Reflections on Yale’s Racial Predicament 2015: A Fundraiser’s Take (continued)

By Bill Boyer

Yale tightened its grip on the reality of free expression, culminating in the so-called “Woodward Report” in 1974, which clarified Yale’s approach to student activism and free speech, setting boundaries on related student behavior, while reinforcing Yale’s commitment to the open and unfettered exchange of ideas.

The details of the Woodward Report, written 41 years ago, are not so interesting today as its approach. Voltaire’s “I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it,” a free speech manifesto in a sentence, apparently needed to expand to exclude ruffians drowning out disagreeable speakers. So, the idea that uninvited non-students might disrupt a Yale speaker forum, that some students might find a potential Yale speaker’s message so distasteful or politically incorrect that the speaker ought properly to be stopped from even appearing at Yale (e.g. George Wallace in 1963) had to be dealt with by the Yale academy. The Woodward Report effectively summarized this history and prescribed a policy for the future.

Does the now-infamous “Shrieking Girl” in the viral YouTube video
have the right to shout obscenities at her college master?

This background colors Yale’s current dilemma. Problems always arise at the edges of ideas – in this instance, where a student’s right to express herself freely interferes with a speaker’s or teacher’s or college master’s right. Does the now-infamous “Shrieking Girl” in the viral YouTube video, Jerelyn Luther, a Yale senior, have the right to shout obscenities at her college master, the object of her vituperation — one whom she helped choose iv as a student representative on the Silliman master’s selection committee?

Or, more to the point, does any student have the right to shout obscenities at a Yale teacher at any time? Is it ever “free speech?” Or is it misbehavior warranting censure or even expulsion? I would say that, according to the Yale ethos of our era – say 1960 – such a student would be invited to continue his studies elsewhere.

Those draconian days are long past, thankfully, but are the disciplines forgotten, too? Yale’s president, a psychologist, has treated Yale’s recent protests with dignity and restraint, as did Silliman’s master and his wife. Mr. Salovey seemed, in his recent conference call to donors and in his related writings, not only to painfully avoid any politically incorrect implication, but to avoid any hint of judgement toward anyone at all. In this, he strikes me as an unruffled clinical psychologist, coolly sidestepping every direct blow with statements such as “I see that you are very angry,” or “I can see that you want to punch me in the nose and I accept your right to want that.”

To outsiders, like me perhaps, such bland absorption of insults seems pusillanimous; but maybe to some of Yale’s faculty and insiders, President Salovey’s mild response is salutary. His statement that Ms. Luther would not be punished in any way pushes Voltaire’s maxim over the edge. One asks “Does ANYthing offend you, Mr. Salovey? Are you capable, on Yale’s behalf, of being offended at all?”

Before the recent Yale outbursts about diversity, John Calhoun, discomfort, the Shrieking Girl, the March for Resilience and the flurry of apologies and explanations from Woodbridge Hall, Yale had already baked up a guilt-ridden platter of mea culpas, announced with unfortunate timing on November 3rd, a $50 Million effort to make its faculty even more politically correct, diverse and sensitive, as Mr. Salovey put it on November 6th, to the disparate wants of members of “the Afro-Am House, the Asian American Cultural Center, La Casa Cultural, the Native American Cultural Center” and “our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students, staff, and faculty.” Oh, yes, and “women, too.v Honestly, that’s what he wrote. Can’t make this stuff up.

Fifty Million Dollars!! — to make sure that, God forbid, no black, yellow, red or brown-skinned person, no poor person, no sexual minority or female or crippled or otherwise disabled person should ever again feel discomfort or exclusion from any Yale facility or transaction, or sniff any thin fume of discrimination by white American males, the only group omitted from Mr. Salovey’s catalogue of victims deserving Yale’s special cuddles.

“Yale should reward Ms. Luther with expulsion … with a message to the world
that Yale will not condone such an insolent disgrace.”

Yes, Yale is a decidedly different place today than it was in our day. And we are mystified.

To quote my Trumbull roommate, a “bursary student” while at Yale, after reading about current Yale issues; “one phrase struck me: ‘a reduction in effort for current [scholarship] students.’ Holy smoke! I had a bursary job plus part-time jobs to make ends meet. I expected to work to support myself. I also had a hefty loan which I damn well paid off. And poor me, I often felt a lack of ‘inclusiveness’ because I was poor and couldn’t keep up with the rich kids. I was at Yale, not of Yale, but I was proud to be there and am still proud to have been there. Yale is and should be a private, elite university; elite in the sense of the best minds. It does not have to reflect the national demographic. Is diversity an end in itself?”

