Category Archive 'Yale Daily News'

02 Oct 2019

How Entitled Are Today’s Yale Undergraduates? This Entitled

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Josh Diaz is Class of ’20, Morse College.

Yale junior Josh Diaz sees no reason he ought to have to work a bursary job as a student at Yale, while other students from wealthy families, whose parents are paying $72,100 this year, do not.

I was hired to work events such as Mellon Forums and College Teas, events that Yale is proud to offer to its students. I feel both trapped and embarrassed working these events. I came here to be a student. Instead, after class, I slip into my loose khakis, worn-out dress shoes and black polo to go to work as my suitemate takes an afternoon nap. As the events begin, I stand on shift while my peers indulge in cheese, dessert and insightful conversation. After the event is over and everyone leaves, I stay to clean up after the students and guests and make sure the Head of College’s house is ready for the next event. By the time I get to the library to begin studying, my peers are finishing up and going to bed.

What strikes me most is the indignity of the divide: who gets to be a student and who has to work. As it turns out, getting into Yale was not enough to escape where people believe I belong: working. As a non-white, working-class Latino man, Yale expects me to work. And moreover, the money I make goes right back to the university. I work to make the magic happen for my peers.
This year, I frantically moved all my stuff into my room early to get back to work — preparing for the first years to arrive. All my days were focused on fun for the first years: move-in, first-year reception and other camp Yale activities. At the end, I was overwhelmed, overworked and under-appreciated.

I have grown incredibly close to my friends at Yale and love the communities that surround me. However, the student income contribution still divides us.

As classes begin, I know that this divide is already beginning to take place. Those who are on financial aid will have to work. Those who are on financial aid will have to pay. Until Yale eliminates the Student Income Contribution, students on financial aid will continue to feel disrespected, unsupported and unwelcome at Yale. That’s how I feel.

RTWT

Mr. Diaz’s attitude would, of course have been absolutely inconceivable to members of earlier classes at Yale. Students from humble backgrounds fortunate enough to have been admitted to this elite college in earlier (and better) days thanked their lucky stars at having been given the priceless opportunity to move upward in the world and were only too happy to work hard to earn it.

I make a practice of reading lots of old novels and memoirs offering accounts of undergraduate life at Yale in different eras. Mr. Diaz would be appalled, I can tell you, to learn what real inequality was like in the 19th Century. Poor boys worked regular jobs and lived in miserable hovels in the New Haven slums, eating the cheapest food and often skipping meals, to get through Yale. People without family money had little opportunity to partake of the pleasures of student life, and poor students were certainly not treated as equals by the rich.

I was recruited to attend Yale by an alumni representative from the Class of 1926. He was a wealthy and successful executive, but he had come to Yale the son of a poor Presbyterian clergyman from New Jersey. He absolutely needed to work his own way through Yale. That meant not just earning a small “student contribution,” but earning the money to pay for his tuition and for his room and board somewhere.

He would have dearly loved, he once confessed to me, to have won a letter on the Yale Football Team, but he simply did not have time off for football practice. He had to work. He somehow managed to win a letter finally in LaCrosse, which apparently involved a much smaller time commitment. He also did not have time for singing groups and he had no money to join fraternities or clubs like Mory’s. He was tapped by no Senior Society. But he did not feel in the least wronged. He was grateful to Yale and devoted to her service all his life. If he were alive to read Mr. Diaz’s editorial, I expect that he would be simply astonished at that gentleman’s perspective and depressed at the changes in values and education that are responsible.

And, oh yes, I had bursary jobs myself. I can remember, for instance, having to get out of bed before dawn to go make toast in Commons. I also bused trays, and loaded the dishwasher. I used to wear a necktie under my white coat and I’d make a point of appropriating a carnation or rose from one of the vases on the tables for a boutonnière. I decidedly approved of the bursary job system, and I liked the feeling of doing my bit to pay for being at Yale. I didn’t like getting out of bed early, and I definitely disliked burning my fingers handling hot toast, but I took pride in doing the right thing. Unlike Mr. Diaz, I was quite conscious of the enormous favor Yale was doing me, and I was very much aware that lots of others had had to work before I ever came along.

19 Sep 2019

Snowflakes Melting Again at Yale

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Laurie Santos, new “Head” of Silliman College, famed for teaching an extremely popular course on Happiness.

The Yale Daily News reports that a Yale junior’s Instagram quip has the campus again in a turmoil over Free Speech, with many students demanding punishment, Silliman Head Laurie Santos promising action and then crawfishing, Peter Salovey timidly defending Free Speech, and faculty arguing.

All this ICE but no detention centers in sight,” read the caption, beneath an Instagram photo of a Yale junior smiling amid a backdrop of snowy mountains.

