IN AND OUT A Revolving Door for Yale s Professors of Color? by Alex Zhang
INSIDE: A (NOT SO) SAFE CAMPUS ACT P15 THE STUDENT-ATHLETE REEXAMINED P22 MFC%OC@@@@JJL<(EFM<D9<I)'(,
TOAD S: A SURVEY
Editor’s Note Dear readers, Welcome to the November issue of the Yale Daily News Magazine! As soon as we were officially elected this year’s Mag editors, we decided to get serious, contact our personal librarians and go back through the YDN Mag archives. The archives — existing mainly online but for select years only accessible as hard copies upon request from Sterling’s Manuscripts & Archives — go all the way back to Mag’s founding in 1972. We found out a couple things. First, your personal librarian has been waiting for you, lonely somewhere in the far depths of Sterling. Reach out. Make the first move. You won’t regret it. Second, YDN Mag has changed somewhat since we were founded 43 years ago. Our first few issues were only 15 pages long. We regularly ran ads for New Haven businesses that sold exclusively tarot cards and love potions. We had an official editorial position called “Coffee Editor,” ran a series of how-to guides for buying weed on campus and once printed the statistic, “44 percent of the population in Saybrook is screwing once a week or more.” YDN Mag looks pretty different now. But some things have stayed the same. The editorial note in the first issue of the Mag urges anyone and everyone to “help us revive a journalistic and creative colony at Yale, dedicated to enlivening the ideas, the events and the people that make the Yale Experience. We are all wunderkinds, right?” In this issue, Alex Zhang takes a keen look at over four decades of faculty diversification attempts at Yale, and why minority professors keep leaving. Maya Sweedler walks off the field and into the classroom with some of Yale’s top athletes. Phoebe Petrovic examines a controversial act on sexual assault. And Graham Ambrose spent an hour surveying some people entering and leaving a Lil Dicky concert. It’s been a whirlwind and a joy making our first issue with these — and so many other — wunderkinds. Looking forward to the next. Abigail and Liz
TABLE OF CONTENTS
table of contents
Textures of Life TSEDENYA SIMMIE
Shabbat at Yale AVIGAYIL HALPERN
THE MYSTERIOUS MS 408 Short Feature by Eve Houghton
It Came from the Film Archive! EMMA KEYES
Call Me, Beep Me EVE SNEIDER
Gentrification in New Haven, 2000-2014
15 AN ACT AND INACTION Feature by Phoebe Petrovic
She is Not Mine IVY NYAYIEKA
bits and pieces
THE MYTH OF THE DUMB JOCK Feature by Maya Sweedler
MAGAZINE Magazine Editors in Chief Abigail Bessler Elizabeth Miles Managing Editors Hayley Byrnes Lillie Lainoff
Design Editors Mert Dilek Eleanor Handler Tresa Joseph Samuel Wang Photography Editor Elinor Hills Kaifeng Wu
Associate Editors Gabriella Borter Brady Currey Frani Oâ€™Toole
Illustrations Editor Ashlyn Oakes
Magazine Design Editors Emily Hsee Amanda Mei
Editor in Chief Stephanie Addenbrooke
Cover photo by Elinor Hills
Copy Editor Martin Lim
Publisher Joanna Jin
STAFF: Graham Ambrose, Charlotte Brannon, Teresa Chen, Edward Columbia, Elena Conde, Ahmed Elbenni, Abigail Halpern, Emily Hsee, Eve Houghton, Madline Kaplan, Emma Keyes, William Nixon, Tsedenya Simmie, Eve Sneider, Oriana Tang, Claudia Zamora DESIGN ASSISTANTS: Miranda Escobar, Amanda Hu, Quinn Lewis, Jacob Middlekauff, Ellie Pritchett, Lisa Qian BUSINESS LIAISON: Diane Jiang
Personal Essay by Teresa Chen
32 IN AND OUT
Cover by Alex Zhang Yale Daily News Magazine | 3
TEXTURES OF LIFE by TSEDENYA SIMMIE
4 | November 2015
took these photos over the summer of 2015 while exploring my hometown, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. What struck me, and what I hope to convey in this series, is a diversity of textures. As in many parts of the world, life in Addis Ababa has all types of textures â€“ from the smooth surface of fabric to the coarse wrinkles of skin, from the glossiness of water to the graininess of a dirt path. These textures and experiences exist together, and are presented here as such.
Yale Daily News Magazine | 5
6 6 || November November 2015 2015
SHABBAT at Yale by Avigayil Halpern photography by Elinor Hills
missed my Freshman Assembly. I spent the first Saturday morning of my time at Yale in a small chapel instead, praying; rather than the splendor of Woolsey Hall, I opted for a small bright room where I sang in Hebrew. While my freshman peers donned dresses and blazers to hear President Salovey speak, I wrapped myself in a prayer shawl and listened to the words of the Torah chanted aloud. As a traditionally observant Jew, I observe Shabbat, the sabbath, from dusk on Friday to nightfall on Saturday each week. My Freshman Assembly conflicted with Shabbat morning prayers. Shabbat for many Jews is a time of rest and reflection, but for Jews like me who consider themselves bound to halakha, the formal system of Jewish law, Shabbat also means a specific set of
restrictions. On Shabbat, I don’t write, cook, travel or use any electricity, which includes putting away my phone and computer. The category of work I don’t do on Shabbat is called melakha. “Melakha, as I understand it, is the prohibition on engaging in creative labor,” explains Chana Zuckier LAW ’17, a first-year law student and codirector of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus. “The word is often translated [as] ‘work,’ but I think that’s inaccurate,” Zuckier says. “I think halakhically, melakha refers to things that either utilize or symbolize human creativity, and I think the idea is that six days a week we’re expected to maximize our human creativity to the best of our ability, to improve the world, and one day a week there’s a day that we
stop and recognize that ultimately our ability to be creative is derived from God.” Today, it is largely uncomplicated to observe Shabbat at Yale. My suitemates are accommodating of my practice of not flipping light switches and my unresponsiveness to texts on Friday nights and Saturdays. And because swiping an electronic key card falls into the category of forbidden labor, Yale provides me, like they do for any interested student, a manual key that opens one of the gates in their residential college, or, for freshmen, a manual key to Old Campus. To receive the key, all I had to do was fill out a form. Marc Fanelli, who works at the Yale University Lock Shop, estimates that there are 23 students this year who were given Shabbat keys. Yale Daily News Magazine | 7
“One of the masters stood up and said how proud he would be to give students keys to his house and have students walk through his living room if that’s what it took.” The ease with which I acquired this key, however, is not something I take for granted.
One administrator in particular, he remembers, accused them of blackmailing Yale by “saying if we didn’t get our way we would badmouth uring the 1994–95 school year, the University to Orthodox Jewish Yale announced a plan to put high schoolers.” electric locks on all campus “At that point,” he says, “when it buildings. The plan was formed in was interpreted as a threat rather than response to a wave of crime in the area, a concern, it really seemed there wasn’t in an attempt to reassure parents that any way to make progress on it, and it was safe to send their children to that was the point at which students school in New Haven. It caused a bit started expressing their concerns to of a panic — Yale was among the first their masters.” universities to introduce electronic My dad and another student were lock systems, and there was no model then invited to present their argument for how to accommodate observant to the Council of Masters. He recalls Jewish students. mentioning in the course of the At the time, my dad, Eric Halpern meeting that one student had joked ’95, was a senior and president of that her only recourse was to knock Yale’s Undergraduate Orthodox on her master’s door to be let into her Community. college. “One of the masters stood He remembers, “We went to lots up and said how proud he would be of meetings with administrators and to give students keys to his house did not get far at all. We tried to make and have students walk through his the case … that we needed to have living room if that’s what it took,” he physical keys, and the administration remembers. was pretty adamant that it would After the masters took an interest compromise security and so they were in the issue, they worked with the not really open to the idea.” administration to quickly resolve My dad describes meetings in it. When key cards were introduced, which Yale administrators attempted Shabbat-observant students were to convince Rabbi Michael Whitman, provided with manual keys. who served as the spiritual advisor to Yale’s Orthodox community at the oday, not only does Yale time, to change his opinion on Jewish accommodate students who law. observe Shabbat, but many As the meetings dragged on, he traditionally observant students also says, the conversation reached a low choose to come to Yale specifically point “when we pointed out that if the because of the quality of the ShabbatUniversity did not make some form of observant community here. accommodation, the university would Isabel Singer ’16, a senior in Morse be really unattractive to Orthodox who observes Shabbat, says that before Jewish prospective students.” she decided to apply early action to
8 | November 2015
Yale, she visited to make sure it would be a Shabbat-friendly environment. Singer explains that there were three reasons she came to Yale: “really awesome academics, really good music community and great Jewish community that was really strong, had a lot of observant people in it, but wasn’t exclusively Orthodox.” Like me, Singer identifies as a halakhic egalitarian Jew: bound to traditional Jewish law but viewing women as equal citizens in religious citizenship and obligation, especially in prayer contexts. When I was exploring my college options, it was a priority for me to find a Jewish community where all students who observed Shabbat were part of a unified community, not divided based on who prayed in which settings. Shabbat at Yale is sometimes similar to Yalies’ Shabbat practices at home, sometimes not. Evan Risch ’18, a sophomore in Trumbull, observed Shabbat before coming to Yale but cites a different “energy” in the community at Yale. “My community at home is small … the Shabbat experience there is very laid-back, not very energetic, so I was looking for that sort of energy component,” he says. “[At Yale] people are very into Jewish things like singing and davening [prayer] in addition to the social aspect.” For Nate Swetlitz ’17, a junior in Silliman, Yale provided the opportunity to shift his Shabbat practice in a more traditional direction. Swetlitz did not grow up in a community that observed Shabbat according to Jewish law. For example,
courtesy of Avigayil Halpern his family would drive cars on Shabbat. “When I came to Yale I definitely wanted more of a community,” he says. “I realized that since I was able to walk around everywhere and that sort of thing — that sort of changed my observance levels and now when I go home I also don’t drive.” The community Swetlitz was seeking thrives at Yale. Risch, who is a cocoordinator of Orthodox prayer services at the Slifka Center, says that he was seeking “something active, in which I could have an active role, which usually meant a smaller community — that’s why Yale is a good fit.”
ale is not unique in having a strong Shabbat-centered community of observant Jews. Shabbat at Princeton and Harvard, both of which have observant Jewish communities similar in size to Yale, closely resembles Shabbat at Yale: the community eats meals together, and spends time singing, playing board games, going on walks and spending unstructured time together unmediated by technology. At Penn and Columbia, both of which have a large religiously observant population, students often host smaller meals in their dorm rooms or off-campus apartments. Penn, Princeton and Harvard all
provide their students with manual keys for use on Shabbat. At Columbia, where students must sign in when entering dorm buildings that are not theirs, simply telling the guard that one is Sabbathobservant circumvents this requirement. Dartmouth, however, has a worse reputation among Shabbat-observant Jews. “There were certain schools that I really was not thinking about seriously because I had seen that they really weren’t Shabbat-friendly environments,” Singer says, citing Dartmouth in particular. Dartmouth was initially unresponsive last year to my friend Cameron Isen’s request for a manual key for his freshman dorm building. Cam, who I met on a teen Israel program, began observing Shabbat shortly before he arrived at college. When asked how accommodating Dartmouth has been to his Shabbat-related needs, Isen chuckles and says, “I laugh because it’s kind of hilarious.” When he requested a key, he says, “Initially I got a really offensive response from the school, where the Office of Pluralism and Leadership — whose job it is to advocate for minority students on campus — told me I had three options: get an exemption from my rabbi, which I took to mean ask him to change halakha
[ Jewish law], wait outside for somebody to let me in, or move off campus.” Dartmouth’s Office of Pluralism and Leadership did not respond to request for comment. Similar to my dad’s solution to resistance from leadership at Yale in 1994, Cam eventually decided to contact his dean of Residential Housing. The issue was resolved over his winter break that same year, and he now has a manual key to use on Shabbat and on holidays with similar restrictions. Cam is currently embroiled in another conflict with Dartmouth’s administration, though, over their refusal to provide students with dining options that adhere strictly to kosher standards.
