E A T U R E
The Editors • The Yale Free Press's totally unbiased Guide to Student
Forget about classes. Despite what some Group IV majors might tell you,
the center of Yale life remains its unbelievable array of undergraduate
organizations. Yale students regularly find themselves devoting more time
to their activities than their classes. A real Yalie blows off classes,
tests, papers, and sometimes funerals to rehearse with his singing group,
publish his journal, or plan a party for his fraternity. A few Yalies have
been so enthusiastic for their activities that they have actually flunked
out. But don't worry, it probably won't happen to you.
Being the go-getting bunch that we are, Yalies create new organizations
nearly every day. It seems that every student is so power-hungry that he
refuses to serve under anyone else, and thus goes off to form his own organization.
Consequently, we do not have one, but two parties on the left and three
parties on the right in the Political Union. We have a constantly fluctuating
number of papers, magazines and journals—somewhere over twenty undergraduate
publications. The Women's Center has over thirteen separate subgroups.
The Dwight Hall Social Justice Network is just that, a network of activist
groups. Even the Asian-American Students Association has nine different
groups within it.
But the Yale Daily News and Herald freshmen issues forgot to mention
that having all these groups is not necessarily a good thing. Each group
creates its own clique that is both social and yet quite competitive (often
in a rather nasty sort of way). You haven't seen backstabbing until you've
survived a Political Union election (held every semester). You haven't
seen tough until you've seen one singing group criticize another at a jam.
And you haven't seen brutal until you've watched the editor of one publication
The advantage of Yale is that you discover groups and organizations
you couldn't find anywhere else. The problem is that there are groups and
organizations you wouldn't want to find here or elsewhere. It's kind of
neat to have a group devoted solely to juggling (the Anti-Gravity Society).
But the multitude of groups spreads talent thin.
A substantial portion of Yale's organizations are superfluous political
advocacy groups for causes no one cares about and no one really understands.
Other groups do have specific agendas and the power to carry them out.
Some of Yale's tight-knit ethnic communities have formed fairly powerful
student groups that espouse radical political agendas. Intensive lobbying
by ethnic groups lead to the creation of the Ethnicity, Race, and Migration
major four years ago. Yale's feminist groups can always be relied on to
shake things up at least once a semester with some sort of protest.
No one, not even the YFP staff, begrudges these myriad groups the right
to exist. Indeed, we must confess that we would have much less to write
about without them. However, many students never truly understand the motivation
of these groups or the extent of their politically radical ideas or highly
When you walk in to the Bazaar, people will flock around you like men
around a beautiful woman in a bar. In fact, there is very little to distinguish
the Freshman Bazaar from a Friday night party. There will be people screaming
seemingly random, somewhat amusing utterances. There will be people trying
to impress with alcohol—either drinking a lot of it or offering it to you.
And each participant has just one thing on his mind: self-preservation
through reproduction. Just like a party, some will be subtler than others
about wanting and needing you. Some will have good pick-up lines. Some
will be clever. But the goal is universal. Every serious member of every
Yale organization wants you to join their ranks. Patronize them. They're
trying hard. And as silly and obvious as they get, you should seek out
what they are offering.
As freshmen, you are the most vulnerable to these groups' entreaties.
It is not unheard of for a dying group to recruit a freshman fall semester
and by January abandon the group to that same freshman.
The following brief guide will help you wade through the morass. It
focuses on those groups we know best. We may be biased, but at least we're
honest. If you want to find out how the rest of the campus feels about
us, try this: when you get to the Women's Center table at the Bazaar, tell
'em the Yale Free Press sent you.
Tied closely to the New Haven Democratic Party machine, the College
Democrats are for liberals who don't mind descending into the mud of New
Haven politics. Some members of the CD’s make it into office; others get
tied down in vote-fraud scandals. (See "Year in Review.”) The CD's win
the prize for most obnoxious advertising on campus—"College Democrats.
We're the good guys."
The one word that describes the CR's is "zealous." They'll be extremely
active this year up until the November elections; all of their energy is
focused on getting the GOP guy into the White House, so they don't do much
once elections are over. Debate isn't a priority—they already know all
the right answers.
Historically, the CL's have held periodic small speaker meetings with
guest libertarian thinkers. The CL's are much less political than the CR's
or the CD's, so it's actually bearable to enter conversations with them.
We suspect that most Yalies agree with Libertarians on many issues, but
just don't know it yet.
Yale Political Union
The PU is the ultimate playground for budding politicians and political
hacks (is there a difference?). Mainly, the PU serves as a forum for discussion
on major national political issues of the day, such as abortion, welfare
reform, affirmative action and terrorism. Its long history and formidable
reputation enable it to bring in big name speakers such as Kenneth Starr,
Bill Bradley, Ross Perot and, uh, Jerry Springer (sigh). But to satisfy
the needs of its politically obsessed members, the PU is divided into six
separate parties that vie for PU offices each semester.