Was the gaffe a distasteful joke or an affront to undocumented immigrants? Yale administrators and faculty disagreed. Screenshots of the post — a play on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and ice itself — quickly went viral on social media. Students denounced the junior for joking about the plight of undocumented immigrants, who sometimes spend weeks and months in border detention facilities. Tweets criticizing the post received thousands of likes and more than 900 retweets. One student said he is “glad to see that Yale is still prepping for the future generations of Kavanaughs.” Others urged their peers to email the head of the junior’s residential college, psychology professor Laurie Santos and demanded consequences for the junior. …

As emails requesting the student to be held accountable for his Instagram post inundated Santos’ inbox, the Silliman Head of College responded to at least one student’s call for action against the junior.

“I have now heard about this incident from many, many students,” Santos wrote in the email, which was obtained by the News. “I’m upset that a member of my community would post something like this and I will take action on it. I will be bringing this up with the proper channels.”

While some students said they appreciated Santos’ note, many members of the University community voiced concerns about the email’s implications on whether administrators and faculty members have the jurisdiction to regulate students’ speech.

English professor David Bromwich said the idea that the junior “should somehow be punished, or cited to justify a reprimand, seems a clear overreach of authority.”

“[Of] course the result [of Santos’ email] would be to chill speech generally,” Bromwich said. “People say silly things like this all the time, on campus and in everyday life elsewhere. Will you install microphones in the potted plants and try to catch them all?”

In an interview with the News, Chairman of the Institute for Free Speech Bradley Smith said Santos’ email is “absurd and anti-liberal.” The email sends a message that students now have to be extra careful to not upset others and “gives a license to social justice warriors to pick on students they don’t like,” Smith said. He added that free speech is not only about a lack of censorship, but also about an open attitude of accepting controversial ideas.

In an email to the News on Wednesday, Santos said in hindsight, she “would have worded things differently to make it clearer that what I wanted to do was gather more information — that was the action I had in mind.” …

Salovey did not comment on whether he had spoken with Santos about her handling of the matter.

“I would like to take this opportunity to underscore that Yale is committed firmly to free expression,” Salovey said. “To learn, to create knowledge, to teach and to improve the world, we must engage in the exchange of ideas freely, especially when we disagree with one another. I have always encouraged members of the Yale community to participate in open discussions because the answer to speech that offends us is, most often, our own speech.” …

Thomas Kadri GRD ’23 — who is a fellow at the Yale Information Society Project — added that while people should have the right to speak freely, free speech does not mean that people cannot criticize others if they dislike what is said.

“That said, it might also be worrying if many students ‘fear’ the ‘consequences’ of expressing their ideas and opinions,” Kadri added. “Quite how worrying it is would depend on a few things, I think. Are their fears reasonable? What do they actually fear will happen — criticism, social ostracism, bad grades on assignments, worse job prospects?”

American Studies professor Matt Jacobson said that while the University may have some work to do, feeling uncomfortable is “emphatically not a ‘free speech’ issue of the constitutional sort.” Self-censorship is different from government censorship, and is in some cases “an organic response to the contending interests and the internalized dissonance brought about by social change and societal polarization,” Jacobson said.

He added that even if the climate issues on campus are very real and need to be addressed, it is important to recognize that there is a concerted effort on the right to use free speech as an instrument to advance a particular agenda, such as framing discrimination of ethnic, religious and racial minorities as freedom of expression.

RTWT

10 Sep 2019

Yale Today: New Issue of Humor Magazine Again Triggers Snowflakes

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How could they ever publish THIS in New Haven?

Back in the ’60s and ’70s, my own generation’s taste in humor ran to the transgressive and outrageous. We liked nothing better than violating all existing limits on expression and every conventional stricture of decorum.

Now, it seems that Cotton Mather’s generation has been reincarnated into the college students of today. With the Fall Semester opening at Yale, out comes a new issue of Rumpus, the current student humor magazine, and all over the Yale campus, the snowflakes are melting.

Goodness gracious! Mercy me! Somebody had the crudeness and insensitivity to joke about the possibility of girls getting hammered and led astray at a particular fraternity called “Leo.”

Evidently only last year an issue of Rumpus came out featuring Hookup Bingo,” some joking about campus Hookup/Blackout culture. There was outrage. At least a dozen Rumpus staff members walked out in protest, Rumpus was denounced and condemned from every pulpit on the campus, and the issue was actually officially retracted! I haven’t seen it reported, but I assume that a number of Rumpus editors spent a few days in the stocks.

Now, what do you know? Rumpus has sinned again, triggering the deacons of the Yale Daily News and all the rest of the campus elect. Lots of chin-stroking and grovelling and apologizing ensued.

Following a year of non-publication after staff backlash over jokes about sexual misconduct, the Yale Rumpus has returned — but not without controversy.