feel fortunate to be at Yale at a time when, unlike my dad or Cam at Dartmouth, I can be a fully religious person and also a Yale student. Observant Jewish Yalies have a tradition of singing the football fight song immediately following the “Grace After Meals” on Shabbat. The tunes are very similar, and sitting in the kosher dining hall, we sing praises to God and then move seamlessly into “Bulldog.” This is Shabbat on campus: song and tradition, for God and for Yale. Yale Daily News Magazine | 9
by Emma Keyes illustration by Dan Gorodezsky
have a deep love for objectively bad movies. I’m a prospective film studies major, so I’m supposed to watch a lot of “good” films — ones like Citizen Kane, Grand Illusion and Vertigo. In class, we watch these films (always “films,” never “movies”) on 35 mm (“Just like they were meant to be shown,” as my professor says). The films fill the pages of my New York Times Guide to the Best 1000 Movies Ever Made, the $24.95 Bible of good film. But there’s a gaping hole in its scripture: almost no good “bad movies.” But this year, bad movie enthusiasts like me — let’s get real, I have seen the 1997 Spice Girls movie, Spice World, probably 25 times — got one small victory. Thanks to the efforts of David Gary, the Kaplanoff Librarian for American History, and Aaron Pratt GRD ’15, Yale acquired close to 3,000 VHS tapes, mostly horror movies from the 1970s and ’80s. The typical film snob hates VHS. The poor image quality is pretty much the opposite of a classic cinematic experience. But VHS tapes, Gary says, have actually been critically important in the history of film: the easy access and wide distribution of VHS allowed pretty much anyone with a camera to make a movie, democratizing the movie-making industry. And no genre benefited more than horror, bringing us timeless classics like City of Panic, Blood Orgy of the She Devils and Silent Night, Deadly Night. As VHS tapes migrate from living rooms to landfills, though, we risk losing more than the physical tapes. Various estimates say that between 40 and 50 percent of VHS movies have never been transferred to any other format. We lose the cassette, 10 | November 2015
we lose the content that goes with it. That’s where the Yale archive comes in: it aims to preserve both the culture and medium of VHS, calling VHS tapes “the cultural id of an era.” The collection makes Yale one of the only academic institutions collecting VHS tapes for historical value. Archiving the tapes has proven to be more difficult than it sounds. The biggest issue for the collection has been preservation. At some point, Gary says, all the tapes “do need to be digitized.” Video is not a format known for its longevity, and as Gary explains, “to do it properly, you’re talking, you know, back of the envelope, 50 bucks per tape to do preservation files.” Since the Yale Library may not have $150,000 lying around to devote to a niche video collection, Gary set up a station in Manuscripts & Archives where people can play the tapes. “I want people to see the originals,” he says. Basically, if you ever have a craving for low-budget ’80s horror, Gary’s got you covered.
ale’s VHS renaissance is currently being driven by a semesterlong VHS Horror Movie series, “Zombies, Maniacs, and Monsters,” screened in Bass Library. Gary recently showed Toxic Zombies (1980), a movie directed, written and starred in by Yale Law School graduate Charles McCrann LAW ’72. It’s no Kubrick, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be studied. Underneath the prosthetics and fake blood, Toxic Zombies is actually an allegory for environmental destruction and government overreach. And that shouldn’t be such a surprise: because of VHS’s almost complete lack of
reliance on studio funding, creators could explicitly tackle a wide range of social issues. Other VHS movies deal with anxieties about crime, AIDS and nuclear apocalypse, social issues that were high up in the public’s conscience in the ’70s and ’80s. But there’s a fundamental disagreement in the VHS community: does videotape have value distinct from the media it contains? Do all the tracking marks and warped audio help or hurt the viewing experience? Some VHS aficionados would prefer to see their favorite movies in a high-quality format, but Gary believes “the physicality of videotapes matters.” He thinks the medium itself is worth studying and collecting as a part of history, and sees VHS as an art form. A big part of the reasoning is the cover art: as necessary as it is to digitize movies so that zombie apocalypses are preserved for future generations to enjoy, the artwork on the tapes themselves are a large part of why Gary thinks these movies are so special. “These are weird movies that a lot of people just — in an academic sense — never thought, like, ‘Hey we should get this stuff,’” Gary says. But he holds out hope that by organizing VHS-related events at Yale, people will become interested in the medium and its history, maybe even enough to “drive the conversation in the future.” I hope he’s right. And who knows, maybe Toxic Zombies will become my new favorite “bad movie.” Sorry, Spice World.
n 1665, the German physician Johannes Marcus Marci wrote to a famous Jesuit cryptologist, Athanasius Kircher, to request his help in deciphering a very peculiar manuscript. The manuscript had been bequeathed to Marci by his friend Georg Baresch, an alchemist who had
John Dee, Emperor Rudolf II of Germany, Jacobus Horcicky de Tepenecz and the Jesuits, among others) were similarly stymied. For centuries, then, the book — which would come to be known as the Voynich Manuscript, after the Polish antiquarian
THE MYSTERIOUS MS 408
Library, catalogued as “MS 408.” Although the Beinecke has been the home of the Voynich Manuscript since 1969, the library does not compile information about the codex, nor does it attempt to decipher it. Still, Yale is something of a center for Voynich inquiry. In past years,
by Eve Houghton
BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY, YALE UNIVERSITY, MS 408
devoted his whole life to decoding it. In his letter to Kircher, Marci wrote: This book was left to me by a close friend in his will, and ever since I first owned it I have destined it for you, my dearest Athanasius, persuaded as I am that it can be read by none if not by you. The then possessor of the book … put untiring work into its decipherment as will be seen from his attempts now sent to you under the same cover. He did not give up this hope until he reached the end of his life. [trans. Philip Neal] Like Baresch, however, Kircher also failed to break the code. Previous and successive owners (the English astrologer
and book dealer Wilfrid Voynich — has been the object of frustration, obsession and even fetishization. The text is accompanied by hundreds of elaborate, colorful and sometimes bizarre illustrations: exotic plants, cosmological charts, naked women, medicinal herbs, an interconnected network of tubes. The manuscript’s striking visual language thus reinforces its iconic status, even as its text remains indecipherable. In this sense, the Voynich Manuscript seems to prove that a book can be, after all, just an object.
he Voynich Manuscript is currently held in the collections of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript
the Beinecke has hosted and collaborated with documentary filmmakers, novelists and radiocarbon-dating specialists. The library also undertakes the daily responsibilities of responding to research inquiries and fielding the many requests to see the manuscript. Indeed, the impulse to look at and touch the Voynich Manuscript — to turn its pages, pore over its illustrations and attempt to decipher its beautiful but indecipherable script — seemingly transcends time and place. In the early 17th century John Dee’s son reported that his father had “a booke … containing nothing butt Hieroglyphicks, which booke [he] bestowed much time upon: but I could not Yale Daily News Magazine | 11
heare that hee could make it out.” In a recent article for The New Yorker, Reed Johnson, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Virginia, described his summer of Voynich obsession: “I made an electronic facsimile of the book for my iPad using high-resolution scans of the pages, and spent hours — which turned into days and weeks — flipping through the pages, captivated by the smallest details in the margins.” As Johnson’s account suggests, new waves of technology have made it easier than ever to become a Voynich devotee. Blogs and email listservs provide an online gathering space for like-minded people to share their theories, and the free availability of digital scans of the manuscript (provided by the Beinecke) enables anyone to exercise their cryptographic skills, closely examine the illustrations, or simply admire the Voynich Manuscript as an artistic production. The increasing accessibility of the manuscript, however, does not necessarily mean that we are any closer to deciphering it. For hundreds of years, it has eluded the efforts of those who, like Georg Baresch, “did not give up this hope” until their deaths. In the 1920s, for example, the cryptographer William Newbold spent the final years of his life developing a torturously complex (and now discredited) system of decipherment, by which each letter had to be viewed under a magnifying glass to reveal the “true” underlying script. Even he admitted, however, that “I frequently find it impossible to read the same text in exactly the same way.” The famous World War II cryptographer William Friedman tried his hand at it, but after decades of labor declared, “I put no trust in anagrammatic acrostic cyphers, for they are of little real value — a waste — and may prove nothing — finis.” In this sense, the peculiar charisma of the manuscript might not be entirely benign: the Voynich rapaciously absorbs time, money and 12 | November 2015
human energy, with few discernible results. What would it mean, then, if the manuscript is actually a hoax or a centuries-old practical joke — if, in other words, the Voynich Manuscript will never be decoded, because there is nothing to decode?
here is also, of course, persuasive evidence to the contrary: linguists have identified clusters of recurring symbols that suggest some sort of overarching philological organization, and the length and ornate detail of the manuscript would themselves seem to provide an argument for its significance as a storehouse of knowledge about late medieval botany, alchemy and medicine. Surely, then, no one would go to such lengths to produce a book that could never be read. But the possibility that the language of the Voynich Manuscript is mere gibberish is one way to explain the failure of so many gifted cryptographers and linguists to decipher it. After all the feverish speculation about its authorship — Roger Bacon, the 13th-century Franciscan friar, was one candidate proposed — it might just consist of a series of nonsense symbols, accompanied by fantastical illustrations. And yet the manuscript continues to exert a powerful hold on the imagination. Perhaps it is precisely because the manuscript has remained unreadable for centuries that generations of book collectors, cryptographers and members of the general public have remained so enthralled. The indecipherability of the manuscript opens up the possibility that anyone, even an ordinary citizen, might succeed where others have failed. The decoding of the Voynich is thus always in the future tense: one day the code will be broken, and the Voynich Manuscript will yield up its secrets. Just not yet.
CALL ME, BEEP ME
by EVE SNEIDER illustration by LAURIE WANG
wenty-five. That’s how many texts I’ve sent so far today. I text about psets and dinner plans. I text Hey and How’s it going? and occasionally Let’s talk about this in person. Sending these messages is reflexive; texting is a convenient and integral part of my life
at Yale. But I haven’t always been so wedded to technology. I’m from Japan. If you saw me on Old Campus or racing down the corridor in WLH, you wouldn’t know this. Most people don’t until I tell them. And, in truth, I’m not Japanese. I was
born and raised in Tokyo but am pretty obtrusively foreign. Back home, I never struggled for breathing room on the subway, even at the peak of rush hour; at 5-foot-9, all I saw were the tops of heads. Sometimes I would hear the passengers talk about me in Japanese — “That girl is so tall,” “Look how light her hair is” — thinking I didn’t understand. And yet, though I have a U.S. passport and am not Japanese, I am not wholly American. In high school, my friends and I talked about “Americans” like they weren’t us. (Most of us, though admittedly not all, had at least one parent who had been raised stateside.) Americans couldn’t understand the metric system, we joked. They couldn’t handle their liquor, or walk places, and they really couldn’t get off of their damn phones. This was a big one. Whether this criticism was unique to my immediate circle of friends or to my strange, international, purportedly “American” school, I’m not sure. I don’t want to paint my expatriate upbringing as some screen-free utopia. It wasn’t. I spent a lot of time taking selfies on Snapchat and stalking people (and by people I mean of the my-friend’s-thirdcousin’s-fiancé variety) on Facebook and Instagram. But there was always something different about how we understood our actions and how we understood those of Americans. We put our phones away when we ate meals. We consulted maps for directions. For the most part, we really didn’t text. This was my reality and I was proud of it. Then I came to college. Now, for the first time, I am living in America. Land of the free, land of chattiness, land of open spaces and sandwiches the size of my torso. And I am one of the Americans, online and with a phone charger perpetually in hand. To my surprise, when I arrived here, I shrugged off my former identity as something of a Luddite without sentimentality. I did not eulogize my trusty paper planner when I abandoned Yale Daily News Magazine | 13
crit it two weeks into September in favor of a GCal. I am not squeamish about leaving my phone on the table during a meal. I eagerly exchange numbers with people, and I actually make use of them. Part of it is necessity. This is college! There are a thousand things happening at any given time — talks, office hours, hangouts, meals — and it’s these activities that make being here worthwhile. To take a page out of Aerosmith’s book, I don’t want to miss a thing. None of us do. Even my born-and-bred American friends have remarked that they’ve used their phones more since starting school than they ever did at home. My phone has proved integral to my life on and off campus. Just last week, I had one of my best and most intimate conversations in the last few months with a friend at school on the other side of the country. The hoops we had to jump through to plan our Skype date were comical; she Snapchatted me, I texted her, we ended up settling on a date and time over Facebook chat. It was an aggravating process, but once we were in the same place — figuratively, at least — the distance vanished.
