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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Amy Biviano, née Nabors, posed as one of the “Women of the Ivy League” for Playboy in 1995.
Amy Biviano, Democratic candidate for Spokane Valley’s 4th District House of Representatives, has been “outed” for having posed for Playboy magazine’s “Women of the Ivy League” in 1995. She was a student at Yale at the time.
The lucky candidate even attracted coverage by Xbiz Newswire, a porno industry news feed.
Nonetheless, there really is a contemporary Yale Herald article on-line which identifies her as a member of the Class of 1997, so I expect the Alumni Directory has just made some kind of mistake.
Apparently, Ms. Biviano, at the time foresaw the possibility of her Playboy pictures coming to light later in life, and discussed that possibility in the Yale Herald.
Picture this…you are applying for a job for which you know that you’re perfect. It is unthinkable that your experience, your high grades, and your real interest in the company could be disregarded. Yet, as the decision is made, somehow, you are looked over. Why? The answer has nothing to do with your college education and everything to do with your college behavior – you posed for Playboy, and now your job market will be forever limited.
The above scenario is every Yalie’s worst nightmare – being rejected just because of one stupid, rash college prank. You know that you would never make the same mistake twice if you had the chance. Alright, so I did pose for Playboy. Do I feel that one day the above scenario will apply to me? No. You might ask, “Why not?” Do I have career plans that allow for borderline behavior and overlook my indiscretions? Well, originally I did. I had planned to spend my life doing anthropological research on sex; thus, Playboy may have even enhanced my career. But now? Now, among other options, I am considering law, obviously a less-forgiving field.
So why do I still consider posing for Playboy to have been the right move for me? What I have learned this summer in the face of this scandal has taught me more about myself and the others around me than I could ever have learned by sticking to my role as the sweet little girl next door. ...
[D]o I believe that my future might be affected by posing for Playboy? Yes, I believe that it will. But, it has made a positive contribution to my life – I gained a sense of self-reliance which I lacked before the posing scandal. Yes, it was fun to have my five minutes of fame both on the Yale campus and on the national scene. It is a nice little boost to the ego to know that some people consider me to be attractive enough to be in Playboy. But of course I know now, and I knew when I first chose to pose, that these benefits will fade, and they will only be remembered by a few people searching through dusty archives. However, posing for Playboy has permanently changed me by making me think a little bit differently about myself – I’m now more of a risk-taker, fear social approval less, and know a bit more about what I’m capable of. I may never do something this controversial again, but it’s nice to know that I could and did.
Amy Nabors, SM ‘97, is an anthropology major.
Despite the alarmed tone of the liberal news coverage, I think the publicity (and the exposed boobs photo) will do nothing but win admiring 4th district male votes for the candidate.
Dartmouth arrived at its game against Yale on Oct. 6 with a full complement of players, all in uniform, to go with many sets of shoulder pads, several footballs and a coaching staff. The Big Green were ready for an important, potentially season-defining Ivy League game.
Dartmouth brought it all, minus one key on-field component: a kicking tee.
After combing through equipment bag after equipment bag roughly an hour before the start of the game against the Bulldogs, Dartmouth players and coaches realized that someone – and we’re not naming names – forgot to include that one vital piece of kicking paraphernalia.
(I will say this: No one is ever truly responsible for packing the equipment. Or everyone is responsible. You know what I mean. Again, we’re not naming names.)
So the Big Green did what any team would do in such a pickle: Dartmouth asked Yale, a brother Ivy, if it could spare a tee.
At first, the Yale equipment manager lent the Big Green a substitute tee. About fifteen minutes before kickoff, however, Yale head coach Tony Reno came over to Dartmouth’s sideline and said that the Bulldogs wanted their tee back, recounted Dartmouth kicker R.C. Willenbrock.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. You need a kicking tee to, you know, kick off. So the Big Green improvised.
Willenbrock came upon inspiration in the form of a water bottle, one he cut down to size, taped and molded before testing as a makeshift tee. Success!
And Dartmouth deservedly won, after this disgraceful case of bad sportsmanship, 34-14.
Reading this, I profoundly wished I were president of Yale, so I could have fired that coach so fast his head would spin.
No wonder Yale is losing at football. We have a coach who doesn’t even understand why educational institutions like Yale encouraged young men to play competitive games in the first place.
Silliman College has decided to cancel all future Safety Dances after eight hospitalizations followed Saturday’s event.