This is where the PU's nasty reputation is born. Parties battle it out
for the right to chair meetings, invite speakers, and pad resumes. Of course,
the parties themselves also hold elections. It gets ugly as friends backstab
each other, enemies sabotage candidates, and rival parties leak nasty rumors.
What can we say? It's not pretty, but it is politics. Here are the six
parties, each with a life and character of its own.
The oldest party of the PU, the Liberal Party has a long tradition
which it regularly ignores. They are not radicals by any means. Instead,
the Libs are more representative of the modern elitist class of liberals
who defend the welfare state, oppose military spending, favor social engineering,
and feel white guilt.
The Progs were founded seventeen years ago by members of both the Party
of the Right and the Independent Party. Some Progs are liberal. More, it
seems, are neo-conservatives who are too embarrassed to be called conservative.
And almost all are constantly drunk. Beyond lewd jokes and beer, no one
is quite sure what the Progs stand for, least of all the Progs themselves.
The Independent Party has many neat slogans like "We are the political
spectrum" and "We reject the dungheap of dogma." This is undoubtedly true.
Many IP's have an incoherent set of political beliefs. Some don't have
any political beliefs at all (except maybe whatever will get them elected).
If you want to avoid the hassle of defining what you think, the Independent
Party is for you.
The Tories split off from the Party of the Right about thirty years
ago. The Tories call themselves "reasoned conservatives." Some call them
self-satisfied, rich Republicans. Others call themselves intellectual lightweights.
Decide for yourself, but they do dress well.
The CP spends much time trying to revive the culture of Old Yale—except
this time, they're including women. (?) If the class of 1937 were
actually the vanguard of conservatism, these people would be on to something.
They tend to use the vocab words of philosophy, but you'll have to decide
whether they have the substance to back it up.
Party of the Right
The Party of the Right is the second-oldest party in the PU. Members
enjoy good cigars, lots of liquor, and philosophical debate at weekly meetings.
The POR suffers from (or glories in) one of the nastiest reputations on
campus. Don't believe the hype—members don't come from another planet.
Check it out for yourself.
Yale College Student Union
The YCSU was founded as a rival to the YPU. It is primarily a lecture
circuit, rather than a forum for debate. It serves as an outlet for YPU
hacks who lose elections and Yalies who want to be talked at rather than
to talk and be listened to.
The LGBT Co-Op
Lewd posters, easy outrage, S&M workshops (really). Their
main function on campus for the past few years has been running dances
for "queers" and others. Watch out for the chalkings and postering of Queer
Pride Week next spring, the Co-op's busiest time. Luckily, they're pretty
quiet 51 weeks out of the year.
Dwight Hall Social Justice Network
The umbrella organization of umbrella organizations, the Social Justice
Network purports to fund student opinion groups of all leanings. In reality,
the SJN supports just about every bleeding-heart cause on campus.
Asian-American Students Association (AASA)
AASA is one of Yale's more radical ethnic advocacy groups. Members
fight the stereotype of the passive Asian by yelling a lot and bemoaning
the plight of Yale's second-most overrepresented minority (after Jews).
Some Asians want to be more exclusive and form their own subgroups such
as KASY, the Korean American group. Others simply stay away from AASA and
The Women's Center is the butt of student jokes, and not just in the
pages of the YFP. With as many as six co-coordinators at a time, essentially
anyone can be a feminist leader. Maybe it's good resume padding. (?)
The Women's Center covers the entire spectrum from Students for Reproductive
Health all the way to Women of Color for Reproductive Freedom. Once, they
even let Yale Women for Life into the Center.
Yale Student Environmental Coalition
YSEC has requested that we omit them from our list of undergraduate
organizations in the interest of saving paper. Remember, paper=trees. To
make up for this underrepresentation, we've included a large cartoon about
Yale College Council
The YCC has a long tradition of irrelevance. Three years ago, they
achieved their only recent coup—replacing one-ply toilet paper with two-ply.
In general, the YCC has even less power than your high school student council
did. Aside from screwing up occasional campus events, the YCC goes unnoticed,
even in election season.
Students Against Sweatshops (SAS)
Last year, SAS wised up and began focusing their energy on the
reform of companies, not governments. They have honorable goals, but their
economics are the usual refried Harvard Marxism. They're good to argue
with, and they did have some very nice pot parties in their tents out on
Beinecke last year.
Students for the Second Amendment
An armed campus is a polite campus. SSA supports your right to pack
heat by protesting, postering, and inviting guest speakers to their meetings.
