For those freshmen stepping on to Yale's campus for the first time, it is my sincerest wish that your first year prove even half as entertaining as the one that just passed. There is a certain magic about Yale University; a kind of magic beyond Gothic spires and rich history. It is the kind of magic that turns sensible young people into a mob of chanting fools. One would imagine that a serene Ivy League university such as ours would offer few interesting personalities and even fewer opportunities for scandal, but it typically takes less than a month for that candy-coated image to pass away, and the "they're at it again" attitude to set in. A mere glance at the events of this past academic year offer only a sample of the circus that we call home away from home.
Last fall, when Yale students arrived back on campus for the beginning of another year, they found the once beautiful Branford College boarded up and surrounded by fences, mounds of dirt, and construction equipment. On the upside, the newly-renovated Berkeley College was back in working order, complete with an awkwardly arranged dining hall and a charmless common room. Students cheered as any last remnants of taste and character were sanded away and replaced with strangely unnecessary dining hall balconies and booths where leather furniture used to be. All that time, all that money, all that construction—for what? American collegiate Gothic meets Burger King.
In September, it was time again for New Haven alderman elections, an event that usually passes (for good reason) without notice from people with lives. Yale's own Asit Gosar (PC '00) defeated incumbant Ester Armmand in the Ward 7 Democratic primary, but the glory quickly faded as the campus was gripped by rumors of election fraud. Apparently, the good Mr. Gosar decided that he was such a likeable candidate that students residing in Ward 1 should have the privilege of voting for him. In fact, he owed his victory over Armand (a 29-vote margin) to the 33 votes he bussed in from the Ward 1 district (Old Campus). Gosar-gate swept campus, and fearing that Ken Starr could be called in at any moment, Gosar resigned in disgrace.
The fall term was a good season for the Yale football team, who beat Harvard in the final minute of the Game. They played some other games and won some kind of a title, as well. We are all proud. Very proud.
As usual, GESO (the little band of graduate students who think they are employees and should be able to unionize) caused trouble around campus. Their usual chants of "Hey, hey, ho, ho, _____________'s gotta go!" and "What do we want? _________! When do we want it? Now!" filled the air, but happiness soon turned to dismay as the National Labor Relations Board gently informed them of what we have known all along: they are students! Yes, students! It came as a shock to the beleaguered GESO, who dashed off to create more signs and plan more marches. At the time we went to press, the graduate "students" remain unconvinced of their status.
In better news, President Levin announced a plan to invest $500 million in science and engineering over the next 20 years. The money will go for new buildings and upgrading labs. Students and researchers will no longer have to work in the dark and will have plenty of money set aside to electrocute as many men, women, animals, plants, and Twinkies as they so desire.
Following this financial triumph, President Levin was in hot water with African-American Studies Chair Hazel Carby, who resigned following perceived offensive comments made by Levin while introducing Henry Louis Gates, Jr. at a Calhoun master's tea. Her real problem was that Yale had not made Af-Am Studies a real department like Harvard had, so she threw a great big fit. No one cared. Levin, however, conceded to her demands and she graciously took her job back. Now we can all sleep better.
Yet another Yale criminal made the news when former Saybrook master Antonio Lasaga plead guilty to charges relating to child pornography. And Yale is worried about Napster—go figure.
Another entry in the Yale criminal file came from New York, where Yale Corporation member Diana Brooks resigned as president and CEO of Sotheby's Holdings, Inc. amid talk of price-fixing. She also resigned her place on the board of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co… but she remains on the Yale Corporation.
The murder of Yale student Susan Jovin remained unsolved, despite alleged cat hair clues and a “20/20” special. Yale managed to mar its Disneyesque image when a member of the administration, Tom Conroy, handled the ABC press poorly, making callous comments regarding the Jovin case. Another proud moment in real world-Yale relations.
Associate professor Lee Blackwood discovered that he would no longer have a home here at Yale when the history department decided that his dissertation had poor possibilities as a published work (although, it could not be any worse than some of the stuff the political science department has published). Blackwood claims that he was the victim of departmental politics stemming from a memo he wrote criticizing some department policies and procedures. With a pending appeal, his fate hangs in the balance. The bottom line: he has puctures of Communist leaders on his wall and he sometimes wears a beret. Enough said.
Something did actually happen that affected students' lives last year
(shocking, I know). Frequent use of Napster sent university computing officials
into a tailspin, and ratings for Star Trek reruns dropped significantly
as round-the-clock work was undertaken to alleviate the problems. On top
of this, Metallica, those paragons of justice, named Yale University in
a lawsuit, prompting the university to ban the software entirely, making
the campus safe from popular music. Good news, though: students still have
access to bomb-making websites, racist propaganda, and pornography of all
In a rather amusing episode, the issue of choice for whiney rich students this year was sweatshop labor and Yale's use of products created by sweatshop labor. There were protests, and even a camping trip! Yes, boys and girls, in order to save the children, the Students Against Sweatshops went camping! On Beinecke Plaza. For 16 days. In the rain and cold. Despite such awe-inspiring efforts, "Camping for Justice" made little impact at all. Well, they were a source of humor, but President Levin, in an admirable show of strength and administrative control, stood firm and refused to give in to the unhappy campers' demands. And by that time, it was reading week, so they courageously and patiently stayed out on Beineke, studying, in a demonstration that they were serious about—no, I’m making that up. They moaned that after a whole 16 days their human-rights campaign had not yet succeeded, and they went home. Perhaps this year we can look forward to a marshmallow roast for world peace, or selling cookies door-to-door to save manatees. Oooo ... affirmative action s’mores. Now, there is an idea I can care about.
And finally, YCC managed to book Wyclef Jean for Spring Fling. He jumped around a lot, and screamed a lot, and he sang songs written by other people.
—Jeffrey Dorough, Publisher, is a senior in Trumbull College.