f you’re a millennial — or you have parents who are obsessed with reading about millennials — you’ve probably read something about how technology is destroying us. It’s one of those topics that is both persistently hot-button and totally hackneyed. Beauty bloggers write posts about unplugging for the day and seeing the world anew. Friends discuss deleting their Facebook pages, how liberated they felt. There are more than 52 million search results for “the problem with smartphones” online (I know this because I googled “the problem with smartphones” on my smartphone). The concern that technology is gnawing away at life as we know it has been present since the advent of the printing press. A recent example is the New York Times op-ed “Stop Googling. Let’s
14 | November 2015
Talk.” The piece, written by MIT professor Sherry Turkle, features many of the criticisms of cell-phone culture and connectivity that we are all familiar with. Turkle writes of the “sense of loss” kids these days feel in their day-to-day interactions as a result of the ubiquitous iPhone. Apparently, “the mere presence of a phone on the table between [two people] or in the periphery of their vision changes both what they talk about and the degree of connection they feel.”
echnology serves as a conduit for empathy, rather than an obstacle to it. As with my Skype date last week, seeing the familiar expressions of my friend as she spoke made me feel incredibly close to her. Technology also gives you a comforting dose of social assurance; you always know when you’re on someone’s mind. Every time someone sends me a link to a Comedy Central clip, or tags me in an Instagram of a porcupine being tickled (I’m a sucker for porcupines), I know they’re thinking of
I DON’T THINK A SCREEN CAN OR WILL EVER REPLACE THE TOUCH OF A HAND OR THE SOUND OF SOMEONE BREATHING NEXT TO YOU. None of this read as terribly new or exciting, but one of Turkle’s findings genuinely unnerved me. She writes of a University of Michigan compilation of 72 different studies conducted over a 30-year period. The discovery? “A 40 percent decline in empathy among college students, with most of the decline taking place after 2000.” This conclusion stands on the shoulders of earlier psychological studies showing that people are “inextricably linked to their social environment and to those around them.” According to Turkle, “Research is catching up with our intuitions” that smartphone use is becoming a hindrance to interpersonal interactions. She says the question we face is not one of whether or not to use our phones, but of how to use them intentionally, rather than indiscriminately. I agree. That said, she uses examples of children who cannot read facial expressions or social cues to prove the correlation between the advent of technology and our empathetic faculties — this is a little alarmist. I don’t think a screen can or will ever replace the touch of a hand or the sound of someone breathing next to you.
me. This goes both ways; I love reaching out to people just as much as I love being reached out to. And isn’t that what empathy is all about? Intentionality is valuable, yes, and I intend to keep it in mind. But I also intend to use my phone as I see fit. Sometimes that means replying to a text message right when I get it. Sometimes that means checking my email 18 times in an hour. Sometimes that means taking 15 minutes out of my frenetic and jampacked day to play Internet solitaire or look at food porn on Instagram. I don’t have the 90 minutes to decompress by watching a movie, but I do have the three required to unlock the next level of Candy Crush. These things have become important to me, and I intend to keep them in my life. Part of me questions the validity of this continued debate because, let’s face it, cell phones aren’t going anywhere. I refuse to believe that we, the digital natives, are any more robotic and apathetic than those who came before us. Today, a life best lived is arguably one lived with a smartphone in hand. Let’s be purposeful. Let’s also stop bemoaning them. There are more important messages awaiting our response.
AN ACT AND ACTION On the national and university levels, Greek organizations have joined the conversation on campus sexual assult in different tones. BY PHOEBE PETROVIC PHOTOGRAPHY BY KAIFENG WU
Yale Daily News Magazine | 15
he block is busy. Laughing and shouting, college students pass between alternating patches of light and shadow cast by street lamps. On the fronts of the houses, Greek letters glint in the faint glow. Inside one house, emblazoned Sigma Nu, the bass throbs, dull and forceful like a heartbeat. This is High Street, home to three of Yale’s housed fraternities: SigEp, SAE, and Sig Nu. There are several other fraternities and five established sororities scattered elsewhere in New Haven, but High Street is the home base for much of the University’s Greek life. A “Frat Row” like High Street exists on nearly every college campus in America. And in the face of mounting national frustration at the prevelance of sexual assault and harrassment at Greek institutions on campuses, Frat Rows across the country are coming more and more under fire. Recently, though, the national arms of several fraternities and sororities with chapters at Yale have joined the discussion, lobbying in support of a piece of federal legislation on sexual assault called the Safe Campus Act. Introduced by Republican Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona in late July, the bill would drastically change reporting requirements for sexual assault on campuses. If passed, it would prohibit universities from conducting internal investigations into complaints of sexual assault unless the victim files a report with the police or allows the university to refer the complaint. In other words, if a survivor of sexual assault wanted the perpetrator to face punishment, they would have to go to law enforcement — speaking to the university would no longer suffice. Over the last few months, the bill has garnered significant backlash from sexual assault victim advocacy groups. Yet although several members of Yale’s Greek organizations have taken it upon themselves to address the issue of sexual assault on campus, all members interviewed were either unaware of or against the bill their parent organizations had endorsed.
16 | November 2015
feature Between the national and local levels of Yale’s Greek institutions, there seems to be a disconnect.
n September, The Huffington Post published the statements of 23 advocacy organizations that reject — or in the case of the Victim Rights Law Center in Boston “STRONGLY OPPOSE” — the Safe Campus Act. Surveys of sexual assault survivors show that many find it difficult to report sexual assault. A recent Association of American Universities (AAU) report, published Sept. 22, showed that only 25 percent of more than 150,000 sexual assault survivors in colleges reported the crime to campus authorities or police. And advocacy organizations worry that a mandatory police-reporting requirement like the one found in the Safe Campus Act would deter even more sexual assault victims from coming forward. National Greek organizations, though, have come out strongly in support of the act. The national arm of the Sigma Nu fraternity, which has a chapter at Yale, has announced its support for the bill. And two umbrella organizations, the NorthAmerican Interfraternity Conference (NIC) and the National Panhellenic Council (NPC) — both claiming to represent the interests of their member Greek organizations, including all of Yale’s housed fraternities and four of its sororities — have publicly endorsed it. The NPC says in its mission statement that it “serve[s] as the national voice on contemporary issues of sorority life.” The NIC, meanwhile, claims to “advocate the needs of its member fraternities through enrichment of the fraternity experience.” Not only have these two groups endorsed the Safe Campus Act, but they have paid big money — $140,000 in lobbyist fees, in fact — to fight for its passage. Interestingly, both organizations also endorse the Fair Campus Act, another federal sexual assault bill that doesn’t include the law enforcement-reporting requirement. But the NIC stated that in
comparison to that act, the Safe Campus Act “will more effectively engage the criminal justice system in the investigation and adjudication of allegations of sexual violence.” The NPC concurred, saying that the Safe Campus Act “would result in an increase in survivor protection and safety because law enforcement will investigate more allegations and have a better chance of taking criminals off campus.” Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., — who have introduced yet another legislative alternative to the Safe Campus Act — published a letter to NIC and NPC officials condemning their support of the Safe Campus Act. McCaskill stated in a press conference that the bill “backfires in every way imaginable against what fraternities and sororities claim to want.” Because of this, McCaskill says, “I would be very upset if I were a young woman in a sorority today.”
espite Greek organizations’ emphatic support on the national level, though, seven members of Yale’s Greek chapters either had not heard of the Safe Campus Act or opposed it. The two members interviewed who knew of the bill learned about it through personal work with sexual assault victim advocacy rather than through their Greek chapters. Helen Price ’18, Kappa Alpha Theta’s chief marketing officer and co-founder of a new student group called Unite Against Sexual Assault at Yale (USAY), expressed her opposition to mandatory police reporting for sexual assault cases. “It’s important for [survivors] to get justice on some level, without having to go through an exhausting and stressful judicial process,” she said. Price added, “If [the Safe Campus Act] passes, it’s going to be disastrous, to be honest, for people coming forward and reporting their sexual assaults.” Max Cook ’17, president of Sigma Nu and an executive board member of USAY, objected to the mandatory police reporting provision as well but acknowledged a disconnect between his personal opinions
While I wait in the bathroom by Eli Benioff
Sometimes, I run prayers in the sink and press my ear to the drain. Sometimes, I pale naked in the face of the mirror and ask to be made a moon. Sometimes, I disown even the loneliest star to persuade the beat from my heart. and the actions of his larger organization. Cook was blunt: “I’m focused on Yale’s culture, not the Sigma Nu at Florida State.”
his year’s AAU report — which surveyed students at 27 different U.S. univsersities — revealed the sobering reality of sexual assault on college campuses across the country. At Yale, which showed a higher rate of incidence than average, this proved especially true. The report revealed the frequency of sexual misconduct at Yale, stating that over 74 percent of female undergraduate respondents had experienced some form of sexual harassment, and 16.1 percent of all Yale students had experienced attempted or completed sexual assault. Certain groups, like students who have non-binary gender identities, experienced sexual assault at even higher rates. For instance, 28.4 percent of “other gender” students experienced sexual assault. On the whole, the report showed Yale students are at an above average risk of sexual assault or misconduct compared to students at the 26 other universities polled. Almost all students interviewed for this story — Greek and non-Greek affiliated alike — brought up the report’s findings, characterizing them as “shocking” and “alarming.” And in the wake of the report and heightened campus awareness, many in Greek organizations at Yale have felt compelled to act. Yale Daily News Magazine | 17
feature Cook, for one, said his participation in Greek life was exactly why he applied to the USAY board. “After the AAU report came out and I saw the rise in energy on campus related to sexual assault, I felt conflicted in my role as a president of a fraternity,” he said. “I decided I needed to use my role as president of Sig Nu in whichever way I could to be a major player in trying to start the conversation and bring other stakeholders in the conversation” about bettering Yale’s sexual climate. The statistics in the AAU report do not indicate where on campus the sexual assaults occurred. Elizabeth Larsen ’15, student affairs fellow at the Office of Gender and Campus Culture, wrote that due to the Title IX and UWC complaint process confidentiality, it is impossible to say where these incidents happen. But many say fraternities’ dominance in campus party culture cannot be overlooked. Burgwell Howard, dean of student engagement and designated Greek life liaison, wrote in an email, “The Greek chapters definitely do play a role in the social life of Yale … in this manner, they do play a significant role in helping our campus address issues of sexual assault.”
