A Yale alumn I know from Silliman (I was in Berkeley myself) passes along an email:
Excerpt below from actual email I received from actual grown-up in an important position at a once-prestigious Ivy League university (“HoC Santos,” who is the new don’t-call-it-Master of Silliman). Am I just old and out of it, or is it fundamentally undignified for someone in that sort of role to adopt the tone of a perky 19-year-old sorority social-events chair at some perfectly-okay state university somewhere out in flyover country?
“Our first ever Sing-Along will take you back to the days of flannel clothing, huge scrunchies and boy bands. It will be the ultimate celebration of all things â€˜90s! From the Britney to Backstreet Boys, with plenty of Alanis and Nirvana mixed in, this is how we Sillimanders do it, even as we smell like teen spirit cuz we’re livinâ€™ la vida loca.
8-9:30pm in Silliflicks. Word to your mutha.”
There was no email, not even any PCs, back when I was an undergraduate at Yale. In those days, all Yale Residential College Masters were middle-aged White Anglo-Saxon Protestant males and distinguished scholars. In Silliman’s case, the Master was one Elias Clark, a law professor with a background which included Yale and Andover and WWII military service.
Somehow, I cannot really picture Master Clark sending out to the Silliman Salamanders of my day a mimeograph announcement of a college shindig celebrating the music and pop stars of the 1950s couched in the Beatnik vernacular of Maynard G. Krebs. Still less, his screwing up and inadvertently forwarding such a missive to graduated alumni.
Professor Santos may very likely have been specifically chosen to make the Snowflakes of Color of Silliman College feel safer from improper Halloween costuming and more comfortable and at home there, which we all learned last year is the most essential function of the heads of Yale residential colleges.
Former Associate Masters Nicholas and Erika Christakis fell afoul of diverse student sensivities, when La Christakis responded to an admonitory Intercultural Affairs Council email edict warning students sternly against such Halloween transgressions as wearing blackface, sombreros, or turbans with a skeptical email of her own wondering aloud about the propriety and necessity of such politically correct pronunciamentos.
In response to Erika Christakis’s chin-stroking email, students went absolutely wild. Nicholas Christakis was confronted, shouted down, told he was not doing his job properly, and urged to resign. An African-American dean was similarly mobbed and lectured on his responsibility to be on the side of his own people. There were marches, one of which occurred at Midnight and featured the delivery of some pretty outrageous demands to the timid Yale President Peter Salovey at his house on Hillhouse Avenue.
The Yale Administration announced that it was firmly behind the free speech rights of the Christakises, which announcement was followed by Erika’s rapid departure in under a month, immediately thereafter by husband Nicholas’s departure on sabbatical, and finally (surprise! surprise!) by the announcement of his resignation during the summer. Yale was ever so solidly behind them. Adieu! Christakises and Adieu! the title of Master itself.
President Salovey previously announced that Yale would pay $50 million in Danegeld for more privileged-victim-group faculty recruitment and development (aka remedial education) and whatever else our contemporary Danes might desire. Yale’s concessions and surrenders will be continuing.