Well, actually, yes. Clearly, the new Yale has made diversity an end in itself. vi Its $50 million promise includes a smorgasbord of diversity-enhancing tactics, classes, training and the like. In his recounting of his meeting with about 50 aggrieved minority students, Mr. Salovey said that he and his administration told the students that “Yale failed you — and we apologize,” or words to that effect.

“We out here, we’ve been here, we ain’t leaving, we are loved” — the chant of Yale’s “March of Resilience” last week – a slogan not betraying exposure to Yale’s English faculty — portrayed good old-fashioned sophomoric joy in cutting classes on a sunny Friday afternoon with a march ending in song and dance instead of violence. This was not about anger, but about Kumbayah for Persons of Color [“POC,” in the new lexicon of race]. “Whew!” the president must have sighed. “We dodged another bullet.”

freespeech1

In the meantime, said Mr. Salovey in an official message, the committee chosen to select names for Yale’s two new colleges will also decide whether to rename Calhoun for someone with fewer slavery ties, unlike Elihu Yale, himself a slave holder. Yale and Harvard both, fearing embarrassment, then cancelled a fundraising competition on the understandable prediction that disgusted alumni would zip their pockets shut.

Back to Ms. Luther, who had the misfortune of having her distemper go viral to the world. Yes, a careful reading of the Woodward Report suggests that she should be punished, expelled. In her case, an apology simply won’t do. [Why apologize? Just double down on the shrieking. Yale’s doing all the apologizing at the moment.] And so, if Yale ever stops its self-blame long enough to reflect, it should reward Ms. Luther with expulsion and say goodbye to that forgettable chapter with a message to the world that Yale will not condone such an insolent disgrace. As to the demands made by the midnight mob on Hillhouse Ave, Yale has acquiesced to too many and demurred to the rest (e.g. name both new colleges for African Americans.)

Larger issues remain. Yale has become what, exactly? It seems from the outside to have become permanently unfamiliar to our generation, a place so intent on redressing society’s hurts that it has lost all clear notion of what it is, who it is. We now have a dean, Jonathan Holloway, a fine leader and historian, who is a POC. Does his presence in that position invite greater grievance? I recall my time working for the first black mayor of a major American city, another brilliant man, Carl Stokes, whose mere presence at his city’s helm incited dramatic riots, shootouts and civic violence from disappointed members of the black community, who expected from him instant relief from the consequences of their skin color. In response, white businessmen organized a fund, called “Cleveland Now,” to help inner city neighborhoods, and millions were soon spent and forgotten.

“Yale is not building leaders but grooming sissies.”

Yale’s current $50 million initiative, although grander and academic in tone, rings of “Cleveland Now.” And Dean Holloway’s two-hour face-off at Cross Campus, where he displayed valiant restraint, recalls those days of mine, back in the 1960s, when, as a member of the city’s community development department, I listened to inner city groups demand better housing, cars and amenities without assuming responsibility for results. “Gimmee, you owe me,” they said. As a young, naive, suburban white liberal, I was dumbfounded.

And still am, at 75, reflecting on the fierce demands of “Next Yale.” Besides the ever-evolving notion of free speech, what does Yale stand for nowadays? No longer a bastion of white male supremacy, it seems more an unruly mélange of everything and nothing, unrecognizable to us 60s liberals and certainly not to older donors who felt proud to be counted among Yale’s anointed few. Incidentally, being so anointed carried a heavy burden of responsibility, too, as we were often reminded by President Griswold.

Yale’s academic leaders don’t use their shepherd’s crook; they merely observe dissent and apologize for Yale’s “failings,” spending lavish sums to prove their goodheartedness. “See, we’re not such bad folks!” they seem to say. Like Mizzou’s protesters who ousted its president, like dissonant, willful children, our demanding students on Hillhouse Avenue won the battle of wills, but seem unprepared for such an easy victory. Faced with unexpected, earnest appeasement, they soon drifted into song and dance — a happy consummation for President Salovey, but disconcerting for the rest of us.