ction on the part of Yale fraternities can be seen as crucial given the history of fraternity incidents related to sexual harrassment at Yale. Within the past decade, multiple instances of sexual harassment at Yale fraternities have gained national attention. In 2008, Zeta Psi members were photographed holding signs reading “WE LOVE YALE SLUTS” outside the Women’s Center. In 2010, Delta Kappa Epsilon pledges chanted, “No means yes, yes means anal” on Old Campus. Last year, SAE was accused of sexually harassing and mocking a female student in a chapterwide presentation. And this past
Halloween weekend, SAE made national news after an allegation of blatant racism — a member turning black women away from a party, saying “white girls only” — brought forth a chorus of similar incidents experienced by women of color across campus. Though all of these events sparked outrage when they occurred, the University response has not been consistent. The Women’s Center considered suing Zeta after the 2008 scandal, but ultimately chose to submit an extensive report of complaints, along with a proposal outlining solutions to sexual harassment on campus. In that case, the University took no formal disciplinary measures. In the wake of the DKE scandal, the University levied fiveyear sanctions against the fraternity. The administration took similar — though shorter — action against SAE after the events of last year. And an investigation has just begun into the events that occurred on Halloween weekend. Price characterizes her impression of Yale’s sexual climate as “disappointing” and “unhealthy,” even beyond the AAU sexual assault numbers. “[Fot] a lot of my friends and I, when we go out, it’s pretty normal to get groped at some point during the night,” she said. “But people wouldn’t think of reporting it because they don’t think it’s serious enough to report.” That normalization of inappropriate behavior, Price said, has contributed to a troubling dichotomy. “The problems with the sexual climate as I see them are that people see it as a binary between being a good guy and a rapist,” she said. “A lot of people don’t seem to get that small actions — slut shaming, being sexually aggressive at a party — contribute … to an unhealthy sexual climate.” Sadé Kammen ’19, a member of USAY’s executive board, has also experienced these
“I’M FOCUSED ON YALE’S CULTURE, NOT THE SIGMA NU AT FLORIDA STATE.” 18 | November 2015
behaviors first-hand and criticizes a lack of bystander intervention training for freshman. She said Yale’s sexual climate surprised her when she arrived on campus this fall, noting that she and her classmates have so far only participated in the Communication and Consent Educators’ first-year consent workshop (“the froyo discussion”), which she says her peers treated jokingly. “At night, the amount of small sexual microaggressions that I’ve experienced, especially as a woman of color, has been alarming,” she said. Kammen said she has endured multiple instances of unwanted groping or touching that happened despite her saying no, adding, “The lack of people stepping in even when they could see I was uncomfortable is alarming.”
ale’s Greek organizations may not be taking a stance on the Safe Campus Act, but according to members of several chapters, attempts are being made to combat sexual assault. Price, who says USAY grew out of an event she co-organized earlier this year called the Fearless Conference, emphasized the importance of getting all campus groups involved in combatting sexual violence. Attendees to this year’s Fearless Conference included contingents from Yale’s Theta chapter and all three High Street fraternities. USAY now has an executive board of eight students hailing from several different spheres of Yale: Sofia Braunstein ’18, Sonia Blue ’18, Cook, Celeste Dushime ’18, Neema Githere ’18, Lindsey Hogg ’17, Kammen and Jack Williamson ’18. “The key is realizing [that sexual assault is] everyone’s problem, and there’s no excuse to not be involved,” Price said. That includes engaging Greek organizations. “You can’t have organizations who are seen as — and are — demonstrably part of the problem and just chastise them and not invite them to be part of the solution as well. You have to enlist groups who haven’t traditionally been involved,” Price said. To that end, Price said the cornerstone
feature of USAY’s work will be its Campus Leaders program. The program will consist of students from different parts of Yale — sports teams, Greek organizations, cultural houses, performing arts troupes, LGBTQ groups and more — serving as active ambassadors to USAY. “They commit to our aims … and to actively call out those who aren’t upholding those standards in their own personal behavior,” Price said. Administrators and Greek organization members say that beyond USAY’s work, there are other important initiatives already in place. “CCEs do customized workshops within many fraternities and sororities, at their request,” wrote Melanie Boyd, assistant dean of student affairs, in an email. Vincent Kennedy ’16, CCE project coordinator and a member of Chi Psi, said that these workshops often add specialized topics such as hosting guests and crowd management to general bystander intervention. “[Fraternities] have direct control over the way the lighting is, the drinks that are served and how loud the music is” at a party, said Kennedy. “Those things have a tangible impact on the way a night plays out.” Laura Goetz ’17, a CCE and board member of Sappho, agrees. “Who owns the space does a lot for the power dynamic [during parties],” she said. “A lot of campus feels unsafe and [changing that] should be our primary priority.” However, Dean Boyd noted that there is no University mandate for these Greekspecific CCE workshops. Instead, they occur at a specific chapter’s request. SAE President Grant Mueller ’17 said his chapter’s new members participate in CCE workshops, and SigEp President Amin Mirzadegan ’17 said his members participate in workshops with both the CCEs and the Sexual Literacy Forum (SeLF). Alpha Delta Phi president Henry Guild ’17 wrote in an email that his chapter has “not been contacted by anyone from CCE regarding Greek-specific workshops,” but would “be very excited to partake in them in the future.”
The leadership of Delta Kappa Epsilon did not respond to requests for comment and Zeta Psi declined requests. With the exception of Kappa Alpha Theta, the leadership of Yale’s NPCaffiliated sororities declined comment as well, citing national media regulations. Jessica Leão ’16, president of Theta, did say that her organization hosts frequent internal talks about Yale’s sexual climate and hookup culture. “We always cosponsor Take Back the Night, and basically everyone in our sorority is there,” she said. Members of Theta, Sig Nu and Chi Psi said that their members who are CCEs have helped facilitate internal, informal conversations about the sexual climate as well. Cook said they generally hold a chapter-wide discussion at the beginning of the year. “I think there’s something to be said about having a conversation [about this issue] with someone who’s part of your community already,” he said. However, Boyd noted that these discussions are not unique to Greek organizations, writing: “Individual CCEs almost always work with groups of which they are already a part.” Dean Howard said he and his colleagues have facilitated discussions with chapters and individual members regarding hosting, risk management and bystander intervention. Referencing the AAU report, he added that he is hoping to gather Greek leaders “to talk more about their relationship with the city and to see what we can work on in relation to what we’ve learned about Yale’s sexual climate.” In the wake of Halloween weekend’s SAE incident, women of color have demanded that Yale listen to their voices and their accounts of feeling unsafe. National statistics show that women of color are disproportionately at risk of sexual violence, as are people of nonbinary gender identities, Price noted. She says USAY intends to address this: “With any social justice issue, you have to foreground and put the most marginalized voices first.
ecognizing their role as facilitators of the social scene, certain fraternities and sororities at Yale have claimed a voice in the conversation. Nationally, however, the tactics of these same fraternities and sororities have faced significant criticism. Since its introduction, the Safe Campus Act has persistently made headlines. But on Yale’s campus, Greek-affiliated students paying dues to organizations that support it largely differed in their opinions on how to combat sexual assault. Yet Greek chapters on Yale’s campus have not felt a pressing need to comment on this disconnect. Instead, those that have chosen to address sexual assault issues have done so like other student groups, with workshops and discussions. The effectiveness of these efforts — and whether the disconnect between national and chapter wings of Greek organizations will result in further tension as news of the Safe Campus Act spreads — remain unclear.
Cortisone Shot by Lillie Lainoff The needle goes in just a bit further. Now this is the painful part. The joint is small, very small. You’ll feel some pressure. Bones weren’t meant to be touched. That’s why they’re covered with fibers, skin, nail marks like guitar strings. If they weren’t then we’d all be skeletons of ourselves, breaths would get caught between larynx and spongy spinal cord. Knuckles would crack like warm ice. No, bones weren’t meant to be touched. And you know you know this because your muscles are no longer muscles but fossilized rock. It is not like when someone presses his palm to yours, it is deep under layers of tissue and fat cells and stuffed blood veins. The pressure is from within, as if created by your own organs, and suddenly you hate yourself more than you ever have before. Yale Daily News Magazine | 19
GENTRIFICATION IN NEW HAVEN, 2000-2014 by Brady Currey graphic by Ellie Handler
very year, the U.S. Census Bureau releases an American Community Survey, allowing us to take a closer look at where, and how, the demographics of New Haven are changing. Building off of work done by the Urban Social Processes Workshop at Harvard and the geographer Elvin Wyly, I used the 2014 survey to take a look at some of the variables that try to capture gentrification — the process by which higher-income people buy property in neighborhoods, raising property values but displacing lower-income residents. Generally, there are two ways to look at gentrification. Social determinants, like the proportion of residents with a college degree or a white-collar job, allow us to look at the changes in the types of people who live in each neighborhood. Economic determinants, like changes in median household income, rent and house value, can suggest displacement, as residents are forced to move due to an increase in the cost of living. The Census Bureau divides New Haven into 28 “tracts.” For this project, I looked at the change in each tract of both social and economic determinants between 2000 and 2014, then comparing each to the average change across the entire city, creating a kind of test for gentrification. Areas where social determinants (percent of residents with college degrees and professional jobs) are increasing at least 10 percent faster than the citywide average are colored in yellow. Areas where economic determinants (median income, rent and house value) are increasing at least 10 percent faster than the citywide average are colored in blue. Areas that passed both of these tests are shown in green.
20 | November 2015
Looking at the map, we can see that the East Rock neighborhood (Tracts 1418 and 1421) shows the most evidence of a demographic shift, demonstrating a faster rise in both land value and social status than the rest of New Haven. This makes intuitive sense — as Yale expands, it’s become a more attractive place to live for Yale’s grad students and professors, who likely drive the neighborhood’s continued change. We also see evidence of the continued emergence of professional communities. While the total number of people with professional jobs in New Haven has increased by only 1 percent, the downtown area (Tract 1401) has had its professional population increase by 20 percent since 2000 — now, 74 percent of all people who live there hold white-collar jobs. The area around the School of Medicine (Tract 1403) has seen a similarly meteoric rise, increasing its professional fraction by 13 percent since 2000 to a current value of 27 percent. A blanket analysis like this can miss some of the nuances of gentrification. Take the case of Newhallville (Tract 1415), which isn’t colored on the map. The median household income has stayed at $31,000 since 2000, while the median monthly rent has increased by $300, at the same rate as the rest of the city. Thus, while wealthier people haven’t been moving into the district, land values have gone up. This places a clear burden on the neighborhood’s renters, who have seen their real income decrease. There’s no perfect way to measure and define gentrification, but this analysis is a good surface look at the neighborhoods in which the face of the city has transformed most over the last decade and a half.
Social determinants growing at least 10% faster than citywide average Economic determinants growing at least 10% faster than citywide average Both social and economic determinants growing at least 10% faster than citywide average
Yale Daily News Magazine | 21
22 | November 2015
The Myth of the Dumb Jock by Maya Sweedler photography by Elinor Hills
ith 836 names listed on 33 varsity rosters, athletes make up just under 15 percent of the Yale student body. Yet even though they represent such a sizable portion of Yale’s population, these students often find themselves greatly mischaracterized. Yale athletics — like Ivy League athletics in general — are anachronistic in the world of college sports, a world in which Big 12 football head coaches earn $5 million a year and Pac12 student-athletes seek payment for the use of their likenesses. As any Yale student-athlete can confirm, the experiences of deified SEC football players or Big Ten basketball players are a far cry from those of the Ivy League athlete. Being a student-athlete at Yale, the athletes themselves say, means balancing classes with a time commitment equivalent to a full-time job. But every athlete interviewed for this article made at least some mention of a perception
among the rest of the student body that they were somehow undeserving of their spots here. Indeed, in a News survey conducted for this article — responded to by 44 percent of Yale’s entire varsity student-athlete population — 33 percent of all respondents reported that they felt athletes were either not respected or actively disrespected by fellow students. Last April, a close friend of mine on one of Yale’s varsity teams turned to me as we sat talking on Cross Campus one afternoon. “For the first time in my life,” she admitted, “I feel like a dumb jock.”
ach year, approximately 11 percent of the incoming freshman class is made up of recruited athletes, with the remaining 4 percent considered to be walk-ons. Per Ivy League rules, recruits are offered neither guaranteed admission to Yale nor scholarships.
