Category Archive 'Yale'
15 Oct 2019

Harold Bloom, 11 July 1930 — 14 October 2019

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Harold Bloom, Yale Sterling Professor of English, author of 40 books, and defender of the Western canon died yesterday at age 89.

Some Twitter comments on his death:

Michael Kimmerman:

Armed with a photographic memory, Professor Bloom could recite acres of poetry by heart — by his account, the whole of Shakespeare, Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” all of William Blake, the Hebraic Bible and Edmund Spenser’s monumental “The Fairie Queen.”

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Alexandra Brodsky:

Never speak ill of the dead, like Harold Bloom, who told my American lit seminar that we should feel free to report his sexism and homophobia to the university president who, Bloom explained, would rather hide under his desk than fire him.

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Anne Applebaum:

Harold Bloom was once asked why he was writing a multi-volume history of literary theory. “I can’t sleep anyway,” he said.

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In 1999, Emmy Chang of the Yale Free Press interviewed Professor Bloom, and got a good sample of Bloom talk.

YFP. In the Shakespeare book you mention that since Shakespeare, we’ve taken more after Iago than Othello’we’ve learned more from Iago. And I wanted to ask you if you thought that was Shakespeare’s fault or if it was our fault.

HB. That question’s unanswerable because we have been so formed by Shakespeare. That I think is the irony of [the Tenure Action Coalition]’the words they use are frequently words that he invented, that weren’t in the language until he coined them. I think that it was Owen Barfield who said that it can be positively humiliating for us to realize that what we want to call our emotions, turn out to be Shakespeare’s thoughts. Shakespeare is the Canon because Shakespeare is ourselves, and the answer therefore to the question of, Is the way in which we’ve imitated Iago our fault or Shakespeare’s fault, is both. I’m not sure that until you have the representation you call Hamlet, that you have anywhere, (in any language I’m able to read anyway), someone who changes every time he or she speaks, and who does it by this weird thing of overhearing oneself, which I can’t find before Shakespeare. But if you’re really going to talk about Shakespeare’s culpability’so far as I can tell, Shakespeare invented what Nietzsche, and Dostoevsky, and others afterwards started to call nihilism. It’s a pure Shakespearean invention.

YFP. [I wondered] whether you think the people who say that Shakespeare has nothing to say to them’whether it’s just a question of their being unwilling to listen, or if it’s actually possible that they can’t hear.

HB. Let me tell you an anecdote. As part of the early manifestation of [the Cornell Revolution of ‘68-‘69], the black students of the university were instructed by their leadership to go into the library stacks and bring out as many books as they could carry and just dump them on the front circulation desk with the dramatic statement, ‘These books are irrelevant to me as a black student.’ And it so happened [that] I was trying to check out a book at just that moment, when a young lady dumped a huge armful of books right next to me and shouted, ‘These books are irrelevant to me as a black student.’ And one slid over to me’it was the Oxford edition of the Collected Poems of John Keats. And I said to the young lady, who scowled at me, ‘Are you quite sure that the poetry of John Keats is irrelevant to you? Have you read any of the poems of Keats?’ And she looked at me angrily and repeated, ‘These books are irrelevant to me as a black student,’ and off she marched. So. But what can I possibly say to that? That’s ideological, isn’t it? To arrive here and say that it’s your function to obliterate the best that has been read, the best that has been thought and said, in thirty centuries. They should go somewhere else. If they really think Shakespeare is irrelevant to them, why do they want to go to a university anyway? To get a union card of some kind?

YFP. You said before that we read to learn to talk to ourselves.

HB. I am not, as you know, a Shakespeare scholar, just an enthusiast…I assume that reading Shakespeare with the whole intensity of your being and with your awakened mind, with all of you, it’s bound to be a kind of training in consciousness. I assume that that is as good a way of awakening that [inner] spark, of lighting it up, or of making that pneuma, that breath, come faster, and stronger, than any other. [It] doesn’t necessarily make you a better person, [but it] certainly [makes] you a more capacious soul than you were already. I really feel that I can teach a more or less receptive and sensitive Yale undergraduate how enormous a work Shakespeare’s Hamlet is… You can teach people’you can open them to wonder. To more wonder. Which is what Shakespeare is for. I talked [in Shakespeare] about awe as being the proper response. Maybe the really proper response is wonder.