Since when is it the academy’s job to “comfort” students? My wife, a lifelong teacher of children from preschool to college, says “teach them if you can, but, at least, complicate their minds.” Education is uncomfortable. No doubt the students’ tears of discomfort witnessed by our President and Dean were truly wept. Anyone who has raised children, and I have raised five, knows that overcoming adversity is more instructive than sitting on a cushion. It is not a teacher’s job to lead students to nirvana; they must, through sometimes painful trial and error while surmounting life’s inevitable difficulties, acquire the knowledge of what success costs. By coddling [yes, “coddling” is apt], Yale is not building leaders, but grooming sissies. If Yale truly wants to distinguish itself, it won’t be with a “suite” of soft pillows and huggy diversity training. It will be by recognizing that any accomplishment worth the striving will demand struggle, pain, fear and perseverance. Yes, and patience and forgiving.

But at Yale, apparently, gone are backbone, moral authority, and reasonable behavioral boundaries. Her leaders recognize the outrageous behavior, but are dumbed by dilemma. Bend over, give in, apologize, appease, temporize are the watchwords, not only, by the way, at Yale, but at Harvard and Princeton too, among many others. Harvard’s ad hoc diversity committee contains 17 distinguished people, but not one white male.vii At Princeton, Woodrow Wilson’s omnipresent legacy is attacked for his racial views,viii while calmer heads in the “Princeton Open Campus Coalitionix” and Yale’s “Committee for the Defense of Freedom”x decry the strident demands of politically correct extremists . . . a welcome show of civility in this era. This is all great theater and appropriate academic debate.

“Can Yale show that it is still training
strong-minded thinkers
with the stamina to withstand discomfort?”

But Yale’s disheartening capitulation to a loudmouth mob of anarchists calling itself “Next Yale,” [god forbid] frightens and discourages me and many of my classmates, even as it harmonizes with so many other college administrations. This is the absurdist “Black Lives Matter” gone to college. What a pretty predicament! As a fundraiser, how can I possibly ask my classmates for money, as I have for years, when Yale’s leaders have manifestly lost their bearings in the morass Yale has become?

What? The President meets with hooligans and promises more diversity? A gang of adolescent howlers can command our President’s serious attention? It’s the death of common sense.xi

Where is Yale’s honor? Send these ingrates packing! Pronounce them unfit for an expensive Yale education and let them protest elsewhere. Can one seriously imagine alumni will blindly support such patently supine behavior? It’s a very hard sell.

But is Yale supine? What else can its president and dean do? They inherited this, after all, from Inky and Kingy, who administered a brain stem transplant to our college in the 1970s. If Yale wants to be in the leadership business, as it purports, it won’t be found in a “Suite of Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives” or in assuaging the hurt feelings of ill-at-ease weepers. Wait until real adversity strikes, say, with a terrorist attack. Will we be able to count on this generation to defend our homeland, to be the ones to leap out of foxholes with bayonets in their teeth?

Very real questions about Yale’s role in building world leaders have to be asked. If its administrators won’t, others must. Mother Yale is not a wet nurse, but she has long since passed the point of no return in condoning unacceptable conduct. What can Yale do now to show that it is still training great, strong-minded thinkers with the stamina to withstand discomfort? Now, there’s a question for President Salovey.

 

iv. Blake Neff, The Daily Caller News Foundation, 11/9/15 [dailycaller.com]
v. President Salovey’s Official Message to the Yale Community 11/6/15,
vi, “An Excellent Faculty is a Diverse Faculty” Statement by President Salovey to Yale Faculty 11/3/15
vii. Report of the College Working Group on Diversity and Inclusion, Harvard University, November 2015
viii. The Princeton Sit-In, Princeton Agrees to Consider Removing a President’s Name, 11/19/15
ix. Open Letter to President Eisgruber from the Princeton Open Campus Coalition, Facebook, 11/15
x. Yale Daily News, many editions.
xi. “The Death of Common Sense,” by Philip K. Howard, 1994, Random House

 

Please comment below. Thanks.

Back to Yale ’62 Home

Comments
  • Post a comment

    Threaded commenting powered by interconnect/it code.