Coaches may offer conditional offers of support, pending a holistic review by the admissions office, but no money. As a result, members of the Ivy League are at a significant relative disadvantage to other Division I schools that can offer money to recruited athletes. Despite that disadvantage, though, 59 percent of respondents to the News survey said they turned down scholarship offers from other Division I schools to attend Yale. “On all of the rosters for each team, in the player biographies, it says ‘Why Yale?’” says Jessica Smith, who wished to remain anonymous due to the small size of her team. “I’ve never read one that says I came here for the sport. It says I came here for the people, I came here for the name, I came here for the institution and the learning that takes place here.” When student-athletes choose to matriculate at Yale, they are most likely thinking beyond their careers as collegiate athletes. Football head coach Tony Reno
Yale Daily News Magazine | 23
feature points out that Yale offers something different from other schools: a chance to compete at a Division I level as well as “the best education in the world.” “You set yourself up for the next 60 years of your life when you come out of Yale,” Reno says. “At some of these other schools, it’s a short-term solution. You play for four years, maybe five years, and after that the degree isn’t quite what Yale’s is.” With a few notable exceptions, such as crew, sailing, men’s ice hockey and men’s lacrosse, Yale teams are not competitive on a national level. A few recently graduated Bulldogs have found success in rowing, fencing and football, but for every NFL player like Tyler Varga ’15 or two-time Olympic fencer Sada Jacobson ’06, there are dozens of student-athletes whose athletic careers end at graduation.
espite their lack of professional sports aspirations, though, most Bulldogs train the same number of hours as high-powered Division I programs. “I think at any level of football in college, it’s going to take the same amount of time commitment,” says Bo Hines ’18, a wide receiver on the football team. “I would just say that the emphasis on academics is a lot greater here.” Drawn to Yale’s academic opportunities, Hines recently transferred from a toptier Football Bowl Subdivision program at North Carolina State. Hines says the intellectual atmosphere of Yale has marked the biggest change between the two schools. At NC State, he says, players can be tied to their “football identities,”a type of celebrity that links someone’s performance on the field to their on-campus presence. Some players, he explains, can never leave their football identity behind and actually become students. Everywhere they go, people want pictures or autographs. “I think one of the nice things here about Yale is that it’s truly one of the last institutions where, at least in the football atmosphere, you are a true student-athlete,” Hines says. “And you can leave what’s on the football field on the football field, and once you step on campus, it’s actually nice 24 | November 2015
to be a student for once. No one’s focused on your abilities as an athlete, they’re focused on your abilities as a student, and I think that’s something that a lot of the guys cherish.” But some student-athletes feel they are not treated equally in the classroom. In fact, several students feel the opposite is true: rather than earning respect for their accomplishments on the field, they are assumed to be academically weaker.
“WE HAVE TO FIGHT WITH THE ADMINISTRATION TO BE SEEN AS FELLOW STUDENTS.” “There is sometimes a lack of respect for athletes on campus,” Caroline Lynch ’17, co-president of the Yale Student Athlete College Council and a member of the women’s tennis team, says. Lynch believes this is based on two assumptions: first, that student-athletes did not gain admission to Yale based on their own merit, and second, that their athletic talents preclude them from academic success. Smith, for one, argues against the first assumption. “It’s not that athletes are somehow part of the pool of people that applied but aren’t qualified,” she says. “Athletics just moves us into the pool that gets selected. To resent people who are athletes for that movement is to say that, somehow, spending 30 hours per week playing a sport is not as worthwhile as holding a job, doing community service and playing the piano.” Adding that many student-athletes participate in a variety of activities beyond their sports, Smith pointed out the claim that athletes’ path to Yale is somehow “less legitimate” is not logical. And as for the second assumption, a survey Smith conducted in the fall of 2014 for a statistics class discovered that among 153 students — with 93 athletes responding — there was no significant difference between the self-reported GPAs of athletes and non-athletes.
The prevailing misconception of the “dumb jock,” though statistically unsupported, is still pervasive, and not just among non-athletes. In the same study conducted by Smith, the average athlete at Yale rated his or her individual commitment to schoolwork higher than what he or she guessed the “average athlete” dedicates to academics. “Perhaps that’s a sign that the average athlete has kind of absorbed this perception of the athlete that’s put onto us by the prevailing student culture,” Smith says, “where the athlete’s contributions are devalued.”
hile many student-athletes say they’ve noticed a positive shift in students’ perception of Yale Athletics, aided in large part by the recent successes of high-profile teams like men’s ice hockey, volleyball, football and men’s basketball, they stress there is still work to be done. Last year, 11 current or former Yalies won Rhodes and Marshall scholarships, and five of our teams won Ivy League championships. The scholarship winners were announced via schoolwide emails and an article on YaleNews; the championship wins could be found only in Yale Athletics’ “Year in Review” booklet. “I thought [freshman year], and still think now, that overall Yale students have respect for student-athletes in the way that they feel they have to respect all students,” says Chandler Gregoire ’17, a member of the reigning national champion sailing team. “But they do not understand the sacrifices we make.” Other athletes echo Gregoire’s thoughts, noting that non-athlete friends and suitemates are simultaneously supportive of and oblivious to their hard work. But others propose another hypothesis for the athlete/non-athlete disconnect: a lack of support coming not from the ground up, but from the top down. “We have to fight with the administration to be seen as fellow students,” Gregoire says. “I think Yale’s administration tries to bridge the gap between students and student-athletes by
feature not offering special privileges to athletes that may cause students to feel resentment toward student-athletes. That said, there are special needs of athletes that need to be considered that the administration fails to do so.” Gregoire sees two issues, both of which are echoed by members of other teams: First, athletes are precluded from majors that have required classes with meetings in the afternoon. Second, athletes struggle to meet with professors outside of class, as most student-athletes cannot attend afternoon office hours and instead must find time to meet with professors beyond them. As a result, athletes drift toward the more flexible majors at Yale. While 8.8 percent of the classes of 2016 and 2017 are political science majors, 16.5 percent of declared athletes are. Much of the major’s appeal stems from its wide selection of courses, several athletes say, plus the range of times at which these courses were offered. Other schools, including fellow Ivy League institutions, have worked to solve these issues. Cornell, for example, has a three-hour academic “free period” every afternoon in which no formal undergraduate classes can meet, which ensures that sports teams can hold practice without conflicting with classes. Columbia allows its athletes to preregister so they have a higher chance of getting into the classes they need. Gregoire, a psychology major, originally wanted to do Theater Studies. However, since she cannot take a class that ends after 2:20 p.m., she was unable to take prerequisite courses for her major. “These classes and seminars are often necessary to our major,” Gregoire says of afternoon classes. “So, I would love to see more flexibility and changes in class times, office hours that take into account athletes’ schedules, and preregistration for athletes.” Despite these structural difficulties, some players do find huge support in individual professors and teaching fellows. Jon Bezney ’18, an offensive guard on the football team, says he has found his teachers and teaching fellows to be
HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED QUITTING YOUR SPORT? NO
YES Sport (# of respondents)
Field Hockey (7) 77
Basketball (13) 67
Football (24) 60
Soccer (25) 56
Tennis (9) 50
Golf (2) 46
Crew (any) (50)
Cross Country (23)
Swimming & Diving (37) 36
Fencing (14) 32
Lacrosse (22) 29
Sailing (any) (14) 25
Softball (12) Track & Field (28)
Ice Hockey (18)
Squash (10) 17
Baseball (6) (0) Volleyball (9)
graphic by Samuel Wang surprisingly helpful and accommodating. Bezney currently plans to fulfill premed requirements as an ecology and evolutionary biology major. “I was expecting it very much to be like, oh, you’re going to have to work extra hard to get these extra tutors, but really they want you to succeed,” he says. “So that was the biggest surprise for me.” Though 92 percent of student-athletes who responded to the News survey said they did not believe they were given special privileges in regards to student services, there do exist certain measures to help Yale athletes. Varsity athletes competing at away games can always get dean’s excuses, and the Office of Career Strategy provides a counselor for special walk-in hours in Payne Whitney Gymnasium on Friday afternoons because most athletes cannot attend regular OCS hours. But these measures do not help athletes who wish to partake in non-academic traditions. Spring Fling is the most obvious example, as many members of spring sports will be competing during the Saturday concert. This year, after 84 percent of the student body selected Saturday as the date for the second year in a row, the Yale College
Council sent out a follow-up survey containing statements from YSACC and Yale Hillel explaining how the two groups were impacted by a Saturday Spring Fling. “We compete for Yale nearly every weekend of the year,” Gregoire pleads. “Please let us celebrate with Yale, as well.”
pring Fling is among the most obvious examples of the sacrifices athletes make in order to compete for Yale, but it represents just one day out of the year. Yale’s student-athletes give up their time for entire seasons, and while it is easy to quantify sacrifice with blanket statements like “five hours a day” or “30 hours a week,” these statements fail to fully capture the opportunity cost. For every morning lift followed by afternoon practice, every bus ride out to the Smilow Field Center, every weekend doubleheader, there is something a student must leave by the wayside. Sometimes those opportunity costs add up. Though few athletes actually quit their sport, 42 percent of student-athletes who responded to the News survey reported that they have considered it. The number of athletes who have considered quitting their sport varies Yale Daily News Magazine | 25
Go online to yaledailynews. com/blog/ category/mag/ for exclusive audio content by Sarah DiMagno
dramatically by sport. Field hockey, basketball and football reported the highest rates at 85.7, 76.9 and 66.7 percent, respectively. Volleyball, baseball and squash had the lowest percentage of athletes who thought about quitting at 0, 16 and 20 percent, respectively. Though two-thirds of its members said they had thought about quitting, the football team boasts a remarkably low attrition rate. The team, which is allocated 120 spots for recruits every four years, currently lists 109 names on the roster. “I think … every football player has thought about quitting the football team at one point. It has crossed their mind, period,” Bezney says. “And if it hasn’t, then you haven’t really been pushed or you haven’t really been giving it your all. There are times, like at camp, where you’re literally living football all day, and because of the monotony of it, it has crossed my mind. But I would never carry it out.” Shannon Conneely ’16, a midfielder on the soccer team, says that though it can be difficult to balance soccer and schoolwork, she is proud to represent Yale. “Most of the student athletes at Yale have been making sacrifices their entire lives for the sports that they love, and that has continued at Yale,” Conneely says. “Ultimately, I love my teammates and I love soccer … It’s not really a sacrifice.”
he bonds formed within teams and within the athletic community as a whole have led to a final stereotype:
26 | November 2015
that athletes are insular. The claim is not totally unfounded, as 40 percent of student-athletes who responded to the News survey said that, when not with their teams, they spend the majority of time with other athletes. Some teams have taken steps to address this perceived separation. Under Coach Reno, for example, the football team is trying to integrate more fully into the Yale community. Players are required to live on campus their first three years — as opposed to two for typical Yale undergraduates — and many are encouraged to go out to Old Campus on move-in day to welcome freshmen and hand out shirts with the dates of the season’s home games. “We’re trying to get people to come out to the games, we’re trying to interact and we’re trying to really mend the bond between the average student and not just football players but athletes as well,” Hines says. “We want to know about the extracurriculars of a normal student at Yale, and we’d like to share what our extracurriculars are like as athletes.” But it takes more than talking about stereotypes to overcome them. When almost a third of athletes feel either disrespected or not respected, something is missing. Throughout the course of interviewing these student-athletes, almost a dozen solutions were tossed around: increasing attendance at games, incentivizing engagement with athletes, encouraging athletes to attend other student performances. In the meantime, Yale’s studentathletes will continue doing what they do: waking up early, scheduling classes and section around practice and, every weekend, pulling on navy-blue and white jerseys. “We carry the label of athlete wherever we go, regardless of what we’re doing,” Smith says. “It can be a blessing but it can also be a burden.” Sarah DiMagno contributed reporting.