HT: John Brewer.

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.

27 Sep 2019

Yale Political Union’s Liberal Party Changes Its Name and Flees Union Over Insensitive Free Speech Policies

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The Yale Political Union in 1973. I was there.

The YPU’s Liberal Party (dating back to the Union’s founding in 1934, which had McGeorge Bundy, Dick Posner, John Kerry, and Jorge Dominguez for Chairmen) has recently (in a fit of honesty) changed its name to the “Socialist Party,” and its current chairman announced today that it’s quitting the Yale Political Union because the Yale Political Union (O! God! O! God!) allows members of the Party of the Right to say flaming un-PC things, and has no mechanism to punish WrongSpeech.

Chairman Ian Moreau explains why the lefties are seceeding:

The debate over the Union’s usefulness has long been rumbling within our Party. For years now, the Union’s debate format has rendered the meaningful development of political beliefs nearly impossible. The quality of student speeches varies wildly and a few unfocused questions at the end of each speech limits direct engagement with a speaker’s arguments. The ideas that members espouse, however, can be even worse. Just last year, members of the Union stood behind a podium to spew blatant transphobia and question whether women should have the right to vote, all without reprimand. In September 2017, the Party of the Right released a whip sheet in which they referred to Indigenous people as savages. Not a single individual was formally censured.

Such incidents have unfortunately become commonplace within the Union and have wrought significant damage on our Party. Members of marginalized communities — the people who are crucial to building an authentic Left — don’t wish to sit through the needless denigration of their identities nor should they be required to in order to participate in spaces like ours. We have watched as the constant debasement of low-income people, people of color, women and queer folks has led both members and potential recruits to distance themselves from Union and therefore from us. Although our Party has made our concerns explicit and sought reform innumerable times, the structure of the Union itself has made it resistant to change. To be clear, this is not an issue with the current Union leadership; the problem is institutional, not personal.

By leaving the Yale Political Union, we hope to revitalize our Party and construct a better leftist space for future generations of Yale students. We will welcome the people we need to create the networks necessary for thoughtful activism and solidarity-building. We will cultivate a stronger sense of love and community amongst ourselves in order to ensure that our friendships last long after we leave this university. And, perhaps most importantly, we will think, interrogate and theorize as we fight for a better Yale.

We will no longer settle for the detached debate that defines the Yale Political Union. The political nature of our university, of our world, demands to be squarely grappled with. It is not enough to question the Canon, debate the research or criticize the corporation, for intellectual engagement alone will not suffice. Real leftism is bold and unyielding in its battle for greater justice for all people. As conscious inhabitants of this Ivory Tower, we are obligated not only to envision a brighter future, but also to take part in its creation.

RTWT

Being Leftist today means that you cannot “meaningfully develop your own political beliefs” in an atmosphere that exposes them to different beliefs.

26 Sep 2019

Yale’s Pierson College Asks Students to Return College China

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The old heraldic Berkeley College plate.

Yale Daily News:

According to a Sept. 18 email sent to all Pierson students by the Pierson College Office, the residential college’s dining hall has lost over 80 percent of its mugs since the start of the semester. The number of bowls has dipped from 72 to 20 in the same amount of time, the email states.

“Please return them asap,” the email added. “Srsly.”

A collection bin outside of the dining hall has collected some wayward china, as have those in Ezra Stiles and Morse, among other colleges. Still, according to Yale Dining Communications Director Melissa Roberts, the losses are part of a “truly [astounding]” upward trend in replacement numbers over the past two years.

Yale Dining replaced 5,076 bowls between September 2018 and August 2019, along with 4,080 mugs and 12,744 forks. For the prior academic year, Yale Dining replaced just 3,828 bowls, 3,336 mugs and 11,488 forks — marking an increase of 1,248 bowls, 744 mugs and 1,256 forks over the last year — Roberts wrote in an email to the News.