In a Monday night email to the News following this week’s Silliman Activities and Administrative Committee meeting, Safety Dance organizers Nicole De Santis ’15 and Hannah Fornero ’15 announced that the “risk and liability of the Safety Dance are too great for us to continue having it.” Though new efforts were made at this year’s Safety Dance to help improve student safety, binge drinking and hospital transports still dominated the event. Silliman College Master Judith Kraus said three students were transported from the dance site to Yale-New Haven Hospital, and that another five were transported from several other locations on campus — marking a significant increase from last year’s five students in total. Krauss said that aside from those students transported due to intoxication, many others were excessively intoxicated and engaged in inappropriate behavior.
“There were countless incidents inside the dance, most of them unrepeatable, that can be directly attributed to drunkenness,” Krauss said.
Master K has always been the biggest sourpuss on campus. Just a curmudgeony old witch with a total no fun attitude. This quote blew me away:
““There were countless incidents inside the dance, most of them unrepeatable, that can be directly attributed to drunkenness,” Krauss said.”
It calls to mind Neidermeyer’s line from the disciplinary hearing in Animal House: “And most recently of all, a “Roman Toga Party” was held from which we have received more than two dozen reports of individual acts of perversion SO profound and disgusting that decorum prohibits listing them here”
“...ambulances picked up the other five students from different locations around campus, attributing these cases to excessive pre-gaming.”
As would be expected when you ban or heavily restrict access to alcohol at the event itself. Experience has shown that when access to alcohol is limited, students will simply hide in their rooms and rip shots before mixing up some sauce in a gatorate bottle or flask for the road. They’ll drink it quickly leading to a rapid and dangerous rise in BAC.
This whole thing is ironic given subject matter of the Men Without Hats song from which the dance’s name was derived. It was the band’s response to curmudgeons like Master K who thought the drunken, raucous new wave dance parties of the 80’s were detrimental to society. “We can dance if we want to…” Except at Yale.
13 drunks got carted off to the tank after the major party of the year attended by roughly 2300 undergraduates. Oh, me! oh, my!
In my day, of course, when you got yourself blue, blind, paralytic drunk, nobody came to the rescue with an ambulance. You had your own private session of worshipping the porcelain god, and then you staggered off to bed, doomed to rise eventually to experience the kind of hangover that makes one seriously consider embracing Mormonism.
In those days, Yale residential college masters were all incredibly distinguished, internationally renowned scholars, and representatives of armigerous families whose first American settler had signed the Mayflower Compact. They were worldly men, who had won fame by publishing major studies of prominent canonical subjects like Shakespeare or Dante, or who had written the definitive diplomatic history of the Madison Administration, or who presided over the Yale Library’s cataloguing of the papers of Benjamin Franklin.
They were men of the world, operating at an Olympian level of serenity which could not possibly be disturbed by the petty follies or incidental misbehavior of lowly undergraduates.
The current Master of Silliman College is a professor from the Yale School of Nursing, forsooth! I always thought the existence of a Yale School of Nursing was a quaint anomaly instituted sometime in the Middle Dark Ages to provide a kind of minimal level access to females in the grim pre-coeducation era, probably as a budgetary expedient intended to lower slightly the university dining halls’ budget for saltpeter. We’d probably get more sophisticated residential college governance if the current administration were selecting college masters from the faculties of a Yale School of Taxidermy or the Yale Correspondence College of Beauticians.
Talk about a chilling effect on speech, Yale has made its community downright frigid. We criticized Yale last year for censoring a book with cartoon images of Mohammed in an academic book about those very cartoons, and for quashing its Freshman Class Council’s T-shirt for the annual Harvard-Yale football match because the shirts quoted F. Scott Fitzgerald referring to Harvard students as “sissies.” Yale has kept busy since then. It censored the freshman class again, absurdly refusing to approve this year’s tees unless Harvard approved them, too (see Harvard’s entry). Under pressure from the federal government, Yale also suspended a fraternity for five years after the pledges’ satirical, juvenile, and intentionally offensive outdoor chants about sex were deemed to be “imperiling the integrity and values of the University community.” Yale raised eyebrows when it gave academic justifications for closing down the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism not long after the center came under criticism for holding a conference … about antisemitism. And after a committee recommended ending Yale’s annual Sex Week, the university forced the organizers to change the content of their festivities or else have no Sex Week at all.
