Category Archive 'Yale'
25 Jan 2020

Yale Kills Renowned Art History Survey Course

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Jan Matejko, Stanczyk during a Ball at the Court of Queen Bona after the Loss of Smolensk, 1862.

July 1514: Stanczyk, the famous jester of Sigismund the Old, was renowned for his cynical humor, but Matejko shows the jester in a private moment of despair in a palace anteroom outside the royal ball being given by Queen Bona Sforza. On the table next to the jester, we see dispatches announcing the fall of Smolensk to the Muscovites. Alone among the denizens of Poland’s royal court, only Stanczyk the jester forsees with dread the rise of Moscow and the destruction of the Commonwealth.

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If Stanczyk were employed as jester these days at Yale Universuty in New Haven, Connecticut, he’d probably looked similarly after reading this Yale Daily News story.

Yale will stop teaching a storied introductory survey course in art history, citing the impossibility of adequately covering the entire field — and its varied cultural backgrounds — in one course.

Decades old and once taught by famous Yale professors like Vincent Scully, “Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present” was once touted to be one of Yale College’s quintessential classes. But this change is the latest response to student uneasiness over an idealized Western “canon” — a product of an overwhelmingly white, straight, European and male cadre of artists.

This spring, the final rendition of the course will seek to question the idea of Western art itself — a marked difference from the course’s focus at its inception. Art history department chair and the course’s instructor Tim Barringer told the News that he plans to demonstrate that a class about the history of art does not just mean Western art. Rather, when there are so many other regions, genres and traditions — all “equally deserving of study” — putting European art on a pedestal is “problematic,” he said.

“I believe that every object I discuss in [“Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present”] (with the possible exception of one truly ghastly painting by Renoir) is of profound cultural value,” Barringer said in an email to the News. “I want all Yale students (and all residents of New Haven who can enter our museums freely) to have access to and to feel confident analyzing and enjoying the core works of the western tradition. But I don’t mistake a history of European painting for the history of all art in all places.”

Instead of this singular survey class, the Art History Department will soon offer a range of others, such as “Art and Politics,” “Global Craft,” “The Silk Road” and “Sacred Places.” Barringer added that in two or three years, his department will offer a substitute class to “Introduction to Art History.” But the new class “will be a course equal in status to the other 100-level courses, not the introduction to our discipline claiming to be the mainstream with everything else pushed to the margins,” Barringer said.

RTWT

It’s essential, you see, to flatter the amour propre of representatives of Identity Victim Groups (specially recruited and affirmatively actioned into Yale) by assuring them that the crude carvings of devils and bogeys their Stone Age ancestors turned out are the equivalent of Michelangelo’s David.

20 Jan 2020

Yale Faculty Members Say Yale Needs Political Diversity

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Jessica Custodio, at Campus Reform, reports:

While Yale University has been pushing for an increased diversity of staff based on race, gender, and sexual orientation, some faculty members are speaking out about the lack of political diversity.

The Yale Daily News spoke with professors at the Ivy League institution for their perspectives on data from the school’s Office of Institutional Research showing that faculty diversity is on the rise when it comes to gender and culture.

Many criticized what they claimed to be a lack of effort to have a faculty body surrounding the current political ideology seen throughout the nation. The publication referenced a 2017 survey revealing that close to 75 percent of Yale professors self-identify as liberal with less than 10 percent identifying as conservative.

“Yale talks a lot of diversity, but basically all that diversity means here is skin color… there’s definitely no diversity here when it comes to politics,” said history professor Carlos Eire.”

“The liberal point of view is taken to be objective-not an opinion, not a set of beliefs, said Eire, adding that his own views are nonpartisan, “There’s an assumption that goes unquestioned that if you’re not part of the herd groupthink there’s something wrong with you.”

“[It’s] not helpful if you want to have an open society with creative and productive political dialogue… if everything you say is immediately invalid because you are not virtuous then there’s no dialogue,” Eire added.

Computer science professor David Gelernter agreed with his colleague, saying that the political diversity at Yale is “0 percent” and that there are “few conservatives, including prominent ones.”

“Of course, not many conservatives exist in most academic fields. But there’s no competition to get them either,” Gelernter added.

English professor Mark Oppenheimer spoke of his experience attending Yale as a student and compared it to the state of affairs today.

“My sense today is that the social cost that one would pay for having certain conservative views is very strong… and that effectively is a form of censorship, because to say people can say what they want, but they might pay for it by having far fewer friends, or being shunned, is not really to say that they can say what they want.”

RTWT

14 Jan 2020

The Late Harold Bloom

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Harold Bloom, right, with John Ward of Oxford University Press in New York on April 17, 1970.

The Yale Alumni Magazine, in the latest issue, collects anecdotes about the late Harold Bloom, testifying to both his genius and his eccentricity.