Since the “ideal supply number” across campus totals 9,000 of each piece — bowls, plates, mugs, tumblers, forks, knives and teaspoons — the branch of Yale Hospitality has been forced to restore over half of its supply of dishware every year, which can get pricey.

“While replacements are due to breakage, chipping and utensils accidentally (and with frequency!) ending up in the trash, the majority of missing items are more likely taken by students,” Roberts said.

While Yale Dining policy requires students to leave their identification cards behind when taking dishware outside of the halls, this is “very loosely enforced,” Roberts wrote. She said her team does not currently have a major initiative to stop theft.

In the data that Roberts provided to the News, some replacement rates have declined in the past two years. Hundreds fewer knives, teaspoons and soup spoons were lost in the 2018–19 academic year compared to the year prior.

Still, these utensils have suffered the same fate as other Yale Dining dishware. Roberts’ team replaced over half of its ideal quota for silverware in both years.

Roberts told the News that the missing dishware isn’t surprising — especially when student housing and dining halls are so close together.

And even though Rahshemah Wise ’22 has never stolen dishes, she understands how it happens.

“I feel like it’s not intentional,” Wise said. “It’s a lot easier to just keep them than to bring them back.”

Roberts added that the biannual dorm room inspections conducted by Yale Facilities — which occur before winter break and towards the end of the academic year — contribute to recovery efforts.

“It’s to be expected [that] a mug of coffee or bowl of cereal will be carried away and just end up where it was last used and perhaps stay there,” Roberts wrote. “That doesn’t make it okay, I’m just speaking to the logic of that particular scenario!”

Losses were more prevalent when each residential college had its own crested plates. They became “hot collector’s items,” she wrote, and have since been dedicated for special events like first-year and senior dinners. After the unique dishware phased out over eight years ago, Yale Hospitality decided to switch to generic china.

While the change was helpful, she wrote, “it hasn’t stemmed the ‘gone missing’ issue entirely.”

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

29 Aug 2019

New Book on the Crisis at the Universities by Former Dean of Yale Law School

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Power-line’s Steve Hayward has an important new book recommendation.

This week’s mail brought me Anthony Kronman’s new book, The Assault on American Excellence, which begins with a chronicle of the follies of Yale University, where Kronman teaches and once served as dean of Yale Law. … I got to meet Prof. Kronman at a terrific colloquium about Max Weber last year at UCLA, where he told me some about his new book, which arose out of his rising disgust with identity politics and what it is doing to higher education. In one sentence, it is bringing “higher education” quite low.

Kronman is significant because, like Columbia’s Mark Lilla, he considers himself to be a liberal/progressive in his general political views. As such, he represents perhaps a last gasp of an older liberalism what was generally liberal. And sure enough, like Mark Lilla, Kronman has drawn some early attacks for the book, such as this disgraceful review in the Washington Post by Wesleyan University president Michael Roth, who I thought might be part of the resistance to the nihilism of identity politics, but turns out instead now to be a fraud.

I suspect Kronman is going to get a frosty reception in the Yale faculty lounges and faculty meetings. But all hope is not lost. Last summer we reported on the campaign of journalist Jamie Kirchick to be elected as the Alumni Fellow to the board of the Yale Corporation, with the intentions of trying to argue at the board level about Yale’s moral and intellectual dereliction. To be a candidate in the board election requires a lot of Yale alumni signatures within a short window of time, and Kirchick’s drive fell short.

This year Nicholas Quinn Rosencranz, a Yale Law grad and currently professor of law at Georgetown, is running an insurgent campaign. (The Rosencranz family has been very generous to Yale over the years; there’s a building named for them.) See this statement of the Alumni for Excellence at Yale about the myriad reasons for his candidacy, but most important, if you are a Yale alum (undergraduate or graduate school), scroll to the bottom and click on the button to sign Nick’s petition to be put on the board ballot. He needs to get 4,266 alumni signatures by October 1, at which point a full-fledged campaign can begin to win the alumni vote.

25 Aug 2019

The American College Dormitory

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My own college dormitory, one of “James Gamble Rogers’ sublime Yale residential colleges.”

Anthony Paletta reviews a recent book on college dormitories in America.

