AYA Assembly Report by Deborah Post – “Creating Communities at Yale”
Deborah Post, our class AYA representative, submits the following report about this year’s AYA Assembly in New Haven in November:
“Report from the 2017 Yale Alumni Assembly
First things first: Yale can be found on Sports Illustrated’s list of the 100 Best Colleges for Sports Lovers. The campus was filled with football cheer in anticipation of the Big Game that Saturday. In addition to football, Yale won championships this year in crew, baseball, sailing, women’s swimming and gymnastics.
The Alumni Assembly LXXVII was titled “Creating Communities at Yale”, a seemingly ho-hum theme that actually pulled together some disparate issues. Paralleling the decade long building spree, Yale nurtured the birth of many new communities — be they identity groups, shared interest groups, academic niches, art pursuits, cultural organizations — with the goal of promoting connectivity, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and innovation, all in the pursuit of excellence. Each community was to have its own state of the art “space”, a permanent home, a bricks and mortar reality contrasting with fleeting virtual realities.
The fabulous Adams Center for the Musical Arts, the Office of LGBTQ Resources, and the transformed Wright Lab all opened recently. The Hall of Graduate Studies will soon morph into a hub for all humanities, the Schwarzman Center is in process, the Queer Center will open next year, the cross disciplinary Science Building is under construction, and the Tsai Center for Innovation is in planning.
Tours of the new spaces present mind-boggling “check your privilege” moments as one moves through stunning amphitheaters, unrivaled science laboratories, and residential colleges replete with dance studios, gourmet dining offerings, basketball courts, media rooms, pubs, and private rooms. Yale may indeed have the most fabulous and diverse physical facility of any school in the country, still largely housed in those gothic structures we love.
So many new and different ways to associate oneself on campus has expanded and changed the Yale experience. One unintended consequence of promoting diverse communities across Yale has been a decline in residential college life and identification, a steady weakening of the bonding so important to those friendships formed at Yale.
Thirty percent of juniors and forty percent of seniors choose to live off campus. The reasons given range from the desire to eat more healthily (seriously?) to the desire to party with more flexibility to making a profit off of financial aid. (Apparently it is deemed discriminatory to require board to be spent on campus.) The administration appeared honestly stymied by these complex problems posed by beer, food and money grants.
President Salovey continued his mantra of .nurturing excellence, providing an unparalleled education, and insuring Yale remains the best. No sharing for Yale when it comes to being #1.
Responding to the inevitable alumni question re the proposed endowment tax the President noted that a 1.4% tax on endowment income would cost Yale $25 to $30 million annually. Gasp or back into the implied math . Yale objects, rationalizing that the university is more suited to, and capable of, deciding how to spend its resources on social good than the government. Is that a conservative, liberal or populist argument?
Interesting stat: 85% of Yalies graduate debt-free.
I skipped the awards dinner opting instead to go see Dreamgirls at the Yale Dramat, a sparkling focus on female black empowerment and definitely the right choice.
The Yale Glee Club dueled, as is tradition, with the Harvard Glee Club the night before the Game. Although the still all male Harvard singers were adorable, they were no match for the larger Yale choir fronted by a double row of beautiful black gowned Yale women whose voices powered Yale’s uncontested choral win.”