook. It modifies the Chrome browser to add CourseTable’s functionality to Yale’s official course selection website, showing the course’s average rating and workload next to each search result. It also allows students to sort these courses by rating and workload. This is the original site, and this is the site with Banned Bluebook enabled (this demo uses randomly generated rating values).
Banned Bluebook never stores data on any servers. It never talks to any non-Yale servers. Moreover, since my software is smarter at caching data locally than the official Yale course website, I expect that students using this extension will consume less bandwidth over time than students without it. Don’t believe me? You can read the source code. No data ever leaves Yale’s control. Trademarks, copyright infringement, and data security are non-issues. It’s 100% kosher.
My intent behind Banned Bluebook is to demonstrate two points to Dean Miller and the Yale administration:
If Yale grants students access to data, the university does not have the right to specify exactly how students must view the data.
Censorship through IP blocking and Deep Packet Inspection is not only unethical, it’s also futile.
Don’t the Nazi tools they hire to run Yale even go to the cinema? If Dean Wurmser has seen Josh Wheedon’s “Serenity” (2005), he or she would have heard the line from Mr. Universe: You can’t stop the signal, Mal.
Some years ago, one broilingly hot July day, I was in New Haven going to the air-conditioned Sterling Memorial Library to do some research for a writing project.
Beside the front entrance steps, a colored Yale maintenance staff employee was working in the hot sun, perspiration pouring down his face, chipping out the aged mortar from between sandstone blocks in preparation for re-pointing them. It was a nasty job, picking out the old cement using a small sledgehammer and a cold chisel, and it was an exponentially nastier job when performed in 100+ degree weather under a bright sun.
As I approached, I couldn’t help noticing that the entire crowd of typically left-wing, conspicuously socially conscious liberals passing directly past the maintenance guy were utterly oblivious to his predicament and to his very existence. He might as well have been a potted plant or a steel trashcan standing beside the library’s elaborate oaken doors for all the attention he was receiving.
I also could not help but perceive that that workman was aware of how thoroughly he was being ignored (and implicitly despised). He was doing a man’s work, a difficult, painstaking, and unpleasant job under extraordinarily adverse conditions. Being only human, he naturally desired some kind of fraternal sympathy from his fellow man, and some recognition that he was doing an unusually tough job under unusually bad conditions. It was impossible not to see that finding himself invisible, divided from the dozens of fellow representatives of humanity passing with a few feet of him by barriers of class as obdurate and inflexible as the stones he was working on, was bitterly alienating and insulting. He was holding himself with an air of resentment, and I could see him muttering angrily to himself under his breath.
So I deliberately slowed, and paused next to him, and said: “It is sure a hot day to be doing that kind of work!” “Sho’ is,” he responded smiling happily and taking a moment to pull out his handkerchief and wipe his face. “Damn hot.” I nodded in the direction of the passing faculty and students. “Some people don’t know what a day’s work is like.” I said, and he laughed appreciatively.
It only took a few seconds, but I’d managed to give him the sense of human solidarity he obviously needed, while reassuring him that at least one passerby recognized the nature and cost of his personal contribution to physical survival of the University.
Anthony Esolen, who teaches English at Providence College, is also the kind of guy who has doubtless worked with his hands, and who is therefore capable of perceiving the yawning chasm between professoriate and the proletariat, between the people in America who actually work up a sweat and the members of the community of fashion elite who call all the shots.
We professors at Providence College have for two years now been working in the midst of invisible men, men… who in these times are almost as insane and as morally blinkered as the professors they serve. The men have built a large and handsome Center for the Humanities, out of brick and stone. They have had to transform a hill and a parking lot to get the project started. They have turned an old field into a new facility for soccer, field hockey, and track, complete with bleachers and a press house, and eighty foot tall lights for events at night. They have laid hundreds of yards of concrete pathways. They have cleared out a useless hill thicketed with scrub trees and made it into a decorative border for the campus. They have built temporary parking lots and torn them out again and replaced them with sod. They have dug out stumps and planted trees. They have worked with jackhammers, drills, chisels, backhoes, saws, scaffolding, trowels, wheelbarrows, sledges, and the indispensable hands, arms, legs, shoulders, and back. They have done all this while remaining as quiet and unobtrusive as they could be.