Hotels have received plenty of architectural attention, but unless you’re Howard Hughes or Coco Chanel you probably haven’t spent four years living in them. One space where most readers have likely spent just that long in residence–and that hasn’t attracted a fraction of that kind of attention—is the old-fashioned college dormitory, now ably addressed in Carla Yanni’s Living on Campus: An Architectural History of the American Dormitory.

The dormitory is an interesting space, intrinsically transient but often designed to serve as a social aggregator, edifying home environment and cocoon from baleful influences, once loose morals and religious nonconformists, lately Halloween costumes and Republicans. It’s a building type represented virtually everywhere in the United States—Yanni notes early on that there are likely more than thirty thousand dormitory buildings in the U.S.

The first unusual thing about American dormitories is simply how widespread they are. You don’t actually need to house students on-site: this happens for a very small minority of students in secondary and boarding schools, and a minority in graduate education. Living on campus is not remotely as common in a number of other societies, and wasn’t the standard even in some European societies that provided inspiration to American universities. A prime task is to explain “why Americans have believed for so long that college students should live in purpose-built structures that we now take for granted: dormitories. This was never inevitable, nor was it even necessary.”

The religious and often rural origins of many American colleges, designed to remove students from the malignant influences of the city, played a prominent role in the provision of housing. She quotes Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Fanshawe and its fictional Harley College—“The local situation of the college, so far secluded from the sight and sound of the busy world, is peculiarly favorable to the moral, if not the literary, habits of its students; and this advantage probably caused the founders to overlook the inconveniences that were inseparably connected with it.”

RTWT

I’ll bet the Yanni book overlooks the story of the Yale undergraduate of the 1850s who was expelled for shooting a deer on the New Haven Green from his dormitory window on the Old Campus.

07 Aug 2019

The Real Problem With America’s Elite

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Natalia Dashan brilliantly explains why the Radical Left is winning at elite schools like Yale and everywhere else in the National Establishment.

Western elites are not comfortable with their place in society and the responsibilities that come with it, and realize that there are deep structural problems with the old systems of coordination. But lacking the capacity for an orderly restructuring, or even a diagnosis of problems and needs, we dive deeper into a chaotic ideological mode of coordination that sweeps away the old structures.

When you live with this mindset, what you end up with is not an establishment where a woke upper class rallies and advocates for the rights of minorities, the poor, and underprivileged groups. What you have is a blind and self-righteous upper class that becomes structurally unable to take coordinated responsibility. You get stuck in an ideological mode of coordination, where no one can speak the truth to correct collective mistakes and overreaches without losing position.

This ideology is promulgated and advertised by universities, but it doesn’t start or stop at universities. All the fundraisers. All the corporate events. The Oscars. Let’s take down the Man. They say this in front of their PowerPoints. They clink champagne glasses. Let’s take down the Man! But there is no real spirit of revolution in these words. It is all in the language they understand—polite and clean, because it isn’t really real. It is a performative spectacle about their own morale and guilt.

If you were the ruler while everything was burning around you, and you didn’t know what to do, what would you do? You would deny that you are in charge. And you would recuperate the growing discontented masses into your own power base, so that things stay comfortable for you.

Yale students, if they weren’t powerful when they came in (and most of them were), they gain power by being bestowed a Yale degree. What would you do with this power? You don’t want to abuse it; you’re not outright evil. No, you want something different. You want to be absolved of your power. You are ashamed of your power. Why should you have it, and not somebody else—maybe somebody more deserving? You never really signed up for this. You would rather be somebody normal. But not, “normal,” normal. More like normal with options and vacations and money “normal.” Normal but still powerful. Or you want to be something even better than normal. You want to be the underdog. There is always a certain strange sense of pleasure in being an underdog. Expectations are lower. Whenever you accomplish anything at all—it is an accomplishment. You would rather have a narrative story of “coming up from the bottom.” Someone who not only does not have the responsibility of power, but someone who has a right to feel resentful of those who do. And better yet—someone who can use this resentment as a tool for self-interest.