SHE IS NOT MINE by Ivy Nyayieka photography by Alexis Inguaggiato
irls leave boys all the time. When Shiku said she was leaving me, I cleared my throat and said, “Leave the keys on the windowsill, next to the vase.” I should have said more. I should have told her that I would miss turning her omelet over without breaking it. I should have told her that I would miss lying on the sofa and watching reruns of About a Boy together. I should have told her that I go around taking a little of my soul, and using it to fill the spaces in other people’s souls, like putty on a windowsill, and that she was one of the souls I was filling. I should have told her that she was beautiful, but I knew she did not need to hear it from me. I saw bubbles of Shiku’s soul floating in the room, and I needed to tell her something that would make all of her bubbles come together and be her, and stay. It feels, sometimes, like I am in a room. It is not dark. The sunlight illuminates it, but not in the bright and yellow kind of way. There is daylight. And Shiku is there, inside the room. And I can see her. I have memorized her. I know that she smiles more on one half of her face. I know that when she walks, her left leg trails her right; she slides it forward rather than lifts it. I know that she has a black beauty spot below her eye. In this room that is not dark, I see her, and I stretch my hand out to touch her. I hold her cheeks in my palms. I tell her that I love her, but my lips do not move, and there are tongues, ten of them, at the tips of my fingers, saying, “I love you,” ten times, like echoes of each other. I want my fingers to pass through Shiku’s cheeks, through h e r Yale Daily News Magazine | 27
jawbones, through her teeth, through her tongue. I want my hands to cradle her lungs and her veins and her heart. I want her skin to become transparent to me, to part when I touch it the way jelly parts when you dip your fingers in it, so that I can see her. So that I can really see her. I am always trying to find her — Shiku. I am always trying to get her to tell me about the games she played as a child, about the first friend she made in high school, about what makes her happy. She is always there, has always been for the past two years. But she is not really there. It is like she lives inside herself. She lies on the bed, and faces the window, and bends her legs at her knees and her hands at her elbows so that she is as small as she can be, and I could mistake her for a shirt I removed after leaving the gym and crumpled up and threw on the bed. What I want is to be let into this life she lives inside of herself. I am out of stories to share with her about my own. Every night, before we go to bed, I tell her stories about my day and about the days before my today, and even about the untruths I have built up about my future. Mostly she “hmm”s me on. Sometimes, she tucks her tongue in her left cheek, and directs her face my way, but doesn’t really look at me, like she no longer agrees with what I am saying. Sometimes, she laughs. She laughs more often than I expect. But what she tells me about herself comes in small doses. Like the syrup my friends and I would suck out of orange trumpet flowers as children, it is little and it is gone before I can savor it. The other day, I noted to her that she speaks less of her childhood best friend Michelle nowadays. I wanted to show that I listen. She said that her Michelle died. Shiku does not tell me things and so I have time to tell her even the smallest details about my life. One day, I told 28 | November 2015
“I am always trying to find her — Shiku.”
Shiku about the skipping rope a classmate brought to Calculus. She told me she had bought a skipping rope that weekend, for her niece, whom I did not know she had, who was the daughter of her sister, Njeri, whom I also did not know she had. That day, I stayed silent, afraid that if I interrupted, which I am good at doing, she would keep quiet and I would never reach her again. She went on and on, and it felt like that moment when the computer stops telling you to press numbers and allows you to speak to a customer service assistant. I could never come up with a formula for what would make Shiku say more than two sentences to me. A skipping rope, can you imagine? Shiku spoke into the night. She told me about her father, whom she was “not too close to.” I felt bad for him. I could not imagine how little he knew about his perfect daughter. She told me about her ex-boyfriend, and if it were any other girl, I would not want to hear about him. But this was Shiku, and when she spoke I imagined purple butterflies leaving her mouth. I had to catch them without hurting them. Sometimes, when I walk around the city center, I see girls with black beauty spots below their eyes. And their eyes bore through me. I know I am supposed to turn away, but I look and look and look. I imagine that their eyes and Shiku’s have seen different things, but they come from the same place. A forest clearing where the backs of eyes sit cross-legged in a circle around a fire on a cold night. They are taught not to just sit there but to hold close to their bosoms with their shivering hands the things they have seen. To not let anyone see them. They are taught that the rest of the world should not know what they know. When Shiku said she was leaving, and I told her to leave the keys on the
windowsill, next to the vase, I went to bed. Shiku has tried to leave so many times that at some point, I numbed myself to it. She is not mine. It pains me. Sometimes it angers me. It is the kind of anger that comes to you as a child when you are picked last to join a team when playing kati. You are angry, but you know everyone has the right to choose. She is not mine, but I wish she were. The usual things went through my mind. Like how I really do not want to be the one to beg the other to stay again. Like how I could leave her and go around filling other people’s souls with some of my own until there is none of me left to miss her. Like how I am already missing her. Like how I am scared she may pull it off — she may be alright without me. Then I thought of the good stuff. Like how maybe she loves me. She must, because that night she woke me up at 3 a.m. and told me she loved me and I should not leave her, and then she placed her cheeks on my shoulders and I felt the tears against my shoulder blades. And how we were having dinner with her friends and laughing and they teased her to say who her favorite person in the world was, and she said me, and she looked at me just in time to see the look of surprise on my face. She knew I wouldn’t mind if she picked someone else — she was not the type of person to care if I did mind, and here she was, without a gun to her head, choosing me. It felt good to be chosen. I want to fight for her, but I am so so so tired of begging her soul to be with mine. Instead, I felt tears in my eyes, and I let them be, hoping I could clean myself up before she came back into the room, now dark with the onset of twilight, and switched on the lights. She did not switch on the lights. She slid into bed next to me, and I held her, and that night again, I tried to find her.
RETURN by TERESA CHEN illustration by HANNAH KAZIS-TAYLOR
ou must visit this garden,” my grandmother said. As usual, she spoke in Taishanese and I responded in English. I could imagine her sitting on her wobbly kitchen stool, one hand clamping the phone to her ear, the other holding up her copy of The World Journal to the dingy light. At the corner of Prospect and Divinity streets, the garden that my grandmother mentioned was only a 20-minute walk from my room on Old Campus. The gardeners, mainly Chinese, had a successful harvest — my grandmother wanted me to find the secret of their success. My grandmother reads local stories written in Chinese religiously. When she has company over, she tsks at noteworthy articles and interrupts conversations to recap — in Taishanese — a story. And when she is alone, which is often, she carefully cuts out pieces of the paper and stores them in a kitchen drawer for later. The last time I visited her, the drawer was filled to the brim. Before hanging up, I lied and promised to visit.
wo weeks later, on a run up Science Hill, I happened to find the garden. As I sat
across the street on a bench to catch my breath, a child walking nearby turned to his mother. “It’s a garden full of garbage,” he said, pointing to a plot of empty gallons enclosed by a fence of cardboard. It looked just like my grandmother’s garden. To the untrained eye, it was an ugly sight. Whenever I visited my grandmother, she always put me to work in the garden — pulling out the weeds, refilling the watering can. I emerged covered in sweat and mosquito bites. Once, I asked her why she insisted on growing vegetables, when I knew she had come to America to leave her rural upbringing. She smiled and told me it reminded her of home. At the time, I dismissed her answer. It was everything that I was ashamed of: my grandmother’s color-uncoordinated outfits, the way she called me “Elisa” instead of “Teresa” because she couldn’t pronounce the “T,” and her stubborn hold on Chinese culture. I climbed over the garden’s cardboard fence. Gnarled wooden trellises stood together like teepees. Under layers of yellowing leaves, wrinkled green peppers bunched together like bananas dangled from wooden poles. Fuzzy bitter melons and stalks of chives poked up from the dirt. I knew from my
grandmother that these vegetables were staples of Chinese cuisine. The pungent odor of tiger balm hit my nostrils, and I thought of her. My grandmother never used insecticides — instead, she lathered herself in tiger balm before heading out to tend the garden. It was a smell that I grew up hating because it lingered on my clothes for days, and my classmates would wrinkle their noses at me. I followed the smell to the source, stepping further into the garden. An elderly Chinese woman in an old straw hat squatted over a plot of chives, hacking them with a knife before throwing them into a plastic bag. “Ni hao,” I said nervously, when she turned around. Her glare made me feel as if I were trespassing. I tried to smile. “Gu niang,” she finally responded, then asking in Mandarin, “Why are you wearing those shoes in the garden?” She threw me a pair of plastic sliders and smiled, the golden caps on her teeth flashing in the sunlight. I slipped on the shoes. As I watched her hack the chives, the woman told me she had been tending the garden for over five years. When she realized that I could hardly speak Chinese, she laughed, then switched over to Yale Daily News Magazine | 29
personal essay broken English. “My name is Mrs. Zhang. I am sixty-five. I am from Beijing, in the Republic of China. I live here for six years,” she said with a mocking salute. I laughed. Those were the only sentences she could speak in English, besides one other: “No speak English.” When I was little, my grandmother often took me on walks around her neighborhood. Whenever neighbors would approach us to say hello, she would quickly wave her hand over her mouth as if swatting a fly, say, “No speak English, no speak English,”
and turn the other way. I used to think it was funny, and laughed whenever she did it. Later, when I was older, I became embarrassed and told her to stop. Now, hearing the same words from Mrs. Zhang, I thought it was endearing, in the way that all old ladies are. Mrs. Zhang gave me a tour of the garden, which spanned a full city block, much bigger than my grandmother’s cramped backyard plot. The garden used to be an empty lot overgrown with weeds, but 10 years ago, the Chinese community living in the Prospect
Gardens apartment complex decided to transform it. It was divided evenly into 81 plots, one for each of the 81 apartments in the complex. When I visited, each plot of soil was filled with summer vegetables. Unlike my grandmother, Mrs. Zhang had never farmed before coming to America. “It was impossible in Beijing,” she told me. “There’s no farmland in the city. I learned to farm by myself.” She showed me her tools: a spatula duct-taped to a mop handle used as a makeshift hoe and a
“ Gu niang,” she finally responded, then asking in Mandarin, “Why are you wearing those shoes in the garden?”
30 | November 2015
personal essay deconstructed stroller used to hold huge containers of water. They worked fine, she said. Fifteen minutes later, she invited me to visit her apartment. This would’ve been what my mother would call “strangerdanger,” everything she taught me never to do as a child, but I agreed anyway. After a quick loop around the plots, Mrs. Zhang filled a few plastic bags with fresh chives, and I took them from her as we crossed the street, her hand tugging mine.
rs. Zhang’s kitchen was small and cluttered. With both of us standing backto-back, my stomach grazed the kitchen counter. A clothesline stretched the length of the kitchen, with an array of woks and pans dangling precariously from plastic hooks. When she started to cook dinner, the running water, the rummaging through kitchen drawers and the clanging of pots and pans sounded almost melodic. “Everything is handmade and grown here, except for the meat I bought at the supermarket,” she said. As she spoke, she chopped up the chives, each satisfying crunch of the knife hitting the chopping board and sending a burst of earthy aroma into the air. I watched as Mrs. Zhang mixed the chives into the dumpling batter, plopped generous scoops onto rice flour, and then twisted the dough to wrap them up. In the time it took her to make five dumplings, I had finished one that instantly fell apart when I set it on the platter. She tsked, and I let her take over. Every so often, she stopped to wipe flour from her fingers, sprinkling loose clumps all over the kitchen counter. As Mrs. Zhang worked, she spoke. I learned about her health problems and how gardening had healed her, about her daughter and
how proud she was of her, about her life back in Beijing and how much she missed it. I asked Mrs. Zhang how it felt to live alone. She smiled. “It gets very lonely in here,” she said. “My daughter doesn’t have free time to spend with me. She’s doing research in the lab from 7 in the morning to 7 at night, and she doesn’t come home for dinner often. But it’s okay, because I know she works very hard, and has her own life.”
