Salovey on Free Expression;
Curbing Sexual Abuse; Sharing Careers;
Improving Public Health

By David Finkle

President Salovey and dean Holloway were everything you’d hope — forthcoming, witty, understanding and personal. That they rhyme is accidental and incidental.

President Salovey insisted that Yale’s commitment to freedom of expression will not be compromised during the current discomfort over issues of race. He also referred to the letter he’d sent earlier in the week, the contents of which don’t need repeating here. Typically maintaining a hearty demeanor, he declared that the news-making situation actually offered him the opportunity to make Yale a leader in the resulting societal changes. Dean Holloway, an historian who teaches post-emancipation United States history, was especially eloquent when, speaking as a light-skinned black man, he talked about his own experiences, which included — he got laughs for this — an eight-pound weight loss over the last few weeks.

Upsetting as the last few weeks have been for Yale — and alumni, of course — what the president and the dean had to say was reassuring, though it was clear nothing will happen instantly.

Sexual conduct. Another area where instantaneous improvement is unlikely to happen was outlined in a talk deputy provost Stephanie Spangler and assistant dean Melanie Boyd led about sexual conduct on campus. The major segment of the presentation was their discussing the results of a survey taken on the disturbing issue. It was even more disturbing in regard to the high percentages of various assaults and harassments. They did make plain that students and, yes, faculty involved had several places to turn for help. They also acknowledged that the forty-five minutes allotted them to offer their insights was hardly enough.

Cluster reunions and career sharing. By the way, the above-mentioned assemblies took place on Friday, which also included any number of sessions devoted to how alumni can enhance their activities among their classes and in contact with undergrads. Two particularly intriguing possibilities emerged while I was listening hard.

The first is something called—get this!—a “cluster reunion.” Apparently the classes of ’71, ’72 and ’73 decided to reunite together a few months ago. Though the two alumni and one alumna reporting on it confessed it was hard work, they maintained it had been well worth it.

The second is a program dubbed “Careers, Life, and Yale” or CLAY, through which alumni can, as the wording goes, “share career and life experiences with Yale students to help them develop career plans and life skills.” Sounds like a great idea to me.

Public Health – a Yale gift to the globe. And now to Yale and public health, the sessions for which took place, not surprisingly on the Yale Medical School campus. I say “not surprisingly,” but that campus came as a big surprise to me, since I’d never been on it. Do you know where Cedar Street is, which is the location of the Sterling Hall of Medicine? I didn’t either, but there it is — and where it served as the focal point of what just happens to be the one-hundredth anniversary of the school founded in 1915 by bacteriologist Charles Edward Amory Winslow.

The main thrust of the Thursday meetings there was, first, to make certain that alumni are aware there is a thriving public health school; second, to excite alumni on what’s happening now; and, third, to alert alumni aware on steps to take to aid public health. I’d say all goals were met. The school — with those matriculated arriving from all over and then setting out for all over — is obviously a significant gift from Yale to the globe.


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1 comment to AYA Fall 2015

  • Paul Torop

    The protestors want to feel more secure at Yale, but no matter how many concessions they gain, they are likely to end up feeling more different and more alienated from the dominant culture. And no matter how much we sympathize with them, though I suspect that there will be limited sympathy from those of us who came to Yale and discovered the implications of our families not being part of America’s Ruling Class, it won’t make them more comfortable. Their children and grandchildren will be more secure when they come to Yale. Some of the protestors will undoubtedly become Old Blues, appreciating the advantages–economic, social, and preferential admissions standards for their children. They will develop an appreciation for Yale’s history and past culture. I’m sure that what they want to do is to change the present culture now. I wish them success, though I think that for their own lives it would be best for them to take a step back and have a sense of irony about their being in a place that in the past would have excluded them.

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