Read the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s Yale page, and weep.
FIRE’s President Greg Lukianoff published a repackaged version of the same press release on HuffPo.
The critique of Yale is correct and damaging, except in the case of the final item, the so-called “forcing to organizers of Sex Week at Yale to change its content or have no Sex Week at all.”
FIRE seems to suffer from the characteristic liberal intellectual confusion over free speech.
The use of Yale University’s lecture halls is pretty strictly limited by the administration normally and conventionally. Students cannot borrow a lecture hall, during the hours that it isn’t being used for classes, to operate a business for private profit, to hold an organizational meeting, or to throw a party. If you were to ask, they’d tell you that janitorial services and utilities cost money, and there are security and insurance issues as well. If somebody falls down and bumps his head at your party or meeting, Yale does not want to be sued. Lecture halls are for classes, they would tell you, and you typically cannot borrow them.
Students who want to have some kind of organizational event, like Sex Week at Yale, do not normally get access to major lecture hall facilities. Yale granting that kind of access is a way of subsidizing and lending university support to an event, which could only be expected to happen if the university believed the event being held had some kind of educational purpose or otherwise represented a valuable contribution or worthy cause.
Why the university ever believed that sex toy demonstrations, bondage displays, and lectures by pornographers and porn stars represented any kind of appropriate beneficiary of that kind of access and support is unclear. My guess is that the university was scammed by extremist gender identity groups that it previously had confused with worthy causes.
Limiting access to university facilities conventionally so as to exclude sex technique demonstrations and celebrations of porn is not really limiting free speech, it is really just being more sensible about what kind of speech one treats as significant, it just means discriminating appropriately between substantive speech and porno.
The Vanderbilt Avenue entrance to what used to be a respectable gentleman’s club.
The Yale Club of New York City (Bad idea!) resorted to a membership survey to determine whether the club’s perfectly proper and conventional dress code ought to relaxed.
60% (shudder!) favored relaxing the code, and rather than driving up to New Haven to shoot the people in charge of Yale’s admissions office, the powers that be at the Yale Club reached what our Bolshevik-edited alumni magazine describes as “a Solomonic decision.” (Just imagine what these guys would have said about Chamberlain at Munich!)
In a growing list of work environments and industries, denim has become an accepted and popular addition to sartorial correctness. The Club’s ban on denim in all areas, except the athletic and guest room floors, denies many members the ability to either have a meal or a drink in the Clubhouse. Accordingly, we will now allow denim – neat, clean and in good repair – to be worn on the roof this summer, on the library floor at all times, and in the Grill Room on weekends .
The dress code in the Main Lounge, Tap Room and other areas of the Club will remain business casual.
—————————— Caty Weaver, at Gawker, was deservedly abusive.
In a stunt so preposterous it could only have been dreamed up by a Harvard man, the Yale Club of New York City announced earlier this summer it would permit members to wear the rough twill fabric of Nîmes in select areas of the Clubhouse at certain times.
Yale, which, no offense, is literally a third-rate vocational-technical school that only offers night classes, is frequently ranked among the top universities in the country due to a long-standing clerical error.
At one time it served as a finishing school for America’s elite. In recent decades it has fallen into favor with the kind of people who would be seen in denim out-of-doors on the Sabbath.
Previously, the Yale Club observed a ban on denim in all areas with the exception of athletic and guest room floors. However, recently plain-faced Yalies with calloused hands and backwoods manners had begun grunting about their desire to wear tuxedos of the Canadian variety. To have shirtless wrestling matches in the middle of the club’s fine dining room. To turn cocktail hour into some kind of stockinged feet hootenanny.
Accordingly, the lord of the club, Mr. Yale himself, released a survey to members attempting to gauge how far they were willing to debase themselves.
The results were Fucking. Horrifying.
Over half the respondents reported a desire to wear jeans and probably bikini tops and bedroom slippers that look like cushy oversized sneakers all the time, including in bed and in the shower. Meanwhile, a mere 40 percent of respondents felt it should be legal to shoot and kill a person wearing denim on sight. ...
Thankfully, the non-brothel areas of the Club will remain business-casual.
If Nathan Harden is not working as a symbolist poet, he really needs a haircut.
My wife Karen was wondering what kind of critical reception Nathan Harden’s Sex and God at Yale was receiving.
Well, Gawker responded first, unleashing its most fearsome attack-pansy Hamilton Nolan to sneer and condescend all over it.