They work hard, at work that takes its toll on their bodies, in all seasons and in all but the filthiest weather. Yet I doubt that the feminist professor – and most professors are feminist – gives them a passing thought. Without men like them, we would have nothing; nothing to eat, no metal for our cars, no bricks, no stone, no wooden planks, no houses, no roads, no public buildings, no clean running water, nothing. They do work that is more than desirable. It is absolutely necessary. I teach English poetry; that is not necessary. I will not trouble to discuss sociology, feminist or otherwise.
We might be apt to shrug and say, “What of it? They are well paid,” and some of them are. Some of them are not, but then, don’t college graduates deserve to make more money than workers on the land, of the land, and under the land? And they do have the vote, don’t they? Everyone gets one vote, and that makes everyone equal.
Well, no, it doesn’t, no more than if everyone enjoyed the privilege of spitting once into a national spittoon. We are looking for equality as men, so that we can say what Mr. Morgan said. And the common laborers enjoy no such thing. They have virtually no influence over what their children are taught in school, and how. Their sons are regularly badgered for being boys, and bullied into ingesting drugs to conform their boyish natures to the ideal of mannerly servility. They are not pillars of their communities, because there are no more communities; there are political abstractions called “towns” and “cities,” whose leaders take their cultural instructions from the media and from the national government, and who themselves are less and less likely to have grease under their fingernails or freckles of carbon in their faces. They are not the masters in their own homes; the effeminate vices peddled by their “betters” have seen to that. They are likely to have fathered children out of wedlock, or to have been divorced, sometimes with good cause, far more often without. They ingest the poisons peddled by mass entertainment. Their sons surf the internet for porn, get fat, wear their pants around their thighs so as to look like dwarfs stretched on a rack, can’t dig a post-hole or sing a hymn, and are given comic books in school instead of Moby-Dick. Our need for these fathers is total, yet their authority is minuscule even in their own localities, and their influence upon national politics is zero.
If such men ever took it into their heads to strike, not against the owner of the coal mine, but against their masters in the media, the classrooms, the board rooms, the state capitols, and Washington, who knows what might happen? We might have a republic again. But I’m not holding my breath. A John Dickinson, mild-tempered though he was, would be at a loss for words to fathom the depth of our servility, both moral and political. What, after all, were a couple of pence on a bag of tea, compared with thousands of unread pages managing every facet of medical treatment for three hundred million people? Slaves do sometimes rise up. Pampered slaves, never.
The New York Times ponders the life and personality of the on-leave assistant English prof, who recently was arrested as the result of a connubial spat and who then proceeded to die in police custody.
Faculty members and students at Yale University, where he was an admired assistant professor of English, were shaken and openly mourned the abrupt, inexplicable conclusion to his life. Investigations are now examining the circumstances of his death, to see if he had been ill or injured and determine whether the authorities bore any blame. He was 34.
In the weeks that have passed, equally puzzling questions have arisen about just who Mr. See was and how many lives he led.
Was he a hip, beloved college professor enmeshed in discord with the man he had recently married? Was he someone battling crippling health and emotional problems? Or was he a gay hustler, brazenly posting explicit pictures of himself on male escort websites in pursuit of sexual encounters?
From the incomplete pieces that have thus far emerged, it seems he was all of those things.
My research and teaching focus primarily on British and American modernist literature and sexuality studies. I’m currently interested in the questions that aesthetic and sexual feeling present for literary historiography. My first book project explores how British and American modernist writers co-opt the evolutionary precepts of degeneration theory to depict queer feeling as natural: material but nonetheless subject to change. My next book project will examine how British and American writers throughout the twentieth century use aesthetics like the mythical method and magic realism to create queer mythologies that depict the construction of transhistorical and transnational queer communities.
Now that’s what Yale really needed: a specialist in Degeneration, teaching the subject with a positive spin.