Bloom was wearing a stretched-out orange sweater, and he had begun reading from the moving Conclusion to Walter Pater’s The Renaissance. While continuing to recite (he knew this, like all texts, by heart), Bloom began to remove the sweater. But it got stuck as it passed over his head, so we could hear oracular utterances about life’s irredeemable evanescence continue to come from out of a gyrating mass of wool, until, the garment subdued at last, Bloom pronounced: “That is the most profound thing that was ever written.”

–Richard Brodhead ’68, ’72PhD
Bird White Housum Professor of English at Yale
Dean of Yale College 1993–2004
President of Duke 2004–2017

Harold was as devoted a teacher as I’ve ever known. “I am,” he often said, “a teacher first and last, and they’re going to have to carry me out of the classroom in a coffin.” It came close to that: he taught on Thursday, and died on Monday.

He was hungrier for poetry than anyone I have ever encountered. Once, when my wife and I were over at the house on Linden Street—just after he’d returned from a long stay at rehab following an illness—we were sitting in the living room and talking when Harold’s eyes shifted a little to the right of, and just above, my shoulder while I was midsentence. He’d spotted the mailman coming up the path to the front door, and interrupted me: “Peter, could you get the mail?” as we heard the storm door opening and the bundles hitting the floor. I brought them to him. He began ripping into envelope after envelope with his teeth, clutching his cane, and ignoring us entirely. “Harold, expecting something important?” I asked him. Without looking up, and in total seriousness, he answered: “Maybe someone has sent me a great poem.” Most writers I know run the other way when other people’s poems draw near; there was the great Bloom, at 81 or so, just back from a hospital stay, panting after them like a golden retriever.

–Peter Cole, Senior Lecturer in Judaic Studies and
Comparative Literature

RTWT

03 Jan 2020

Latest from Yale

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Milestones in the secularization of a university:

1899 – Yale installs its first president who is not an ordained clergyman.

1926 – Mandatory chapel-service attendance for Yale undergraduates abolished.

1958 – Communist William Sloane Coffin appointed Yale Chaplain.

2019 – In an apparent bid to stave off marginalization and irrelevance, the Yale chaplain’s office offers undergraduates access to a toddler-style bouncy castle.

“Check out our new Bouncy Castle for your anxiety relief needs. Bring a friend and bounce out your stress. We’ll be up around campus when the weather is nice. Follow us at #YaleChaplainsBounce”

HT: John Brewer.

02 Dec 2019

“Today’s Yale Grads Aren’t Qualified to Lead in the 21st Century”

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Esteban Elizondo is only a senior at Yale, but he’s indignant enough to be an alumn.

Last weekend, 148 students stormed the field at the Harvard-Yale game to protest climate change, causing a 50-minute delay and forcing the players to finish in the dark. The Post editorial board called it “the college-version of a toddler’s meltdown,” and that is exactly right. As a current Yale student, I am constantly stunned by the childish behavior of my peers, who are voting-age adults attending what is supposedly one of the most prestigious colleges in America.

At Yale, there is seemingly a new protest every week. Each protest carries the same juvenile self-righteousness, enabled by a university administration that never dares to challenge its student body.

Yale “first-years” arrive on campus curious and mostly capable, but the university quickly proceeds to bubble-wrap their young minds, eliminating any trace of discomfort from their college experience. Rather than allowing students to learn through adversity, the administration creates a safe space where students are never told “no.” Instead, they’re provided with amenities ranging from therapy puppies to sandboxes — more fitting of a day-care center than a university.

Rather than confront its student body with uncomfortable truths, the university creates an alternate reality, where the only opinion that matters is yours, especially if you’re a leftist. Earlier this month, a group of students painted their faces white and began wailing outside a classroom as part of a protest against professor Emma Sky, whom they lazily branded a “war criminal” because she once served as an advisor to the commanding general of US forces in Iraq and the commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

To be clear, professor Sky has dedicated her entire adult life to peace in the Middle East, and her calming influence during the war no doubt saved countless lives. But the students made no legitimate attempts to academically engage with her and claimed this was “interdisciplinary research” on the “ethnography of power.” Incredibly, this antic was part of a student’s senior project that was awarded both funding from a residential college and school credit.

The Harvard-Yale football protest, meanwhile, called for both schools to divest from fossil fuels, as though this could actually solve climate change, when the real answers are far more difficult and complicated. Apparently, America’s most academically successful students believe that conducting juvenile demonstrations is a more effective way to fix problems than proposing actual solutions.

But at Yale, there is little interest in challenging infantile thinking, because doing so would not advance the university’s objective: making sure students stay happy in school and get employed after graduation to satisfy its paying customers (parents). As a result, Yale undergrads spend four years totally detached from the rest of America and graduate without the skills needed to become future leaders who can meet the complex challenges of the 21st century.

In Yale’s defense, the college and other “elite” schools are successful at placing their students in influential positions. And we are now beginning to see the consequences of these graduates entering the real world. Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, for example, was stacked with Ivy League-educated staffers, including Robby Mook (Columbia ’02, campaign manager) and Amanda Renteria (Harvard MBA ’03, national political director).