If you don’t have a book contract right this minute, you should very ashamed. Consider: Nathan Harden…, a 2009 graduate of Yale, not only got a book contract, but has already written and published his book, and that book is about how bad it is that kids are into sex things at Yale—a topic that a professional book publishing house presumably considered sufficiently interesting to pay Nathan Harden U.S. currency, to write it. ...
Yale has a Sex Week where they have panels that discuss SEX and SEX THINGS with COLLEGE STUDENTS. And… seems like a good topic for an outraged book by a young man, right? Sure, sure. But wait—there’s more:
Harden’s other examples of an institution run amok (an acting class run by a yoga fascist, a Spanish language class in which the professor shows a film with a lesbian sex scene) are revealing but not revealing enough to make one feel that an obsession with sex has turned Yale into a “great institution in decline – an institution of tremendous power and influence that is no longer aware of why it exists or for what purpose,” as Harden claims.
Not just sex discussion panels, but yoga and even very mildly racy films? Thank God someone has published this, in a book. The above paragraph is from a NYT book review, btw. Was your book reviewed in the NYT? No? Hmm.
The New York Times Hanna Rosin pegs Hardin as a rube and a naif, while simultaneously indicating that his book-length indignation is really just a cynical careerist pose.
The conservative movement loves an innocent. Better yet if he has attended an Ivy League college and witnessed the debauchery of the elites firsthand. For this particular position, Nathan Harden, the author of “Sex and God at Yale,” possesses impeccable credentials. He was home-schooled, was already married when he got to college and had worshiped the institution so blindly that he was bound to be disappointed. ...
Harden finds himself much in the same situation as Brad Majors at Dr. Frank N. Furter’s convention in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”; that is, a choirboy type faced with a cast of characters he had not at this point in his squeaky-clean life imagined existed. He sits in on a lecture called “Babeland’s Lip Tricks,” given by a burlesque performer named Darlinda, who leads the students in chanting unprintable words, and then demonstrates with great care and enthusiasm her whole foreplay array of lip, tongue and hand techniques. The fact that Yale lends its name and its classrooms to such a display is too much for Harden to stomach. He sits in the back where a couple of pervy professors are lurking, and watches his dreams die. ...
Drinking the Ivy League poison is, of course, a great conservative tradition, a way for Young Turks to show they could be accepted into the elite even as they choose to set themselves apart.
Newsweek’s Daily Beast (a sort of anti-conservative punditocratic gay bar and home of Andrew Sullivan and David Frum) rustled up a couple of recent grad sophisters to pooh-pooh the significance of Sex Week at Yale (Harden’s central theme).
It doesn’t matter, you see, that the Yale Administration throws open its major lecture halls to sex toy demonstrations, bondage displays, and career talks by pornographers and porn stars. No undergraduates are actually in attendance. Everyone is at class.
Yale students go to class.
You wouldn’t get that impression reading the article by our classmate Nathan Harden. His is a Yale of “sex-toy pageants, porn-star lectures, sadomasochism seminars, and fellatio demonstrations.” Those things did happen, during Sex Week at Yale: a 10-day event held biennially that most students don’t really attend because they have other stuff to do. Like go to class.
And, besides, if anyone were actually there and attending these particular events, it would be an educational exercise in deconstructing their significance. Porn is a major part of every Yale student’s life, and like everything else in the universe, porn must be talked about and studied.
In 2012, however, most Yale students have watched approximately a billion hours of porn by the time they matriculate, from hentai (anime porn) to scat (poopy porn) to crying (porn where people cry). And because porn, we agree with Harden, “isn’t just fantasy, it’s a powerful force shaping our culture,” it needs to be unpacked, just like King Lear, the Illiad (sic), and Moby-Dick.
Sex (in every shape and form) is dignified and legitimated as a topic of interest and study on the basis of its political relevance to the struggle of a major victim group for liberation.
For feminists in particular, sex can’t be a private affair. And indeed, for women throughout history, sex never has been (see Anne Boleyn and her inability to give Henry VIII a son).
That’s because sex is the site of most of the struggles that women face as women: rape, sexual harassment, reproductive rights, the pressure to be impossibly skinny (so people will have sex with you), the pressure not to be too aggressive or loud or ambitious (so people will have sex with you), the pressure not to have too much sex so you’re not a slut, the fact that so many women never have good sex at all (college women have orgasms half as often as men on repeat hookups). ...