[S]eeking someone to attend Harvard University for four years in another’s stead. The poster offers $40,000 a year, plus a $10,000 bonus after graduation. The ad, which appeared under Writing Gigs in Pittsburg’s Craigslist has some high-level requirements: The chosen “student” must have a 4.0 GPA in high school or a 3.5 GPA in a university, must be male and must pass all tests once attending Harvard.
Apart from the disgrace, and having to breathe the air of Boston, this wouldn’t be such a bad gig. I wonder if one’s major would be prescribed, and do you get a bonus if you achieve election to a good final club?
One of those armored vehicles (with unmanned machine-gun turret) can be seen sitting just outside the campus.
Around 9:30 A.M. this morning, an anonymous caller phoned New Haven Police warning them that his roommate was going to Yale to shoot people. There have been reports of a man being sighted carrying a long gun. Yale is on Thanksgiving break. Most people are not on campus. And police have swarmed the area between Chapel & Elm and High and College Streets.
The Oldest College Daily recently advised the Yale community of a potential downside to the use of free University-provided email addresses.
Yale students’ email accounts are subject to search without consent or notification by the University, as outlined in a publicly available but little-publicized document.
Under the University’s Information Technology Acceptable Use Policy, the University maintains the right to access not only employee accounts, but students’ accounts as well. While 55 of 73 students interviewed were unsurprised that the University can monitor their correspondences, few were clear on the specifics under which Yale can search their accounts.
Only three students of 73 interviewed were aware of the specifics of Yale’s policy, with one adding that he learned about the University’s regulations through a class.
“I feel like the University should make clear under what circumstances they consider searching emails,” Sherry Du ’17 said. “The school should do more to publicize this.”
Most students said they were not taken aback by the policy because the email account is provided by Yale.
Graduate students who came to Yale after working in the corporate world expressed especially little surprise over the policy. Ashlee Tran SOM ’14 said employees at large corporations assume their emails are monitored.
“It doesn’t shock me at all that they can do that,” Acer Xu ’17 said. “It’s Yale email, it’s an internal server.”
According to its Acceptable Use Policy, several circumstances warrant access to students’ emails: “preserv[ing] the integrity of the IT systems,” complying with “federal, state, or local law or administrative rules,” carrying out “essential business functions of the University,” “preserv[ing] public health and safety” and producing evidence when “there are reasonable grounds to believe that a violation of law or a significant breach of University policy may have taken place.”
Administrators did not define what actions constitute a significant breach of University policy, though ITS Director of Strategic Communications Susan West described these circumstances as “specific and unusual.”
For the University to access a student account, two administrators must give their approval: University Provost Benjamin Polak as well as the dean of Yale College or the appropriate graduate or professional school, though deans are allowed to delegate this task.
However, in situations where “emergency access is necessary to preserve the integrity of facilities or to preserve public health and safety,” systems administrators may access an account without approval.
No explicit mention is made in the Undergraduate Regulations of the University’s right to access student accounts, though the Appropriate Use Policy is accessible through a link on page 128 of the 131-page document.
“Preserv[ing] the integrity of the IT systems,” complying with “federal, state, or local law or administrative rules,” carrying out “essential business functions of the University,” “preserv[ing] public health and safety” and producing evidence when “there are reasonable grounds to believe that a violation of law or a significant breach of University policy may have taken place.”
Some people evidently believed that you could concede domination of the culture of a great university to the radical left and retain liberal values like free inquiry and free speech. They were obviously sadly mistaken.
Quite understandably, faculty try to instill in their students the same attitudes that enabled them to succeed. Unfortunately, those qualities are often counterproductive for any life outside of academia. But in order to fully grasp why this fact is so important, you have to understand a little bit about how careers are made and lost in academia.
Success as a faculty member requires one thing above all else: a good reputation in your field. During the tenure and promotion process, perhaps the most crucial step will be when your department solicits letters of reference from well-known senior faculty in your chosen specialty. They will review your research output and write a candid assessment of your work. Bad letters from these faculty will destroy your chances of being awarded tenure. And because tenure is an “up-or-out” system, failing to receive tenure means that you’re fired. Furthermore, in this economy, it usually means that your career is over, too.