However, acquiring a good job and being good at that job are not the same thing. In the same way that Yale students believe in progressive ideas about climate change and intersectional politics with a religious certainty, Clinton’s campaign arrogantly assumed that voters from Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania would never pull the lever for Trump. Had Clinton’s team questioned their beliefs, as the best colleges once taught its students to do, staffers would have made her visit those states rather than taking victory laps in October.

Listening to the latest Democratic presidential candidates — whose ideas were mostly forged in ivory towers — suggests this won’t change anytime soon. Given their academic pedigrees (14 of the original 24 declared candidates attended Ivy League schools), it isn’t surprising how out of touch they are. Promising to eliminate private insurance and advocating for open borders does not endear oneself to the average American.

This sense of immunity from the real world could be heard at last Saturday’s protest, where some students shouted “My father is a lawyer!” to police officers trying to persuade them off the field. These protesters did not sound like people who have faced true hardship or even learned the basics of a proper argument. But then again, why would they? They were taught to avoid all that at Yale.

06 Nov 2019

Education at Yale Today

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Make-up-wearing students lie on the floor protesting outside Yale Global Affairs classroom.

The Oldest College Daily‘s latest this morning featured the following item.

Five Yale students staged a protest outside of Global Affairs professor Emma Sky’s classroom on Tuesday afternoon after University administrators forbade them from entering and distributing a pamphlet criticizing the professor.

“Open your eyes, open your ears, you are being taught by those you should fear,” chanted the protestors, disrupting Sky’s 110-minute Global Affairs class titled Middle East Politics. Protestors — Zulfiqar Mannan ’20, Casey Odesser ’20, Hazal Özgür ’20, Nika Zarazvand ’20 and Francesca Maviglia MPH ’20 — said they initially intended to enter Sky’s seminar and distribute pamphlets calling their professor a war criminal.

But a Yale Police Department officer and Dean of Student Affairs Camille Lizarribar prevented students from entering the classroom. …

In an interview after the protest, Odesser told the News that she thought the University’s response to the protest foreclosed discussion about Sky’s previous involvement in Afghanistan.

“I am incredibly disappointed with the way that the University rejected our proposal to honestly, earnestly and creatively engage with [the students in the class],” Odesser said. “I’m appalled and horrified at how no one will talk to us engage with us and instead perceive us as a threat.”

According to Mannan, who is a staff writer for the News, the project was largely inspired by “the revolutionary aspect” of Paradise Lost and draws inspiration from the Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thunberg and Shaikh Sarmad.

While Mannan and Odesser received a Creative and Performing Arts Award from Morse College for their project, the college is now “re-evaluating if they are still able” to fund the project, Mannan said. The reason for the college’s reevaluation remains unclear. The Morse Head of College Office could not be reached for comment on Tuesday evening.

Odesser said that the project was not meant to be disruptive. She explained that the group had originally planned to “perform a slinky, sexy catwalk” into the classroom and silently place a pamphlet on each of the students’ desks. She said she believed that many students in Sky’s class have “not confronted the levels of hypocrisy and violence — like white feminism — that is propagated by her class.”


Zulfiqar Mannan ’20 shares (I’m not sure what possessive pronoun’s) viewpoint on the protest.

RTWT

Looking at all this, I inevitably wonder why so many exotic specimens of humanity from remote parts of the world, holding alien worldviews, with native perspectives often unfriendly to the United States, are given places in the undergraduate student body at Yale.

I cannot help but think that out there somewhere are five Christian All-American A-student American Eagle Scout heterosexuals far better qualified to provide leadership to this country. Yale was founded to supply Congregationalist ministers to the Colony of Connecticut. Extending that charter obligation to provide leaders in a variety of fields to the nation was a logical evolutionary development. Exactly why and how that mission has been extended to the provision of sexually-ambiguous pseudo-intellectual activists to the Middle East seems mysterious to me.

And, yes, I think plenty of alumni would like to know what Morse College thinks it is doing funding this kind of thing.

25 Oct 2019

Yale Wins!

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The Harvard Crimson uncritically reports the sexual assault survey which proves that it’s a lot more dangerous to send your daughter to an elite Ivy League school than to have her walk home at midnight through the worst neighborhood in Chicago.

But, hey! at least Yale comes out on top!

A national sexual misconduct climate survey administered to universities across the country earlier this year revealed that most schools did not see a significant change in the prevalence of sexual assault compared with incident rates four years ago, according to the results released earlier this month.

The American Association of Universities survey found that among similarly sized peer institutions, Harvard’s rate of sexual misconduct tended toward average.

Harvard’s prevalence rate of “nonconsensual sexual contact” for undergraduate women was within a percentage point of both Stanford’s and Brown’s. Harvard and Stanford both saw rates of roughly 33 percent, while Brown’s rate is 34 percent. Yale’s rate is higher at 39 percent, while MIT’s is lower at 27 percent.

RTWT

And some people just don’t understand why ordinary Americans have lost confidence in the wisdom and judgment of our national elite establishment.

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

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