How do Yale students give up their power? They do this in one of two ways. One way is termed selling out. This usually means taking a high-paying job at an institution that is at worst blatantly unethical, and at best not intentionally idealistic. A consulting job, a meaningless tech job, or a position at an investment bank. This is generally seen as the selfish route.

But there is more to selling out that nobody talks about. These jobs are the dream jobs of the middle class. They’re not supposed to be jobs for the sons and daughters of millionaires and billionaires—these kids don’t actually need the money. They want independence from their parents and proof that they can make it on their own—and prestigious work experience—but they have wealth acquired through generations that they can always fall back on. These people are generally as harmless as the middle class—which is to say completely harmless. They keep to themselves. They quietly grow their bank accounts and their 401ks. And just like the real middle class, they don’t want to risk their next promotion through being too outspoken. They have virtually no political power. This mindset is best encapsulated by: “I’ll go with the program. Please leave me alone to be comfortable and quietly make money.”

They effectively become middle class, because there is no longer any socially esteemed notion of upper class. They have a base of power, of f-you money, that they could use to become something greater than just another office worker or businessperson. But there is no script for that, no institutional or ideological support. What would it even mean to be an esteemed, blue-blooded aristocrat in 2019? So they take the easy and safe way.

How else do Yale students give up their responsibility?

They go in the other direction. These are the people who call themselves idealists and say they want to save the world. They feel the weight of responsibility from their social status—but they don’t know how to process and integrate this responsibility into their lives properly. Traditionally, structurally well-organized elite institutions would absorb and direct this benevolent impulse to useful purpose. But our traditional institutions have decayed and lost their credibility, so these idealists start looking for alternatives, and start signalling dissociation from those now-disreputable class markers.

But the capacity to really think through what an alternative should look like, and create one, is so rare as to be effectively nonexistent. Instead, idealists are forced to take the easy way of just going along with dominant ideological narratives of what it means to do good. They feel guilty about their wealth and privileges, and feel that they won’t be doing their part unless they do something very altruistic, and the idealistic ideologies reinforce these feelings. So they go overboard, and rush headlong into whatever they are supposed to do. They purport to speak for and be allied with underprivileged groups. They get their professors fired for minor infractions. They frantically tear down whatever vestiges of the old institutions and hierarchies that they can, and conspicuously feel guilty about the rest.

These are the people who buy clothes from Salvation Army and decline your Sunday brunch invitation because it’s too expensive, sometimes with the implication that they are saving their money to donate to more effective causes, if they aren’t pretending not to have it. They are the people who might attack or cut off their friends for ideological reasons. They discharge their personal responsibility by sacrificing everything outside of their distant mission, including friendships and social fabric.

It’s an understandable impulse. After all, given the state of legacy institutions, what else are you going to do with the energy of idealism? But ultimately, by going along with the narratives of an ideology that can efficiently capture these impulses, but has no structural ability to deliver on its promises, just diverts more energy from what a normal benevolent elite should be doing.

These people might sometimes say that they are “tired of fighting”—but this is not the full truth. Fighting is fun. It is always very fun to be a warrior—to have something you believe in that guides you. To be part of a tribe, working for the good of mankind. To be revered and respected for being on the bleeding edge of the paradigm.

Especially when you’re winning.

A must-read.

11 May 2019

Not The 21st Century I Was Hoping For

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William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Orestes Pursued by the Furies, 1862, Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia.

Robert Stacy McCain reports on just how out of control Title IX/”Dear Colleague” witch-hunting at Yale has become.

Is heterosexuality even legal at Yale University anymore?

    An accused student is suing Yale University for concluding that the brief absence of a condom “during an otherwise consensual encounter” was sexual assault.

    “John Doe” alleges that “gender bias was a motivating factor” in the decision against him by Dean of the College Marvin Chun, which resulted in his suspension. . . .

    Doe met “Ann Roe” through the dating app Tinder. Shortly after, the two agreed to meet face-to-face in the early hours of December 9, according to the suit. After a fraternity party, they went back to Doe’s place and had consensual sex.

    In the 90-minute encounter, the condom failed no later than 45 minutes in and “a new one had to be applied,” according to Doe. They had “unprotected sex for a few seconds” before he put on the new condom. . . .