Public discussions of sexual culture don’t turn people sexist. They make them less sexist. And Yale gives lots of controversial issues a public airing, and controversial people a podium. ...
This year, a group of Yale students organized a “True Love Week” to run alongside “Sex Week,” with events like “The Person as Gift,” “Chastity and Human Goods,” and a traditional date night. ...
A “Sex Week” and a “True Love Week” vying for classroom space, and students talking and writing and caring about it—that’s a perfect expression of what Yale’s mission is today.
What have you to recommend? I answer at once, Nothing. The whole current of thought and feeling, the whole stream of human affairs, is setting with irresistible force in that direction. The old ways of living, many of which were just as bad in their time as any of our devices are in ours, are breaking down all over Europe, and are floating this way and that like haycocks in a flood. Nor do I see why any wise man should expend much thought or trouble on trying to save their wrecks. The waters are out and no human force can turn them back, but I do not see why as we go with the stream we need sing Hallelujah to the river god.
—FitzJames Stephen, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, 1873.
61 years ago, the young William F. Buckley Jr. launched what would become a splendiferous career as celebrity commentator and public intellectual by publishing not long after his graduation from Yale a scathing critique of his alma mater, titled God and Man at Yale.
God and Man at Yale represented Buckley’s first major effort at “standing athwart history yelling ‘Stop!,’” and we may now read with a certain poignancy the report of Nathan Harden, Sex and God at Yale, compiled at a posting station considerably farther along the road to Hell in a handbasket, demonstrating just how little either History or Yale was listening.
The youthful naysayer of 1951, Buckley, was a classic version of the privileged insider. Buckley was rich, handsome, and stylish, educated at elite preparatory schools in Britain and the United States. At Yale, he was the kind of celebrity undergraduate BMOC that basically ceased to exist after coeducation: Captain of the Debating Team, Chairman of the Daily News, and—of course—member of Skull and Bones.
The contrast between Buckley and Harden could scarcely be more extreme. Nathan Harden was home-schooled, knows what manual labor is like, and grew up in a family that was short of cash living all over the Southern United States. Harden was turned down by Yale initially, attended one of the Claremont Colleges, then got into a one-term visiting student program at Yale, tried transferring and was turned down again, and finally re-applied and was accepted. He was 22 years old and already married by the time he started college in California, so he must have been 24 (and still married) by the time he finally got to Yale as a degree candidate. Harden did his junior year abroad in Rome and, though he speaks with some familiarity of Political Union debates, he clearly never became any kind of BMOC and obviously did not get into Bones.
Nathan Harden came to Yale with the ability to appreciate the richness of her centuries of history and tradition. He speaks openly of the intense pleasure to be found in exploring Yale’s incomparably rich academic offerings served up by some of the greatest living minds while living in the midst of a community of the most spectacularly talented people of one’s own generation sharing the same Arcadian existence. He also understands exactly why Yale is superior to Harvard.
But… like any representative of ordinary America studying at one of America’s most elite universities today, Nathan Harden was also frequently shocked by the estrangement from, and hostility toward, the America he came from of his alma mater, and appalled by the strange gods of Multiculturalism and Political Correctness who have ousted the Congregationalist Jehovah from that ancient university’s temple.
For Nathan Harden, Sex Week at Yale (which we learn from him recently constituted an eleven-day biennial Saturnalia of Smut in which all of the university’s best known lecture halls (!) were turned over to demonstrators of sex toys, porn stars, and dirty film moguls to dispense technical instruction and even career advice to the Yale undergraduate community) serves as a crucial synecdoche for the moral crisis at the heart of American university education generally and particularly at Yale.
Harden argues that “For God, For Country, and For Yale,” Yale’s motto, has become not so much a series of aspirative ends ranked in hierarchical order but rather an accurate historical description of Yale’s own primary locus of value.
Yale was founded as a college, intended to serve God by educating Congregationalist clergymen to fill the pulpits of the Colony of Connecticut. Over time it evolved into a national institution educating an elite group of leaders in business, the military, politics, the arts, and the sciences for the United States. Today Yale is decidedly a hotbed of infidelity to both Christianity and the United States. Secular Progressivism has thoroughly replaced Congregationalism and Christianity, and loyalty to an international elite community of fashion has supplanted any particularist sentiment in favor of the United States. The Yale Administration operates neither to serve God nor Country, but instead directs its efforts entirely toward forwarding its own goals and enhancing its own prestige.