Student Labor Action Coalition (SLAC)
SLAC boasts Yale's most accurate acronym, at least. It's a confused
little group; three years ago, its members picketed the Omni Hotel (not
Yale-owned) while ignoring the labor negotiations of the college's own
police force. Guess it's not cool to picket with the pigs. But if you like
starting meetings with chants of "Hey hey, ho ho, oppression's gotta go,"
SLAC is definitely for you. (We couldn't make that up.)
The Committee for Freedom
Recently, members of CFF were threatened with arrest during their protest
of a Yale event honoring the People's Republic of China. Other events that
the police didn't show up for included protests of Dubya's drug policy
and Gore's Unabomber-esque environmentalism. The CFF may be the only right-wing
guerrilla theater group in North America. Props include Communist
flags, copies of Being and Time and cigarettes.
Aurora has changed from a feminist political magazine to a literary/arts
journal and back again. Its current incarnation features less angst than
previous versions, but more cussing. Its "editorae" seem to think that
locker-room talk and screwing whoever catches your eye are the tools of
the revolution. If that's feminism, the patriarchy has nothing to worry
Light and Truth
Slick conservative mag. Looks good, but doesn't seem interested in
talking to the Great Unwashed. (That means everyone who doesn't already
share their opinions. And the Yale Free Press.) L & T may think
that using works like "Yalensian" is traditionalist and well-educated.
The rest of us just think it's prissy.
Type claims to have garnered "national attention as one of the
few campus magazines to deal with [issues of race and ethnicity]." Are
they joking? A few of Type's pieces are genuinely engaging, but
most are staring contests with the authors' bellybuttons. Type features
a great deal of eye-candy. Even when they're okay, though, they are by
no means unique.
Socialism for the starry-eyed. Some decent international articles,
many paeans to caring, justice, and other such controversial notions. Every
issue has at least one piece worth reading. Often in error, never in doubt.
Yale Review of Books
When the Yale Review of Politics died for lack of anything better
to do, its writers formed the ROB. The books it reviews may be interesting,
but you'd never guess it from the colorless writing. The reviews are always
either noncommittal and vague, or rabid and incoherent.
Yale Daily News
The YDN is Yale's oldest publication, with its own castle on
York Street. The YDN represents Yale well insofar as it represents
the Yale mainstream. Ostensibly, the YDN does not serve any interest
(except its own). Though centrist for Yale, the YDN is decidedly
leftist. Since it stopped charging for subscriptions four years ago, it
has reasserted itself as the most-read publication at Yale.
The YDN lives up to its name: it's daily and it's news. But if
you're looking for entertaining or insightful writing, look elsewhere.
And watch out—the editorials can cause brain damage. So should you read
the Daily? Yes, for campus issues of the day and sports scores.
It is current, if not accurate.
Writing for the YDN is another matter, however. The YDN
is infamous for bitter elections, dirty politics, and hacking.
The Yale Free Press
The YFP is the publication of Yale's small group of alienated
conservatives. The YFP covers all the bases of conservatism:
1) Pretentious Country Club Republicans (Econocons)
"All's well with me and my BMW, all's well with the world."
2) Evangelical, Dogmatic Fundamentalists (Traditionalists or
"I possess the truth. All the world shall be enlightened—by any
3) Amoral, Free Marketeers (Libertarians)
"Hey, the market works, in ideas and economics. Just sit back,
light up a joint, and let it flow, man .…"
4) Lifetime Democrats (Neocons)
"Sure, I was liberal in high school. But I went to this meeting
where they wanted me to talk about my oppression as a Yale dining hall
worker. I just can't take it anymore."
This variety of viewpoints makes the YFP a lively publication.
Perhaps the greatest unifying force for its writers are a common disgust
with Yale's dominant, knee-jerk liberalism and an unwillingness to pull
The Herald actually verifies quotes, and manages to be funkier
and more politically balanced news than the YDN, but it only comes
out once a week. The Herald's comics are abysmal, and the whole
paper is sex-obsessed. Other than that, it's a pretty good weekly.
DKE parties, Political Union sex scandals, and Yale's 50 most
beautiful people—read all about it in Rumpus, the oldest college
tabloid. Rumpus claims to be the only magazine at Yale about stuff
at Yale, and it's probably right. Unfortunately, a lot of that stuff is
boring—unless you're fascinated by a field guide to "the best and worst
bathrooms at Yale."
Regular updates on God.
Objectivist Study Group at Yale
Devotees (and survivors) of Ayn Rand meet weekly to eat chips
and discuss things like: Do I exist? Are sweatshops the path to freedom?
Does A equal A? Come see Randians do battle with walking death premises.
Yale Christian Fellowship (YCF)
A group comprised mostly of recent converts, YCF deals mainly with
feelings. In its attempts to reach out to new members, it relies on a "happy"
message which conforms more to our own times than to the muscular, offensive
Christianity of the New Testament. If you're looking for something a little
more hardcore, try Yale Students for Christ.