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F E A T U R E
Bizarre Bazaar
The Editors • The Yale Free Press's totally unbiased Guide to Student Organizations
September 2000

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 reading another.

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 specialized interests. 

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. 

Then duck.

Political Groups

College Democrats
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." 

College Republicans
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. 

College Libertarians
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. 

Liberal Party
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. 

Progressive Party
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. 

Independent Party 
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.

Tory Party
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. 

Conservative Party
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. 

Activists

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 its affiliates. 

Women's Center
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 them. 

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.

Publications

Aurora
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 about. 

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
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. 

Yale Alternative
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 Trads)
 "I possess the truth. All the world shall be enlightened—by any means necessary!"
 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 punches. 

Yale Herald
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. 

Rumpus
 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."

Yale Standard
 Regular updates on God. 

Miscellaneous

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. 
 

 
The Yale Free Press is published by students ofYale University. 
Yale University is not responsible for its 
contents. By the same
token, The Yale Free Press is not responsible for the contents of Yale
University.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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