September 2002 | The Yale Free Press' totally unbiased Guide to Student Organizations
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 dont worry, it probably wont 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 journalssomewhere over twenty undergraduate
publications. The Womens 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 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 alcoholeither 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
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 dont mind descending into the mud of New Haven
politics. Some members of the CDs make it into office; others get
tied down in vote-fraud scandals. The CDs win the prize for most obnoxious
advertising on campusCollege Democrats. Were the good
The CRs are mostly active in election years. Theyve done their
job for the time being. There is a Republican in the White House,
and we probably wont hear from these guys until 2004.
Historically, the CLs have held periodic small speaker meetings with
guest libertarian thinkers. The CLs are much less political than the
CRs or the CDs, so its actually bearable to enter conversations
with them. We suspect that most Yalies agree with Libertarians on many issues,
but just dont 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 PUs 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? Its 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. In the past year they have become considerably more
radical, but no more interesting.
The Progs were founded seventeen years ago by members of both the Party
of the Right and the Independent Party. They come to the Political Union
to drink beer, disrupt debate, and occasionally give joke speeches (imagine
having to spend five minutes hearing someone argue that human rights aren't
inalienable because they aren't in aliens).
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 IPs have an incoherent set of political beliefs.
Many more are utilitarians. Others agree to disagree.
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. At this point they are on the verge of death with no more
than six active members.
The CP, though the youngest party in the Union, spends much time trying
to revive the culture of Old Yaleexcept this time, theyre including
women and minorities. 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 youll have to decide whether they have
the substance to back them 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. Dont believe the hypemembers dont 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-ops busiest time. Luckily, theyre 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 does some good volunteer work, but also supports just about every
bleeding-heart cause on campus.
Asian-American Students Association (AASA)
AASA is one of Yales more radical ethnic advocacy groups. Members
fight the stereotype of the passive Asian by yelling a lot and bemoaning
the plight of Yales 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 Womens 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 its good resume
The Womens 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 is an organization dedicated to saving the planet from human beings.
They constantly protest the building of new power plants and demand more
stringent recycling rules. It's ok. They're just a bunch of spoiled rich
kids who don't mind paying more for recycled paper.
Yale College Council
The YCC has a long tradition of irrelevance. Four years ago, they achieved
their only recent coupreplacing one-ply toilet paper with two-ply.
In general, the YCC has even less power than your high school student council
did, which doesnt stop them from passing resolutions regarding sweatshops
and Slobodan Milosevic. Aside from screwing up occasional campus events,
such as last year's Spring Fling, the YCC goes unnoticed, even in election
Students for Union Compliance
Workers of the world, get back to work! That is the rallying cry of this
group, devoted to counter-protesting and subverting New Haven unions' agenda.
SUC always becomes active every year there is a labor dispute brewing. Expect
them to be a presence this year as labor negotiations start to boil over.
Reproduction Rights Action League of Yale College
Formed in response to the Pro-Life League, RALY engages in lobbying, debates,
and movie nights (we shudder to think). They do keep very busy, though.
Maybe thats why leftists seem to be unable to come up with an acronym
to save their lives.
United Students at Yale (USAY)
This recently-formed union for undergraduates is even more pointless than
GESO, their graduate student counterpart. Again, self-obsessed Yalies
want to identify with the suffering of others, by imagining that they too
are oppressed by some ghoulish management. Allied (somehow)
with Locals 34 and 35, they demand financial aid reform and increased dance
performance space. Again, were not making this up.
The Committee for Freedom
Recently, members of CFF were threatened with arrest during their protest
of a Yale event honoring the Peoples Republic of China. Other events
that the police didnt show up for included counter-protests
of Yale union rallies, protests of Dubyas drug policy, and a celebration
of the 10th anniversary of the fall of the USSR. 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.
The latest publication dedicated to whining about race and demanding speechcodes,
Continua publishes every issue with the same cover. Dont worry;
whats inside is the same every time too. We like it. Its a reliable
source of material for our Media Watch section..
Light and Truth
Slick conservative mag. Looks good, but doesnt seem interested in
talking to the Great Unwashed. (That means everyone who doesnt already
share their opinions. And the Yale Free Press.) In recent years they
have only published twice a year, and all of their issues look pretty much
the same. For a wild night, grab an issue and drink a shot of scotch for
each time you see Bass Grant Scandal or Phelpsgate.
L & T may think that using works like Yalensian is traditionalist
and well-educated. The rest of us just think its 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 Types pieces are genuinely engaging,
but most are staring contests with the authors bellybuttons. Type
features a great deal of eye-candy. Even when theyre okay, though,
they are by no means unique.
Resume padding goes multinational! Dedicated to reviving old International
Studies term papers, every issue contains some Malthusian nonsense that
the world will soon run out of resources and calls for people to stop waste.
The first step is for them to stop publishing.
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 youd rarely guess it from the colorless writing. The reviews are
usually either noncommittal and vague, or rabid and incoherent, although
they have improved lately.
The Yale Free Press
The YFP is the publication of Yales small group of alienated
conservatives. The YFP covers all the bases of conservatism:
- Pretentious Country Club Republicans (Econocons)
Alls well with me and my BMW, alls well with the world.
- Evangelical, Dogmatic Fundamentalists (Traditionalists or Trads)
I possess the truth. All the world shall be enlightened by
any means necessary!
- Amoral, Free Marketeers (Libertarians)
Hey, the market works, in ideas and economics. Just sit back, light
up a joint, and let it flow, man .
- 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 cant 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 Yales dominant, knee-jerk liberalism and an unwillingness to
Yale Daily News
The YDN is Yales oldest publication (and the oldest college
daily in America), 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
standards, the YDN has been decidedly leftist for the past couple of years.
As of late, it has had a surprising swing to the right. 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: its daily and its news.
But if youre looking for entertaining or insightful writing, look
elsewhere. And watch outthe 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. Last year, they had to retract an
entire article fabricated by a reporter all too eager to prove discrimination
of a former Yale employee.
Writing for the Daily is another matter, however. The YDN is infamous
for bitter elections, dirty politics, and hacking.
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. That doesnt stop it from regularly scooping the Daily.
The Heralds comics are abysmal, and the whole paper is sex-obsessed.
Other than that, its a pretty good weekly.
DKE parties, Political Union sex scandals, and Yales 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 its probably right. Unfortunately, a lot of that stuff is boring
unless youre fascinated by a field guide to the best
and worst bathrooms at Yale. Its about as funny as gonorrhea,
and twice as disgraceful. Although theyd know more about that
than we would.
Regular updates on God. However, it recently broke the story that those
who authored the Yale Slavery Report fabricated and distorted many facts
to make people after whom Yales buildings are named sound racist.
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 that conforms more to our own times than to the muscular, offensive
Christianity of the New Testament. If youre looking for something
a little more hardcore, try Yale Students for Christ.
Yale Students Academic Competitions
At Yale it is no different. The people on the Quiz Bowl team
are still nerds, just like in high school. However, here, they have more
fun and actually go to tournaments at exotic places. Their practice schedule
can be demanding, but you dont have to go to each practice to compete.
If you possess useless knowledge, err...are good at trivia, give these guys