Mrs. Zhang often spends her time waiting for her daughter to come home. It is like this for most of the Chinese families that live in the Prospect Gardens apartments, Mrs. Zhang explained. When students from China come to New Haven for graduate school, she said, their parents often move with them to provide emotional support. Traditional Confucian beliefs hold that family is most important to success. A child should never be alone in his journey. This is completely different from the Western idea I grew up with, that higher education was meant to be a time for students to discover themselves on their own. Mrs. Zhang often spends her time waiting for her daughter to come home. When we sat down for dinner, Mrs. Zhang filled my plate with dumplings. “You must miss Chinese food a lot!” she said, beaming. I devoured my meal. I noticed while I ate how she glanced out the window from time
to time, often in mid-sentence, her words trailing off as her eyes moved. After dinner, she left uneaten dumplings sitting on the table for her daughter, covered carefully with a layer of aluminum foil to keep them warm. My grandmother always cooked for more than one, in the hopes that I would keep my promise of coming over and eating dinner with her. When I didn’t come, she would place the dishes in the fridge, in case I wanted to eat them later. Usually, she’d end up having to throw them out. As I imagined Mrs. Zhang eating alone at her kitchen counter, picking at the feast she had prepared, I couldn’t distinguish between her and my grandmother. It felt wrong to assume a life for a woman I didn’t know, but I couldn’t help it. I envisioned for Mrs. Zhang all the sacrifices my grandmother had made, the comforts of her village home for a small space in Brooklyn where no one speaks Taishanese. I envisioned a granddaughter who doesn’t visit, who twists away from hugs. I envisioned a similar loneliness.
n a matter of ten minutes, the sky turned navy blue. I felt an urge to hug Mrs. Zhang as I said goodbye. “Zai jian Zhang da ma,” I said, and she smiled. “I’m so happy you stopped by, and I want you to know that this is your home too,” she said. She clasped my hands and shook them, a sign of affection, then she added, “Please, call me Nainai.” The Mandarin word for grandmother.
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32 | November 2015
In and Out A Revolving Door for Yale’s Professors of Color?
by Alex Zhang photography by Elinor Hills
ou know what I would like to see?” Yale history professor Beverly Gage ’94 asks from her desk one warm October afternoon. “The John C. Calhoun Faculty Diversity Initiative.” Laughing, she explains: “To translate [this conversation about race at Yale] into not just renaming a college but actually looking at Yale today and turning it around and doing something big.” Gage is no stranger to calls for increased faculty diversity at Yale. She’s witnessed them across three decades — first as a Yale undergraduate in
the early 1990s, then as a new professor in the mid-2000s, and now as chair of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate, a representative body of 22 professors that meets monthly to address a wide range of faculty issues. And she’s seen many of her colleagues leave despite these calls. “Most of the junior faculty of color that have been here during my time in the History Department have left, for one reason or another,” she says. Gage, along with many other professors, cites systemic reasons for why so many minority faculty leave: the University’s lengthy tenure clock, suspicions that certain academic fields historically dominated by minority
faculty are undervalued, and an overburdening of minority faculty with service and mentoring responsibilities. On Nov. 3, 2015, Yale announced a new initiative, providing $50 million over the next five years to support the recruitment and development of an “excellent and diverse faculty.” Gage is hopeful, saying in an email, “It seems great. Just the kind of leadership and resources we need.” But with heightening student demand for faculty diversity and the $50 million plan still in development, the onus may be greater than ever on Yale to prove that there are more reasons for minority faculty to come in Yale Daily News Magazine | 33
Allen jokes, “I knew I wasn’t coming to Audre Lorde University in the Department of Bayard Rustin.” than to go out.
afari Allen, an African-American professor of anthropology, didn’t have any illusions about where he’d decided to work when he arrived at Yale seven years ago. Referencing two 20th-century civil rights activists, Allen jokes, “I knew I wasn’t coming to Audre Lorde University in the Department of Bayard Rustin.” Allen recently announced he will be leaving Yale for the University of Miami at the end of this year. He maintains that “Yale has all in all been an awesome experience,” not the “soul-crushing place” that professors at other schools warned him it would be. He doesn’t feel at all that he was forced out. But, he says, “My experience has been an experience of always having to raise particular issues and to push particular conversations.” “When I thought about what my life would be like as a full professor here,” Allen says, “the thing that came to mind most acutely was that I would be constantly fighting for the same things that [other professors] had been fighting for, however many years before.” This fight can take its toll on professors, says Birgit Brander Rasmussen, an American Studies professor. “There is something incredibly sad and demoralizing about seeing people leave over and over and over again because all these lines have to be fought for,” she says. “It’s expensive, and it takes a lot of time and energy.” 34 | November 2015
In a Yale Daily News column published on Oct. 16, Richard Bribiescas, deputy provost for faculty development and diversity, and Tamar Gendler, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, wrote: “Despite our efforts, the natural ebb and flow of faculty will result in departures. However departures that are hastened by campus-climate issues or weaknesses in faculty development are unacceptable.” Allen keeps a mental list of black professors — “world-class scholars,” he says — who are planning to leave or who have left Yale in recent years, some after receiving tenure and others well before receiving it. He names Sean Brotherton, Alondra Nelson, Kamari Clarke, GerShun Avilez, Marcus Hunter, and Vanessa Agard-Jones ’00, among others. To him, their departures suggest that natural ebb and flow is not a “generative or progressive” way to read the University’s minority faculty retention problem. “The ebb and flow of individual careers is conditioned by the possibilities that particular institutions create,” Allen says. “So one way to read [my departure] is: ‘Jafari is a Caribbeanist; [at Miami] Jafari will be three feet from the Caribbean.’ Okay, that’s cool. But if we also believe the other rhetoric that Yale is the best institution in the world, and has the best resources, and has the best students in the world, why would Jafari leave?” “The common denominator here,” Allen continues, “is this institution.”
y our count, this is the 18th Yale Committee, since 1968, to report on the recruitment of minority or women faculty.” Thus begins the 1991 Jaynes Report, released by a committee headed by economics and African American Studies professor Gerald Jaynes as an update on recommendations made in another report filed just two years earlier. The Jaynes Report continues: “Almost every major item contained in the present report has been proposed, in some form or another, by one or more of the previous committees.” The history of faculty diversity initiatives at Yale spans more than four decades. The passage of the Education Amendments of 1972 pushed Yale to create an Office of Affirmative Action. Soon afterward, the office began monitoring hiring and tenuring practices of the University, convening various committees to discuss diversity issues. In one of the earlier reports on faculty diversity, released in 1989, faculty members recommended setting quotas for the hiring of minority professors and giving hiring power to Ethnic Studies programs, calling for an increase in minority faculty from 7 percent to 14 percent over 10 years. Additionally, the report called for a formal mentoring system, competitive responses to outside job offers and additional compensation for minority faculty overburdened with committee assignments because of administrative
cover efforts to diversify committees. Twenty-six years later, on a fall morning this year, a bulletin board-sized poster condemning Yale’s lack of minority faculty appeared on Cross Campus. With graphs displaying a stark disparity between the percentage of minority undergraduates (42 percent) and the percentage of minority professors in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (17 percent), the poster declares the University has only seen a “1 percent average increase in black faculty per century.” It ends: “Your move, Yale.”
n 2005, former Yale President Richard Levin set a goal of adding at least 30 minority faculty over the next seven years. By 2011, he’d reached that goal, having hired 56. Jaynes, the African-American professor who chaired the 1991 faculty diversity committee, believes that since his committee filed its report, “there’s been a lot of progress” toward recruiting a diverse faculty. One of the first major efforts came in 1989, when Yale began offering Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowships to encourage minority undergraduates to enter academic careers. President Levin would later expand that effort in 1994, inaugurating a Yale-specific program, the Edward A. Bouchet Fellowship, named after the University’s first AfricanAmerican graduate. A major impetus for change on the hiring level, Jaynes says, came when Levin’s predecessor Benno Schmidt took faculty advice and allowed departments to hire “outstanding minority candidates” even when they had no faculty spots officially open. Recent faculty diversity initiatives have attempted to expand beyond hiring. Two years ago, the Provost’s Office created a new mentoring program for junior faculty. And in 2014, the University appointed anthropology professor Richard Bribiescas as the first ever deputy provost for faculty development and diversity, placing responsibility for advising the Provost on diversity strategies into one
centralized office. Bribiescas, whose responsibilities include monitoring faculty searches and training promotion committees to combat implicit biases, says he and his office have been working hard with deans and other members of Yale’s leadership to “make sure that our campus community is welcoming and inclusive.” Bribiescas writes in an email: “We are saddened whenever a faculty member makes the deeply personal decision to pursue their career elsewhere and wish them nothing but continued success. However, we are equally delighted by the continual addition of new faculty who add new diverse voices to the Yale community. Does this mean our work is done? Of course not.” Part of the work, Gendler says, involves reminding professors who have outside job offers of “the ways in which Yale can provide them a unique opportunity to interact with colleagues and students” with the “chance to do the kinds of research and teaching that Yale supports.” “We try to do that,” she continues, “in a way that [professors] aren’t forced to make a choice on financial grounds between the two institutions, but rather feel free to make the choice on intellectual grounds.” In their YDN op-ed, Bribiescas and Gendler wrote that in the past year, Yale has made “consistent strides” toward hiring a more diverse faculty. Of the 28 Faculty of Arts and Sciences professors arriving in this academic year or hired in the last hiring cycle, three are of African descent and six are of East Asian or South Asian descent. And Yale’s newly announced $50 million commitment over the next five years could help make faculty diversification easier, both through providing funds to hire visiting professors and through creating a university-wide “teaching academy” for existing faculty. Gendler believes the new initiative is “equivalent to all of the strong plans that are going on at universities around the country.” Comparing it to Columbia University, which has allocated $63 million to diversity efforts since 2012, Gendler Yale Daily News Magazine | 35
cover says of Yale’s initiative, “my understanding of [Yale’s plan] is that it’s almost identical in scale and scope.” The new initiative, Gendler says, will provide the “opportunity to really make spectacular and enticing offers to excellent faculty that we hope to attract.”
hile Jaynes believes Yale has made significant progress on the hiring front, he and others maintain that Yale’s biggest problem now is the retention of minority faculty. President Levin may have reached his 2005 goal of bringing in at least 30 minority professors over seven years, but by 2012, only 22 of the 56 minority professors hired up until then remained. Many faculty members agree that minority professors at Yale tend to receive more outside job offers than their white colleagues, increasing the chances that they may leave Yale. But why exactly have so many jumped ship if Yale is, as the rhetoric goes, “the best institution in the world”? The answer, according to several professors, may lie in informal obstacles within the tenure process. Because minority students often identify more with minority professors and will thus ask them to be advisors, Jaynes says
minority professors tend to be overloaded with mentoring responsibilities, diverting crucial time away from the most important factor in tenure decisions — research. Likewise, says English professor Amy Hungerford, administrative committees often try to include minority professors to add diversity to their discussions, meaning minority professors can be overloaded with committee responsibilities as well. According to Hungerford, some of these committees drain time but do not always provide significant career payoff. Part of the problem, too, says Rasmussen, are Yale’s inconsistent standards for promotion. According to Rasmussen, some professors who have published significant books and journal articles are promoted, while others who have done so are not. Annual evaluations for professors could help remedy this, she says, as this would create both a mentoring process as well as a paper trail so that if a professor were not promoted, there would be fewer suspicions of bias. Nonetheless, says Hungerford, who is also divisional director of the Humanities, Yale is different from other schools in that divisional committees read scholars’ works during tenure decisions. Moreover, Hungerford believes there are certain markers across fields that are respected
as signs of accomplishment, like special archival finds, mastery of languages and innovative research methods. Hungerford, Rasmussen and Allen all agree that Yale’s lengthy tenure clock makes job offers from other schools more attractive to minority professors. Unlike most other U.S. universities, which often offer tenure after six years (upon promotion to associate professor), Yale generally does not offer tenure until after nine years (upon promotion from associate to full professor). “The formal recognition of tenure [at Yale] is delayed almost longer than anywhere else,” Allen says. “Which means people wait to have children, people wait to buy houses, people wait to get into committed relationships … because anything can happen.” Bribiescas reports in an email that he has been working with Gendler on a committee to reevaluate the tenure process. Writes Bribiescas, “Yale’s tenure track system is barely out of the nest, having been in existence only eight out of the last 314 years. As with any other aspect of university professional life, it should be constantly assessed, and it is.” Until the tenure process is changed, though, minority professors might opt to leave early provided a more secure
photograph by Alex Zhang 36 | November 2015
cover opportunity elsewhere.