Armed with an almost-unequaled cash endowment and an equally impressive historical legacy and accumulation of multi-generational glory and therefore a concomitant ability to attract talent and additional funding, the Yale Administration is formidably equipped to mold, educate, and inform in any direction it wishes, but as Nathan Harden explains, the problem that is increasingly evident is the practical inability of the University Administration to distinguish good from bad, right from wrong, or up from down in the complex contemporary world of conflicting claims.
Presidents Angell, Seymour, and Griswold would have had no difficulty at all in understanding why the University ought not to lend the principal lecture halls in Linsley-Chittenden, W.L. Harkness, and Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Halls for porn stars to demonstrate sexual techniques or heads of pornography studios to proffer career advice. Richard Levin obviously does not understand why Sex Week at Yale is inappropriate (to say the least), any more than he understands why Yale should not be devoting 10% of its undergraduate places to foreigners, or why Yale should not be renting out its name and reputation to Third World governments.
Harden understands the problem and, though he has very recently graduated, he’d be a lot more qualified to run Yale than the current administration.
Yale… enjoys a strong tradition of educating American political leaders. Over the course of its first two hundred years, as Yale’s spiritual mission faded slowly into the background, a political purpose emerged as a new defining agenda. Serving country became a proxy for serving God. A patriotic purpose replaced a spiritual one. It was assumed for a long time that the interests of America were, by extension, Yale’s interests as well. A large percentage of Yale graduates enrolled in the military immediately following graduation. And, of course, many went on to hold high political office.
The diversity that came to Yale in the sixties was a good thing. Other changes were less positive. In the late 1960s, Yale’s patriotic ethos disintegrated in the face of pressures from the radical new left. The old-guard liberals, who had long governed the university, were replaced by a new, younger set. The old-guard liberals were in the mold of Jack Kennedy—they were New Deal liberals who were sympathetic to religion and proud of their country. They were traditionalists. The new leftists, on the other hand, wanted radical social transformation. They wanted to challenge the old moral assumptions and revolutionize the economic system. Empowered by the backlash against the Vietnam War, and a sanctimonious belief in the justness of their cause, students rose up and violently took over the agenda of the American left. ... About this same time, the patriotic purpose that had defined the university for two hundred years disappeared. The faculty had voted the year before to revoke academic credit for ROTC courses. Later, Yale moved to restrict military recruiters’ access to students. With the destruction of Yale’s patriotic ethos, the last remaining sense of Yale having any higher educational purpose in service of the nation went out the door.
That isn’t to say that Yale ceased being political. But from that point onward, Yale’s political agenda was no longer tied to American interests. In fact, Yale’s political climate came to be defined more and more by anti-Americanism. Economic theories in opposition to free markets became prevalent. Identity politics and interest-group politics began to take over academic life, endangering free speech in the name of cultural sensitivity, and ushering in a new era of suffocating political correctness.
The shift happened quickly. Only a couple of decades before, during World War II, faculty sentiment had been united against America’s enemies in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Now, if the topic of international affairs happened to be raised in the faculty lounge, it had become fashionable to speak of America as the bad guy. Saying nice things about America’s enemies became a mark of intellectual sophistication—of rising above mindless nationalism-Patriotism, like religion, had become a mark of low intelligence, an anachronism. ...
Yale is a place where one can find people expressing almost every imaginable viewpoint and belief system. But here is the unanswerable question: How does a secular university judge between the competing moral claims of its members when those claims breach the private sphere and enter the public realm? ...
Nihilism is, ultimately, where Yale is headed. Yale was built in order to nurture ideas that would elevate the soul and advance human understanding, but it now has no governing moral principle-As a result, the knowledge generated there is divorced from any larger human purpose. Apart from a kind of vague appreciation or certain concepts like tolerance and diversity, Yale is a moral vacuum. Therefore, almost anything goes. Yale is among a dwindling number of institutions that provide a classical liberal education, focusing on the great books of the Western canon—topped off with porn in HD. As I observed, within its walls, images of women being beaten and humiliated for no other reason than the pleasure and profit of others, I became aware that I was witnessing much more than the decline of a great university. I was witnessing nothing less than a prophetic vision of America’s descent into an abyss of moral aimlessness, at the hands of those now charged with educating its future leaders.