College Masters, Edward Harkness, Harvard, Orwellian Language Purges, Political Correctness, Racial Politics, Ressentiment, Yale
The Oldest College Daily happily reports that Yale is currently well along in the process of following the examples set by Harvard and Princeton in eliminating the title of Master for the heads of undergraduate residential colleges or houses.
Apparently, a majority of current students have gradually fallen into line in support of the demands of the radical lunatic fringe that the title be changed. In their wake, hastening to come on board, can be found the actual adults making up both the Yale Administration and the Yale Corporation.
A small racially-obsessed group of leftists, quite recently, decided that 150 years after the elimination of Slavery in the United States, it must be actively painful and humiliating for students-of-color to have occasion to address a head of college as “Master.” The memories and associations, you see, are just too painful. (sob!)
At Yale, the nonsense started last year, when the current Master of Pierson College, a hyper-sensitive creep named Stephen Davis found his new title unacceptable, and sent a letter to the college urging students to eschew tradition and address him merely as “Dr.” or “Professor” Davis.
One has to bear in mind that the title of Master has nothing whatsoever to do with Antebellum Slavery. It has everything to do with Anglophilic tradition and Pretension.
19th century Yale students were members of a single college (Yale College) or (if banausic) of the Sheffield Scientific School. The poor lived off-campus in rented hovels, the better-off in rooms in college residential buildings called “halls,” then much resembling architecturally orphanages or reformatories.
Where the Master business came from was via the philanthropy of Edward Harkness, a member of the Class of 1897. Harkness was the scion of a Standard Oil fortune. He had money like God has money, and cheerfully volunteered to pay for the transformation of both Harvard and Yale into residential colleges, i.e., fantasy imitations of the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, designed at Yale by his classmate James Gamble Rogers. Yale’s student body was divided among ten (later twelve) residential college and its grim Victorian architecture was augmented by a new campus of whimsical Tudor and Georgian design.
The heads of Yale residential colleges and Harvard houses were called “Masters” in pure imitation of the practice of the majority of Oxbridge Colleges. Master, in this case, is a purely academical title, an anglicized version of the Latin “Magister.” It has no connection to Slavery. Nor does it imply domination of anything. A College Master at Yale has traditionally been a distinguished senior faculty member who lives in a mansion associated with a residential college and who functions essentially as that college’s master of ceremonies. The College Master is formally administrative head of the college, but he has a Dean and a bunch of secretaries and student aids to do all the shit work. The Master smiles at students, presides over functions, throws parties, and thinks up new, nice things he can do for the benefit of the undergraduates in his college.
There would be no opportunity for this particular politically correct grand gesture today, of course, had the presidents of Yale and Harvard in the early 1930s possessed crystal balls. They would then have foreseen all this, and taken care to call heads of residential colleges (or houses) “Rector” instead (as is the practice at Exeter College, Oxford and King’s College, Cambridge) or “Warden” (All Souls College, Oxford and Robinson College, Cambridge). Upon reflection, though, having to address the head of one’s housing unit as “Warden” could very possibly also have become a major issue for contemporary Ivy League students-of-color.