eeper sores beyond issues of tenure likely also diminish Yale’s ability to retain minority faculty. A survey released in 2008 revealed that underrepresented minority (URM) senior faculty at Yale are three times as likely as non-URM peers to feel that they must work harder than their colleagues to be perceived as legitimate scholars. Fifty percent cited others’ lack of interest in their research areas (versus 15 percent for nonURMs), and 61 percent cited exclusion from informal networks (versus 11 percent for non-URMs). The most startling statistic: compared to only 5 percent of non-underrepresented minority faculty, 22 percent of underrepresented minority respondents said they would not come to Yale if they could decide again. Rasmussen believes part of the problem is that fields historically dominated by minority faculty do not receive sufficient respect. She thinks that scholarship in Ethnic Studies is especially undervalued at Yale, and perceived to be so by minority faculty, contributing to the feelings of isolation reflected in the survey. “Everyone recognizes that if you’re writing about Shakespeare, it’s intellectually valid,” she says. “If you’re writing about Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, they’ll say, ‘Theresa who?’” One concrete recommendation, discussed in committees going all the way back to 1989, involves giving interdisciplinary programs unilateral hiring power. Yale’s African American Studies Department received hiring power in 2000, though only after the program’s chair Hazel Carby resigned in protest of Levin’s neglect of the program. (Earlier that year, Levin had attended a dinner celebrating Henry Louis Gates Jr. — a leader in Harvard’s African American Studies department who was denied tenure at Yale in 1985 — and had made remarks about the “jealousy” he felt towards Harvard’s “extraordinary program.”) A week after Carby’s resignation, African American
by Hayley Kolding There was howling in the night, though I was never sure who howled. Coyotes or sirens? Maybe both; we lived in a sort of liminal zone. My father spoke, when we first moved here, of a child snatched from an open field, I being five years old and just having seen my first open field. At least, it seemed that he had spoken such, and standing in our new driveway alone, suitcase in hand as I eyed the sprawling, dusty yard, I imagined blades of grass lifting behind me in the wind, swirling, forming a tall man who’d place his hands over my eyes. I feared wolves. I feared rapists, the snatch being all that a child understands of rape. Later, I told my father my old fears and he apologized. There had been no empty field at all. No corn husk man. He’d seen a long line of cars in the sixties, police checking every trunk. Not the same thing at all, no. He had grown up citied like I’d had except he brought me to the house by the river where coyotes howled at night and the sirens were for old people dying.
Studies received departmental status. The Ethnicity, Race, and Migration Program at Yale, however, has yet to receive hiring power. Though the program has been around for years, first created as a subdivision of the American Studies program in the 1980s and then made formally independent in 1997, the University has never made it into an official department. Maybe that’s why, Rasmussen says, the mood among faculty in ER&M and departments like American Studies and African American Studies is “somewhere
between grim, demoralized and angry.” Rasmussen believes interdisciplinary fields such as ER&M and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies are “the sites on campus where best practices [for hiring a diverse faculty] can be observed,” and administrators could just “ask faculty how to do it.” Matthew Jacobson, the chair of ER&M for this academic year, believes allowing ER&M to hire its own professors — and to hire more professors — would create a long-term spillover effect for the University. He says ER&M may hold the Yale Daily News Magazine | 37
cover key to faculty diversity by creating a “center of gravity” that shows academics that Yale is hospitable not just to minority faculty but also to the study of racial minorities. Asked about why ER&M hasn’t received departmental status yet, Jacobson is quick to respond: “I don’t know why. But Yale has systemically devalued Ethnic Studies in a way that [faculty] diversification becomes an uphill climb. It routinely behaves as though Ethnic Studies is just a side thing, that it’s not incumbent for any university to teach these things. And yet, when you turn on the television, what do you see and what is everyone talking about? Ethnicity, race, immigration.”
for more course offerings in African American Studies, ER&M, and WGSS as well as commitments to retain faculty in these departments. Since the beginning of this school year, Yale students have catalyzed dialogues across campus that have reached the national media — dialogues ranging from forums about changing the name of Calhoun College to discussions about cultural appropriation, racial profiling, faculty diversity and more. Bribiescas says he has been in conversations this fall with deans of Yale’s four cultural houses to host open forums on faculty diversity, saying that he looks forward to the forums and is “eager to listen to [students’] thoughts, concerns tudents call for more minority and suggestions.” faculty.” “It is safe to assume that every student So reads the headline of a Yale cares about Yale and its future,” Bribiescas Daily News article, published not this fall writes in an email. “No matter what, but 28 years ago, on April 22, 1987, after students are always welcome to participate student leaders of various cultural groups in the conversation of how we build and penned a letter criticizing administrative maintain an excellent and diverse faculty.” responses to violent racist incidents at Yale. Gendler believes students can also help Describing how retention of minority alert faculty to academic topics they’re faculty would help ease racial tensions on interested in, adding, “We as a faculty campus, the letter read: “Not only has the try to be responsive to those concerns.” University failed to increase its minority Explaining that while Yale might faculty, but it has succeeded in driving sometimes be able to rely on existing them away in droves.” faculty to provide courses in high-demand
President Levin may have reached his 2005 goal of bringing in at least 30 minority professors over seven years, but by 2012, only 22 of the 56 minority professors hired up until then remained. Two days after Yale announced its $50 million diversity initiative this year, more than 200 students gathered on Cross Campus and surrounded Jonathan Holloway, the dean of Yale College, vocalizing their frustration with his silence on current incidents involving race at Yale. Within a day, DOWN Magazine — a publication that highlights voices of students of color — published a list of demands for administrators and students. Among these demands, students called 38 | November 2015
areas, whether in computer science or Ethnic Studies, she says that other times the University may need to bring in more faculty to teach those courses. “Sometimes we realize that in order to train the next generation in the questions that they’re interested in, we need to bring in faculty with different sorts of skills, different sorts of experiences, or faculty who are addressing different sorts of questions,” Gendler says. With the announcement of the new
faculty diversity initiative, Yale should have more resources to do just that. But as the Yale community waits for administrators to release more details in the coming months, some remain cautious. Rasmussen says while she thinks it’s “great to see the University making this commitment,” unless many of the hires are brought in as senior faculty with tenure, “the initiative is just a kind of windowdressing with potentially devastating consequences for [junior] faculty of color and women who are brought into hostile environments with little support.” Yuni Chang ’18, an intercultural outreach coordinator for the Asian American Studies Task Force, is also cautious. “I want to be hopeful,” she says, “but Yale is very good at making it seem like it’s making genuinely progressive measures when it does not have a strong track record of following through on its promises.” Ryan Wilson ’17, a member of the Yale Black Men’s Union, agrees. He adds, “Diversity needs to mean more than bringing marginalized people to campus. It needs to mean making sure those people have the resources and support they need once they are here.”
ear the end of my conversation with Jaynes, he shares with me one of his most vivid memories from his many years at Yale. It was 1979, and he was a new assistant professor. He heard a knock on his office door, and an undergraduate Native American woman walked in. “She wasn’t a student of mine, she just came in to talk,” Jaynes recalls. “She … kind of had an emotional breakdown and started crying. She was lonesome. She talked about how hard it was being a Native American student at Yale. And because there weren’t that many minority faculty, and I was young, she felt like I was the closest thing she could come to and talk to who might have some empathy, empathy based in real experience.” He leans back in his chair, takes a deep breath and exhales. “I’ve always thought about that moment.”
by Graham Ambrose graphic by Quinn Lewis
n 1991, Purdue sociologist Scott Feld discovered the Friendship Paradox: statistically, your friends are more popular than you. That is, on average, your friends have more friends than you have friends. Sad. Vexing. True. Don’t believe? Ask a friend. Oh, wait. But not only are you lonelier, you’re also having less sex, nerd. So says the research. To test the theory, we ventured behind Sterling to the epicenter of
promiscuity at Yale. No, not the dumpster where Explo kids make out. We went to the dumpster where Yale kids make out. We went to Toad’s. Twain quipped, “There are three types of lies – lies, damn lies, and statistics [that reveal that all of your friends are more licentious than you].” We tried to make this up. But instead we thought to give you the stats.
How many sexual encounters do you have each month? Mean: 2.06 Median: 2
How many sexual encounters does your best friend have each month? Mean: 4.83 Median: 3.5 5
How many sexual encounters does your suite have each month? Mean: 6.83 Median: 5
n average, those lame (see: drunk) enough to be polled on their way into Woad’s estimated themselves to be twice as sexually inactive as their friends and three times more inactive than their suites. Qualitatively, research subjects expressed varying levels of apprehension when surveyed by the Mag. “I disagree with this assignment,” one strikingly handsome junior
twice my height responded. “This is not really right. Right?” he added, still handsome. Others were less bashful. “Can you write an 8 sideways?” inquired one junior. [We decided to omit this clear statistical outlier in the surprisingly professional-looking graph above.]
nd that, friends of friends, is the Friendship Paradox at Yale. Hypothesis confirmed.
by Madeline Kaplan
THIS MAKES ME SAD
HOW TO HAVE A PERFECT ABC FAMILY THANKSGIVING
bits and pieces
o one does holidays like ABC Family. Best known for its annual “25 Days of Christmas” programming, the network’s wholesome values and light conflict can also enliven other celebratory seasons. Follow these foolproof steps to realize the ABC Family Thanksgiving episode of your dreams:
Dress everyone in autumnal separates from the Gap. How are we to gauge whether you’re a middle-class everyperson if not by the burnt orangeness of your cardigan? Corduroys all around. Bonus points if everyone is wearing artfully mismatched scarves.
Introduce a minor conflict over a Thanksgiving tradition. Aunt Beth doesn’t think it matters whether or not the cranberry sauce contains the traditional secret ingredient. Aunt Paula is willing to die for it. Let them duke it out while Nana clucks her tongue and kneads a quantity of dough.
Play a game of touch football with the whole family. This demonstrates how close-knit you are and allows male family members to sensually remove select articles of clothing. Research shows this tactic appeals to women between the ages of 18 and 34. If you are lucky, 0.6 million of them will tune in to watch your family unravel and then re-ravel itself.
Invite former child-actress Tia Mowry. Open the door and let Tia Mowry inside. She will be playing your cousin this Thanksgiving, and you are required to laugh at her one-liners. At the end of the night, she will attempt to start a tasteful group dance number composed of several adult women. Join her.
Kill off the patriarch. Your family’s Thanksgiving probably won’t get renewed. Make this one count. Yale Daily News Magazine | 39
Christopher Buckley ’75. Marie Colvin ’78. Samantha Power ’92.