  • Bill Wheeler (wine) June 8, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    Hi Bill, I’m a bit late in reading the Yale notes, but, hey, we Californians have always been a bit behind, except of course in the important things. Like beautiful weather, gorgeous views, real skiing, blond and tanned bodies..so tantalizingly available..or so it used to seem. But I digress. The point of this comment is to congratulate you on your fearless and, in my humble opinion, absolutely correct description of the long voyage downward that Yale seems to be travelling since our day.

    Who would have imagined this scruffy descent into name calling and disrespect to our teachers and institution? We were motivated to get the best we could out of this gift that we had somehow been given. That’s not to say that we always behaved as our mothers’ would have liked, but we had a goal: to learn, not to proselytize. If we seemed to be gentlemen as well, that was good. So well said, Bill Boyer. And by the way, you look much as you did at Yale. How is that possible when many of us look our age? And I do remember our summer in Mexico, with…the other fellow? You must come down to San Miguel de Allende before we sell our lovely house. Best regards, Bill Wheeler

  • Bill Boyer February 25, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    Thanks, Bill, for noticing.
    By the way, there is also a lively debate exchange in comments to Steve Buck’s response to mine on this website.

  • Bill Sullivan February 25, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    I congratulate Bill Boyer on the restraint showed in his original posting and in his back and forth with those who took issue with him, even if none of them gave sufficient (in my opinion) attention to the concepts of civil dialogue and open inquiry. Missing from the whole debate seem to be the two words that should have been said to Ms. Luther (and the rest of the snowflakes): Grow up!

  • Bill Boyer December 12, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    It is reported by the Yale Daily News that both of the Christakis’s are leaving Yale for a sabatical, because, as Erika stated: . . . the “campus climate at Yale is not ‘conducive to the civil dialogue and open inquiry required to solve our urgent societal problems.’”
    So much for free speech.

  • Henry C. Childs December 9, 2015 at 9:53 am

    Dear Terry, (alias “ensign”, I am sorry to have missed you – and so many others – at our 50th., but I am trying to restrain my charging around a bit, as my mouth, at least from time to time. It is odd that I should remember that goal scored against us, except it was one of the very few that year, and it made no difference to our championship season.
    While I am at it, I must applaud Chip’s comments, having overlooked Bill’s sad dismissal of Black Live Matter in his original letter.

  • Chip Neville December 8, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    PS. You know, police behavior towards black people eventually spills over into their behavior towards white people. This rather famously happened in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 70s. WE ALL HAVE A VITAL STAKE IN CORRECT POLICE BEHAVIOR.

  • Chip Neville December 8, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    I agree completely with Lee Bolman, who put it far better than I ever could. You know, we have, and have had since BEFORE the Civil War, an epidemic of police violence against black people. Sure, in Chicago, to take one example, a black kid is far more likely to be murdered by some depraved gang banger than a white cop. But it doesn’t help that 75% of the people killed by police since 1975, I think the year was, have been black. It surely doesn’t help people feel secure when they have to worry about their sons being at the wrong end of a gun held by a black policeman, as Charles Blow so eloquently recounted. And it certainly doesn’t help if the police can do this with impunity, as has become apparent in the New York Times reporting on Chicago. For sure, all lives matter, but we have a black lives matter movement precisely because it is such a life and death problem in the black community.

    Now to the problem at Yale: It is a symptom of the deeper problem in our society. It is also a symptom of a burden all, I hate to use the politically correct phrase but no other is suitably inclusive, people of color bear. If you are black, or yellow, or brown, or Muslim, and someone is disrespectful toward you, you never quite know whether it is racial or personal. Of course the screaming student should have been TOLD to privately and publicly apologize for her behavior. But before we banish her from Yale for life, let us pause for a moment to consider her position. Even old white guys like Bill Boyer and me should do that.

  • Bill Boyer December 5, 2015 at 8:44 pm

    Lee –
    I just wrote a long reply to your gentle letter. But it accidentally erased and I have no energy to reconstruct it. I gave ground on the “symbolism” issue and restated my point more clearly, but I hold fast to the rest.
    // Bill

  • Lee Bolman December 3, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Bill,

    On Jerelyn Luther, we disagree about whether she was engaged in protected free speech. The boundaries around First Amendment speech and around academic freedom are hotly contested, so reasonable people can disagree. But I’m curious about where you draw the line. Is speech not protected if it exceeds a certain decibel level? If it includes four-letter words? If it is impolite?