    Roe provided “undisputed testimony” that she gave Doe consent for the entire period both condoms were on. . . .

    Roe stayed the night at Doe’s place, leaving on a positive note mid-morning. Throughout the rest of the month, the two exchanged an array of online messages that maintained a friendly dynamic, he said.

    Roe changed her tone in January, when she told Doe that she was uncomfortable with the brief absence of protection during their intercourse.

Hold up here. More than a month after the encounter, she “changed her tone.” Like, everything was OK for five weeks, but then for unexplained reasons it wasn’t OK? And then . . .

    Two weeks later, Roe filed a formal complaint of nonconsensual “unprotected sexual intercourse” against Doe with Mark Solomon, chair of Yale’s University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct.

    Doe believes that university employees cajoled Roe into filing a complaint “that she otherwise did not contemplate filing,” and that the UWC adopted the Title IX coordinator’s “mission of increasing reporting” of sexual misconduct, though the suit doesn’t provide evidence.

You can read the rest. Bottom line is, he got suspended just a few weeks before he was scheduled to graduate because this girl decides retroactively that this brief moment when the condom came off during a 90-minute sexual encounter constituted “assault,” and Yale’s administration just goes along with this? If you’ll read the entire 66-page complaint you’ll find a lot of other reasons not to believe the accuser, including the fact that she claims to have been sexually assaulted more than once before she hooked up with John Doe, suggesting perhaps she has a victimhood mentality. But the larger point is, how can any guy at Yale know he won’t be the next “John Doe,” denied due process and expelled on the basis of a flimsy accusation?

The only safe course is NEVER HAVE SEX WITH A YALE GIRL.

Amazing stuff!

Why is Yale charging $72,800 next year? So they can maintain bureaucracies in charge of “Diversity” and responsible for ruining the lives of any young men who are unwise enough as to incur the wrath of women scorned.

30 Apr 2019

Neo-Segregation at Yale

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A report by the National Association of Scholars, written by Peter W. Wood and Dion J. Pierre.

This study of racial segregation at Yale University is part of a larger project examining neo-segregation in American higher education in the period 1964-2019. During those fifty-five years, many American colleges and universities that initially sought to achieve racial integration found themselves inadvertently on a path to a new form of racial segregation. In the old form of segregation, colleges excluded black students or severely limited the number who were admitted. Similar policies were applied to other minority groups. By contrast, in the new form of segregation (neo-segregation), colleges eagerly recruit black and other minority students, but actively foster campus arrangements that encourage these students to form separate social groups on campus. Manifestations of this policy include racially separate student orientations, racially-identified student centers, racially-identified student counseling, racially-identified academic programs, racially separate student activities, racially-specific political agendas, racially-exclusive graduation ceremonies, and racially-organized alumni groups. In some cases, colleges also encourage racially exclusive student housing.

04 Apr 2019

The Left’s Attack Upon the Canon

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Alexander Zubatov, PR’97, describes, and explains, in a must-read article, the crazy Continental Left’s takeover of the Humanities.

Here… is another common sense truth, a proposition so obvious that it is bizarre that I should even need to set it forth: the race, gender, religion, sexuality or physical ability or disability of its creator is not a legitimate component of an art work’s quality. In fact, these are the very kinds of irrational social considerations that have sometimes regrettably distorted the picture of what has—and, more importantly, has not—been deemed canonical but which we, whenever we become cognizant of such errors, should try to discount.

But, in recent times, a strange inversion has taken hold of our thinking on the subject of canonicity. Instead of viewing such superficial aspects of the author’s identity as illegitimate variables the influence of which we should resist as far as possible, we have opened the floodgates in order to admit authors to the canon precisely on the basis of such considerations. Entire courses and majors have grown up around these superficial identitarian affiliations, and works of art—mistaken, perhaps, for democratic legislative bodies—have been lavished with praise because of their success in representing—in the sense of political rather than aesthetic representation­—the experience of this or that subgroup. Moreover, the same people who advocate for this identity genre literature also make a habit of assailing the canon for failures of representation, as though the quality of works could be gauged through a demographic survey. This form of philosophically unsound willful self-blinding to the hard truths of aesthetic superiority—which I would call aesthetic denialism—has become as pandemic in many segments of academia and the left as climate change denialism is on the right and has done great harm to the reputation and status of the humanities.