The annual Freshman Issue of the student-run tabloid magazine hit dining halls on Friday morning, greeting students with a cover that read, “ATTENTION FIRST-YEARS: YOU WILL BE REJECTED.” The issue — the first to come out since last September — was produced by a new editorial team. But despite the new staff — which includes five members who actively worked on the issue and about 12 total staffers, compared to previous staff sizes of 30 or 40, according to Rumpus co-editor-in-chief and a former photo staffer for the News Jakub Madej ’20 — the new tabloid issue has already sparked discontent among many Yalies upset with its new content. Students were particularly angered by jokes about the K2 overdoses on the New Haven Green and a “Rump’s Review” of Leo, which they believe made light of sexual misconduct once again.

“The Leo joke was not intended to make fun of rape victims in any way, shape or form,” current Rumpus Co-Editor-in-Chief Anushka Walia ’21 wrote in an email to the News. “It pointed out messed up practices of frats, and it put Leo down. Part of the point of satire is this kind of commentary anyways. I’m sorry if it offended anyone, but it wasn’t the intent.”

Last September, at least 12 staffers quit the publication in protest over several jokes about sexual assault that appeared in the Rumpus’ “Freshman Issue.” Those included a spot on the issue’s “Hookup Bingo” reading “Freshman’s First Blackout (Free)” and a line in the editor’s note making fun of a blacked out first year “let[ting] a senior on the baseball team raw [them] on that foul mattress in the Sig Nu basement.”

The objectionable content in last September’s issue had been reviewed only by members of the editorial team prior to publication, but not the remainder of Rumpus staffers. Following internal backlash, Rumpus leadership retracted the issue, removed all copies of it from dining halls throughout campus and issued an apology for the content.

According to Madej and Walia, this year’s publication — which the current board revived independent of the old editorial staff — was for the most part vetted by board members as well as several staffers prior to printing, unlike in previous years. Also unlike Rumpus leadership’s response to last September’s backlash, this year, Madej and Walia neither retracted the issue nor issued a public apology for the content.

Although Madej said the Rumpus has not established any written standards for the kinds of jokes it will publish, the editors review content on a case-by-case basis to decide if it is fit to print.

“There were some issues last year regarding controversial issues and mismanagement,” Madej said. “We noticed what happened last year, and we believe in the idea of Rumpus, no matter what they say. We do want to bring it back to life.”

Still, social media posts from Yalies this weekend argued that the publication’s “Rump’s Review” of Leo showed that Rumpus had not learned its lesson from last year’s backlash. …

Hours after the issue hit dining halls, the Instagram parody account @yaleactualweeklynews posted a picture of the review with the headline “Rumpus Learns From Mistakes; Only Publishes Subtle Rape Jokes.”

In a statement to the News, Leo leadership called “the Rumpus’s attempt to make humor out of sexual misconduct extremely misguided and disappointing.”

“We take the issue very seriously and work actively to make sure our friends and guests feel safe and have fun at our events,” the statement read.

During a Friday night interview with the News, Madej said the post from the @yaleactualweeklynews Instagram page was “nothing more” to him “than a kindergarten-level attempt to make jokes” and bring up problems from last year, adding that he did not see a connection between last year’s controversy and this year’s issue.

But Walia disagreed with Madej’s statement. In emails to the News following the interview, she stressed that she did not interpret the post as an attempt at humor, but rather as a way “to bring an important issue to light.” She explained that she did not expect the criticisms the post sparked, because she cares “very deeply about the very issues everyone else cares about” as both a woman and a feminist herself. Further, Walia underscored that the Rumpus’ intent is never to be offensive or malicious, and that she respects “people’s beliefs as well as their criticism.”

“I do care about the criticism received because I want everyone to read the Rumpus and have a good time and laugh at it,” Walia said. “I don’t want anyone to feel offended or hurt by something that someone writes in it. So as editor in chief, I do take concerns seriously and keep that in mind — I care a lot about our readers.”

Madej clarified in an email to the News on Sunday that he was not “sure of the intentions” of @yaleactualweeklynews, but “if they indeed wanted to be funny, it’d be a tremendously bad level of a joke.”

Former Rumpus staffer Leila Halley-Wright ’21 — who quit the publication in protest of last year’s jokes about sexual assault — said she was “surprised” to see that the Leo review had been “deemed appropriate” for the issue considering last year’s backlash and its thematic similarity to last year’s editor’s notes.

Mia Arias Tsang ’21, the editor in chief of Broad Recognition, said she was upset to find a screenshot of one of her posts advertising the feminist magazine featured in a collage on the front cover. She stressed that the cover upset her because of the publication’s past of making light of sexual misconduct issues, and she was disappointed to see several similar problems arise in the new issue.

“Satire, I think, is very different from rape jokes,” Tsang said. “I think there’s ways you can tackle these issues satirically, but it has to be done really well and really carefully, and you should probably have some people look at it multiple times that are outside of the sphere of your tabloid magazine if you’re trying to go for a satire angle. … I think the stuff they do satirizing Yale culture has always been pretty on the nose and good, but they’ve just veered so far into this other territory for some reason.”

RTWT


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