    On Black Lives Matter, it seems to me that you are affirming that your perspective as a white male is correct, and the perspective of African-Americans is ” wholly misguided.” Mindful of Benjamin Franklin’s urging to each of his fellow delegates at the Constitutional Convention “to doubt a little of his own infallibility,” I’d ask you to consider whether your truth is necessarily the only truth.

    First, why now if things aren’t particularly different this year? Martin Luther King addressed that question in the context of the Montgomery bus boycott, also a protest against a long-standing practice: “And you know, my friends, there comes a time when people get tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression.” For many blacks, a time has come in 2015.

    You may know that it is a commonplace among middle-class African Americans to teach their kids, particularly boys, to be very, very careful in any encounter with the police, for fear that their children will be harmed or killed. I didn’t do that with my kids, and you probably didn’t with yours, because it didn’t seem to be a significant risk. But here’s Charles Blow, an African-American op-ed columnist for the NY Times, writing about an incident when his son, a Yale student, was stopped at gunpoint by a campus police officer because he’d been mistaken for a burglary suspect: “This is the scenario I have always dreaded: my son at the wrong end of a gun barrel, face down on the concrete. I had always dreaded the moment that we would share stories about encounters with the police in which our lives hung in the balance, intergenerational stories of joining the inglorious “club.””

    That’s the “truth” experienced by a large segment of black Americans. Yes, statistically, any of us is more likely to be killed by a family member or a neighbor, probably of our own race, than a police officer. True as well that policing is tough and dangerous work, and officers often have to make split-second decisions, often in murky situations, that may involve life and death. They deserve our support and thanks. But that doesn’t mean a significant segment of the population is wrong to protest based on a conviction that racial profiling is pervasive and that they are at much greater danger than whites in encounters with the police.

    On your comment that we “have too many real issues in America to carry on about symbolic ones.” If symbolic meant unimportant, these issues would not arise in the first place, or they’d be easy to resolve if they did. But most of the “real issues” turn out to be heavily symbolic: they are contested because they raise questions about what we value, how we interpret reality, and what stories we tell about ourselves and our world. Is abortion an issue of choice or murder? Is gay marriage a fundamental right or an offense against God and tradition? Is Black Lives Matter silly or overdue, legitimate protest? Should we give illegal aliens a path to citizenship or deport as many of them as we can? All of these are contested, almost entirely on ideological rather than factual grounds (in part because the ideological differences often make it difficult to agree on what the facts are or which ones are relevant).

    Finally, a thought on today’s kids “raised by parents who applauded every misstep of their childhoods.” The view that the current generation is a great step down has been around over the centuries. Horace in 20BC: ” Our sires’ age was worse than our grandsires’. We, their sons, are more worthless than they; so in our turn we shall give the world a progeny yet more
    corrupt.” On the other hand, my 6th and youngest graduated from college this year. We probably did spoil our “baby” more than we should have, but I just wish I’d been as smart and productive as he is at the same age. I’m not worried so much about the ruined psyches of the youth as about the extremely messy and scary world we’re bequeathing them. A lot of them have the same concern.

  • Lee Bolman December 2, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    Bill Boyer and I were both from Cleveland (he was east, I was west), and both lived in Trumbull, but I think his essay about recent events at Yale is too negative because it misses the larger context.

    I think Bill understands that one characteristic of a good university is that the major issues and controversies of the day will seep through the Ivy walls and become part of the conversation on campus. Ours was a relatively quiet period, but we were listening to Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, and beginning to notice the civil rights battles, personified by Martin Luther King, that were bubbling up in the South. Not long after we graduated, Yale and universities across America erupted in student protests over the Vietnam War. Students in those protests, now in their 60s or 70s, did some of the same things that we’ve seen on campuses this year — holding demonstrations, shouting obscenities, trying to keep speakers they didn’t like off campus, etc.

    Bill’s note dismissively characterizes Black Lives Matter as “absurdist.” I imagine that Bill has noticed that we’ve seen a number of high-profile killings of blacks, usually young males, by white police officers this year. He may also have noticed that in June, nine African-Americans were killed by a white supremacist in a church in Charleston, South Carolina. This may not be so disturbing for affluent white males, but it’s had a powerful galvanizing impact on the African-American community. It’s triggering a major conversation about race, still an unresolved issue in our society. That conversation has naturally moved onto campuses.