Lending an air of gravitas to this aesthetic denialism, there has been a proliferation of various branches of continental theory—largely post-structuralist and Marxist—that espouse a generally critical attitude towards existing hierarchies—aesthetic hierarchies included—seeing in these either the reification of indefensible and arbitrary distinctions (post-structuralism) or the pernicious reflections of power (Marxism). To adapt the argument advanced by John Guillory in his Pierre Bourdieu-inspired landmark work, Cultural Capital, during the decades between the downfall of the hereditary aristocracy and the emergence of our modern-day techno-financial elite, university education, particularly classical humanities education, came to serve as a dividing line between an educated aristocracy and common rubes and plebs. In the era of high modernism and prestigious print journalism, university departments conferring such knowledge and its attendant degrees enjoyed substantial cultural cachet and, to dispense such cachet, needed to agree upon a more or less unitary body of learning—the canon—as a boundary between education and inadequacy. But, as the old literary aristocracy gave way to a new moneyed elite, which elbowed its way into the ranks of the upper crust through highly compensated tech and finance industry jobs and needed to know how to read and write nothing more sophisticated than an office memo or PowerPoint presentation, the high school composition curriculum became more than adequate to its needs. Traditional high culture and university humanities were rendered supererogatory, becoming the devalued province of effete and useless intellectuals. Stripped of its most obvious practical function, the university’s role in what Marxist theorist Louis Althusser would have called the ideological state apparatus, serving to reproduce existing power relations—and the humanities professoriate drifted off unmoored into the great unknown. A unitary canon was no longer indispensable because the humanities themselves were no longer indispensable.

This led to two related developments. First, with the humanities no longer closely tethered to prevailing power structures, the stability and traditionalism that a close link to power demands fell away, and prominent humanities scholars with radically anti-establishment views were free to crawl out of the woodwork. Second, the new attitude of disrespect—and, increasingly, open scorn—that the techno-financial elite and much of the rest of society came to exhibit towards humanities academics led to a natural tit-for-tat. If you are disrespected, you are likely to seethe and lash out at your tormenters. You may, in fact, adopt your own posture of hauteur and disrespect, as if those people were hopelessly beneath you and will never understand you, since they are either too committed to the power relations in which they are embedded or else simpletons, blind to those power relations.

In this fertile ground for resentment, the attitude of critique took root, building on philosophical currents which first surfaced in the late nineteenth century and began to assume a simulacrum of their present-day form during the countercultural era of the 1960s. Bloom regularly fulminated against what he aptly termed these “schools of resentment,” which I discuss in more detail here. The approach of these peddlers of critique—sometimes known as the hermeneutics of suspicion—was to question all established norms and power structures, including the hegemonic structures that had allegedly informed the composition of the canon. Thus, instead of looking up toward the works they studied, these new anti-humanist humanitarians looked at them askance and endeavored to expose and unravel their inner tensions and contradictions and the hierarchies that had produced those works and entrenched them as objects of veneration. If the old humanities had once offered access to the upper echelons of society, what the new anti-humanities marketed was an attitude of superiority towards the society that had scorned them.

As new generations of students reared under the tutelage of these scholars entered the workforce and academia, the cultural capital enjoyed by the posture of critique predictably increased. Canonical lists were blown open, infiltrated by works that were aesthetically second-rate, but politically favored. A bevy of majors and departments in all sorts of identitarian oppression studies departments crystallized. Critique went corporate. Diversity became an industry: spawning seminars, consultants, initiatives and company retreats. At a time when our society had never been more tolerant, open and inclusive, media organizations, now staffed by graduates of these radicalized humanities departments, began to make a living trafficking in identitarian hysteria about racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia.

The numbers confirm this story. They show a pronounced leftward shift in humanities departments since 1990, around the same time when the tech sector, which contributed markedly to the marginalization of the humanities, began its economic takeover.

RTWT

HT: Katarina Apostilides.

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