The very worst thing that can happen is for your letter-writers to be unfamiliar with your work. Accordingly, savvy junior faculty members will direct their research to a very specific sub-specialty so that they increase their chances of becoming known within a particular group of senior researchers. That way, even though the junior faculty member won’t know who’s being solicited for letters during their tenure review, they can be reasonably certain that their work will be known to the right people. Because it’s so time-consuming to conduct research and submit papers and books for publication (it often takes well over a year for a paper to be published in a good journal, for example), a junior faculty member can’t afford to waste any time or effort. It’s almost suicidal to write a series of papers on different topics, even if those papers are very high-quality. Instead, it’s a far better strategy to try to achieve a “critical mass” of research output in a small, narrowly-focused area. Research areas, types of output (papers, presentations, books, grant proposals, etc), venues, and everything else are selected to maximize the probability that the right people will learn about one’s work. The math is terrible—rejection rates for top journals in my field, for example, are way above 90%, and this is quite typical. With a six-year window between being hired and beginning the tenure process, it can easily take a year to get one’s research off the ground. Between the end of any particular research work and publication (assuming it’s accepted for publication), there can easily be a year or more. This is why it’s so important to relentlessly focus on a narrow specialty; there is no time to waste.
Of course, it’s possible that after being awarded tenure, a faculty member might broaden her horizons and pursue a variety of different intellectual pursuits. This would be in keeping with one major purpose of tenure—to enable an established researcher to set her own research agenda without fear of losing her job. To be sure, this does happen. But in my experience at least, it’s very rare. The reason why it’s so rare is pretty simple: the tenure process filters out the people who would be most likely to pursue diverse intellectual interests. Having survived college, graduate school, and the tenure track, it’s very likely that whoever is left standing is the sort of person who fits comfortably into the existing structure. Someone who is prone to pursuing a diverse set of interests or (worse yet) interdisciplinary research will run a much larger risk of losing her job during the tenure review process. And of course, even if you started out with a lot of intellectual interests, the sheer habit of limiting yourself to the narrow range of acceptable work can change you over the course of a decade.
In this way, faculty are like columnists for major newspapers. Columnists for, say, the New York Times are perfectly free to write whatever they like (within appropriate professional guidelines, of course). But the range of opinion expressed in those columns is terribly narrow. The problem is not that the Times is exerting pressure on its columnists. The problem is that in order to be a columnist for the New York Times to begin with, you have to be the kind of person whose opinions already fall within a specific range. The same goes for faculty. Universities are generally pretty good about not exerting overt pressure on faculty and their research. Intellectual freedom is generally respected. But the university doesn’t need to exert any pressure, because it’s already filtered out the people who would need to be pressured. Those who survive are, for the most part, narrow specialists who care little about what’s happening outside their own area of specialization.
The same is true of faculty opinions about the university itself. With a six year pre-tenure filtering process, those who are granted the freedom to change the way their courses are run, try something new, or (gasp!) criticize the university have largely been eliminated. Those who remain are perfectly free to teach, conduct research, or express themselves however they like. But the people who would actually take advantage of that privilege are gone.
43 Hillhouse Avenue, built for Henry Farnum by architect Russell Sturgis in 1871. Victorian features were removed in 1934. It has been the home of Yale’s presidents since 1937.
If the US Department of Defense ever finds itself falling short on its spending goals, if it ever can’t find enough $750 toilet seats and $450 claw hammers to buy, DOD procurement specialists can just call up the geniuses running Yale University and ask them to lend a hand with some building or renovation project.
Building the truly verdant green Kroon Hall, erected as a kind of Taj Mahal shrine to environmentalism that cleans its own water with aquatic plants, cost only $501 a square foot. In the recent renovation, including fixing plaster, installing a “state of the art” security system, changing over from steam-heat to hot water, and generally tidying up, the stately mansion on Hillhouse Avenue in New Haven, once called “the most beautiful street in America” by Charles Dickens, provided for the use of the university’s president, Yale managed to spend $810 a square foot, a total of $17,000,000!
If we assume that Yale tuition and room and board is running something like 60 grand per annum these days, that means Yale could have given 283 and 1/3 students, more than half the population of one of Yale’s 12 residential colleges, a free year of college for what all this cost. The mind boggles.