    I can’t speak for Bill, but I suffered from a serious shortage of wisdom as an undergraduate and did some pretty dumb things at the time. Among other things, college is a place to grow up. Kids, even very smart ones, sometimes act like kids. Jerelyn Luther did shriek and did use an unabbreviated WTF or two. If you watch the video, it’s clear she was very upset. I understand that her distress may seem disproportionate to the issue of Halloween costumes, but I take it as a cry of pain in response to a much larger issue related to her experience as a young African-American in the U.S. No, she wasn’t polite and she probably fell short of standards of reasoned discourse. But it seems clear to me that she was engaging in political speech. I’m pretty much an absolutist on free speech. You don’t throw someone out of a university because their speech was a bit too loud and didn’t meet your standards of decorum.

    What’s happening at Yale and other campuses is not creating sissies. It’s opening up a field for debate and even heated argument, which is a good thing for a university. Take two issues that Bill alluded to. John C. Calhoun, the namesake of Calhoun College, was perhaps the most formidable defender of slavery in American politics in the 19th century. Woodrow Wilson, whose name looms even larger at Princeton than Calhoun’s at Yale, was a great American in many ways, but was also a racist from the South, not just in his views but in his actions. He kept blacks out of Princeton as president there, and undid part of the legacy of the Civil War by resegregating employment in the federal government when he was President of the United States. Calhoun and Wilson raise symbolic questions similar to those around the confederate flag: we are talking about powerful symbols with very different meanings for different people.

    Yale in 2016 would never choose to name a college after John C. Calhoun, even though Yale in 1932 thought it was a good idea. I don’t think there’s an easy answer to the question of whether we should retain the name or change it. But President Salovey has encouraged the campus community to take that as a question for serious exploration and dialogue, which seems exactly right to me.

    Bill, you’ve been my alumni fund solicitor for years. I’ll keep giving — even if you don’t ask. But I hope you’ll keep asking.

    • Bill Boyer December 3, 2015 at 2:39 am

      Glad to hear from you, Lee. You wrote a balanced response. Here’s where I come out: Jerelyn Luther did this to herself. People who commit bad acts aren’t forgiven just because they never did it before. A line must be drawn somewhere; she should have considered her position as a Yale senior before misbehaving in such an overt and outrageous manner. There MUST be consequences to bad behavior. Evidently she didn’t learn this at home, like make other youngsters today, [and that’s a conversation for another day.] She must suffer for her grievous error, or Yale has no honor at all to uphold.

      And yes, Black Lives Matter is nonsensical & absurd. There is nothing new about this year’s killing of black people by white police. But when you compare black on black crime, or white on white crime, white cops on blacks is an irrelevant statistic. The sudden 2015 outrage is absurd, growing out of wholly misguided rabble rousers at Ferguson, for example, like Al Sharpton [just two words for him: “Tawana Brawley”]. What we have today is Twitter, Facebook and all sorts of social media making flash floods into raindrops. Black Lives Matter is about shouting, anger, violence and wrong conclusions. Talk to some inner-city cops, if you can. Baltimore came unglued AFTER the silly young mayor ordered her cops to back off. Tough policing is a necessary reality, regardless of skin color.

      As for Calhoun and Wilson, why eviscerate them NOW? There are no perfect idols. Why waste so much energy on this? We have too many real issues in America to carry on about symbolic ones. The kids in college today have been raised by parents who applauded every misstep of their childhoods. Of course they don’t appreciate a free $60,000/year education or know how to respect authority. So much was handed to them, they never learned. And Yale isn’t teaching this lesson now, evidently.

      • Bill Boyer December 3, 2015 at 2:41 am

        Sorry, that was “raindrops into flash floods,” prior to my erroneous edit.

  • John Carr December 2, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    I expect that there will be some in our class who disagree with Bill’s eloquent straight-talk, but I at least am glad to learn that I am not an outlier in my own reactions. However, Bill’s essay and the comments have caused me – somewhat – to pull in my own horns and give President Salovey – whom I have considered a mouse (Bill’s observation that Salovey’s professional persona governs his behavior is instructive) – opportunity to make good on his promised commitment to free speech at Yale. And, may I add, execrable as was her conduct, I’m not in favor of expelling Ms. Luther. To me, her obvious high emotion suggests motivations genuine if misguided, the outflow from something other than political calculation. Rude and obnoxious as she was – and, to boot, fully desirous of casting the master of Silliman and his wife out of Yale – she is a senior at Yale and it would not be conscionable to deprive her of the fruit of that endeavor except for some actions or behaviors more egregious.

  • Henry C. Childs December 2, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    Hats off to Bill Boyer for summoning up the spirit of our memories while taking into account the challenges of all that has transpired since we left Yale. As a Japanese Studies major, I have always lent an eye to diversity as a catalyst for clear thinking. But should anyone act in Japan as that screamer did, or in any other country I have been privileged to travel in, there would be swift and severe consequences. Yale must try to lead this country out of its growing culture of acquiescence, not follow it. Inclusion is essential for all citizens, but not through such disgraceful behaviour.

    • Terry Culver December 8, 2015 at 9:35 pm

      Dear Henry: I missed you at the 50th Reunion. I was rather hoping to have found you once again charging around the Old Campus trying to foist off on me now flea-infested freshman soccer team numerals which I’d recalcitrantly declined in 1958. ( I had gotten into one measly game as the fourth string goalie — Orange State Teachers or some such — and come out too far and had to gapingly watch as a lazy pop-up went over my befuddled head and into the net). Henry, I just want you to know that had you been there and on the same mission, I would have been easy to tackle — and not just because I have a dropped left foot and don’t get around much too evasively anymore. Your pal, Terry Culver, St. Louis

  • Bill Weber December 2, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    I was the local Director of the Alumni Schools Committee for 49 years and interviewed all sort of fine young men and women, both here in NYS, Ca. and England. I sensed a shift in both the type of applicant as well as the admission’s dept. to admit more “save the world” types as well the latest trend for the academic superstars of Asian origins. Few athletes seemed to apply and many good solid young men who reminded me of myself of years ago with a moderately successful family seemed to be rejected in favour of the ones with apparently higher intellects, based most likely on test scores and high school grades. I asked the question on many of my interview reports as to the potential of the candidate to excel in the future business and cultural world. I never got the impression that many of the student’s qualities mattered as much as the apparent academic performance. In this part of NYS I had few POC’s to consider in the beginning and then saw the trend move to more POC’s applying and admitted. The last straw for me was being asked to resign from the Schools Committee for suggesting an Asian applicant who I knew was going to Princetion not to be considered over a fine young lady from a very local high school. I had a few long telecons with Jeff Brenzel (the Dean of Admissions at the time) on this issue and hold no ill will for him, as he was simply reflecting the current trend of political correctness and desire not to have the US Dept. of Education see my tainted emails.
    So–Yale has created a mess better described by others in this comment section and I wonder both how we have gone wrong and what it might take to fix it. One of my Grand Daughters will be applying to colleges next year; what should I tell her?
    You may recall some of my earlier statements on the gas drilling issue and its effect on my political career. I had my share of screamers and true believers (of the Eric Hoffer brand!) and recognise that logic and reason does not always prevail!
    Bill Weber, New Haven A&M, aka Yale College!

  • George Snider December 2, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    Two concepts appear to have taken root at today’s more liberal institutions: (1) that anyone who is not a happily heterosexual white male is “oppressed”; and (2) that the prevention of speech deemed hurtful by those who feel oppressed should trump the expression of such speech every time (the First Amendment be damned). President Salovey’s dilemma is how to keep the lid on things while protecting the values of free speech and a Yale education. While he may be succeeding so far, what is next for Next Yale? Once they remove the name of Calhoun at Yale (or Wilson at Princeton), what more will those not-so-precious Snowflakes demand? Congratulations to Bill Boyer for a thought-provoking article.

  • Phil Proctor December 2, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    So – I guess the University has become a Di-versity!

    Here follows the text of an upcoming episode of BOOMERS which deals with the subject from the perspective of me (P) and (J) my comic partner, Jamie Alcroft. You can see more of us at: Enjoy!

    P: I just don’t get it.

    J: I know.

    P: This student PC movement. What does that mean these days?

    J: PC? Partially Conscious? Practically Crazy? Perversely Confused?

    P: Pretty Creepy! Who are these losers, anyway?

    J: Wait a minute! In the PC world, there are no losers anymore. There are runners-up, third-place winners and everybody gets a CP.

    P: How does being a PC get you a CP?

    J: Z! It’s a “Certificate of Participation”, get it?

    P: So, nobody loses, everybody wins — where’s the lesson of failure?

    J: Falling on your face, doesn’t mean your losing face.

    P:So you never have to face it?

    J: Right on. PC stands for “Pleasant Consequences.”

    P: Or Pointless Competition…

    J: Hey! Don’t get micro-aggressive on me!

    P: Micro-aggressive? Who’s ass did you pull that out of?

    J: It’s a super-sensitive form of Political Correctness.

    P: What’s so correct about being political? We all know that politicians are lying, duplicitous, prevaricating, insincere, two-faced, double-dealing, deceitful, mendacious, elected representatives who we trust unconditionally to lead us inexorably to a better future.

    J: You are politically correct, sir!

    P: Man, you don’t have a PC bone in your body, do you?

    J: Sure I do. I’ve got a Posterior Cranium.

    P: Doesn’t that mean your head’s up your ass?

    J: Sometimes. But it’s better than living in Pittsburg.

    • Bill Boyer December 2, 2015 at 2:45 pm

      God bless you, Phil. You and your comic partner have overlaid the conversation with appropriate wit, a perfect response to our current PC foolishness.

      • Phil Proctor December 2, 2015 at 4:43 pm

        Thanks, Bill. Your analysis is very inspiring and thought-provoking, and I’m always proud to support our brilliant class. This “draft”, with a few typos (do we have an “edit” prompt, by the way???) has just been thoroughly rewritten for our taping this Sunday, but I hope it does offer a satiric perspective to a serious subject — that’s my job! Love to all.

  • Ken Lockridge December 2, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    The fairly honest reporting on patents, investments, unions, Singapore and fortified
    drug company campuses in the YAM plus the assumption of a master’s authority inappropriately
    , frequently by ex-preppies, was long ago enough to stop my inconsequential donations. I made the most of a ” geographic” quota admission that I now know was designed to block out other sorts of applicants, and far exceeding my predicted average was my apology to those others, and my thanks to Yale. The young woman in the video episode is mistaken in expecting a home, and her rudeness has now gone viral, punishment enough. I arrived at Michigan in the midst of similar episodes, but was lucky enough to hear a young man from the Black Action Movement say, ” I can’t find my history in the histories you teach. ” Right on, brother. That changed my life. I went on being a tough and supportive teacher, but in my research and graduate teaching became open to a many-voiced history, and it has been a great trip into a meaningful, choral history. Along the way we became close to several families in Detroit and through our lives, children, and now deaths, we are still together. I don’t know what you gents see as your mission, and I understand that at that moment the young woman would bring out the worst in anyone, myself included, but for all of us there is great peace in learning to live our lives as together as we can be. There is no other way.Get out of your fortresses, all of you, every chance you get, and LEARN about each other. It takes time, so much time, With trust comes lifelong learning. Having destroyed the world in so many other ways, at least we can go out in style.

  • David Honneus December 2, 2015 at 11:45 am

    First, as a public high school graduate, I was an early “affirmative action” admission when Yale was seeking to leaven the prep school domination of Yale. But, I was delighted to be at Yale and felt more than fortunate to be there. Discovered The Dramat and never looked back. Second, whatever we think or believe Yale has become, Yale it is still a private university. The students at the Univ. of Missouri, being at a public, tax supported institution, do have both a point and I believe a right, to protest. Students at Yale, again a private institution, have the right to protest but need to understand that they attend at the pleasure of Yale. If I had lost it and screamed at Duke Henning at Saybrook, I would have been asked to take a year off and return with better manners. Lastly, President Salovey at the Assembly said that students wee suffering great “anxiety” and need help. I would like to tell current undergraduates that have no idea what levels of anxiety await them in the cold cruel world!! Jobs in jeopardy, families with crises, mortgages, etc. Anxiety, indeed!!

  • Alex Garvin December 2, 2015 at 11:28 am

    FYI: On one of my recent visits to Yale (where I teach on Tuesdays), I was told by undergraduates that the famous “Halloween” letter ought to have had nothing to do with current controversies. It has been sent out regularly for many years. Apparently news is “fabricated entertainment” by other than just Donald Trump.