Watching a stream of dancers glide across the podium in front of Sterling Memorial Library, philosophy major Stephanie Wu ’03 reasoned the stage must be set for an elaborate ballroom dance show. The dancers, she thought, must be practicing late into the night in preparation.
That the stage might have another purpose never crossed her mind.
Hers is the reaction that makes Univerisity officials cringe: While administrators, alumni and anxious freshmen whip out their pointed party hats, most Yalies are uninformed and uninterested, and plan to spend this tercentennial weekend as they would any other.
“There’s only a certain kind of person who would think, ‘Yeah, Yale’s 300, let’s go party,'” Dale Park ’03 said. “It’s kind of a dorky thing to go out and party for.”
Much of this apathy comes from not knowing about what is going on. Despite e-mails from the administration, most Yalies are clueless — even the ones who should be in the know.
Freshman counselor Rachel Garoff ’02 said she feels bad when her frosh ask her what to expect, because she does not know.
Her enthusiasm must be contagious.
“I just don’t care,” John Chen ’05 said. “I don’t know how else to put it.”
Brothers Greg Bewley GRD ’06 and Benoit Bewley ’05 are bound by apathy as well as by blood.
As the brothers chatted Thursday on the white chairs covering Cross Campus, they realized this was the most they would see of the Tercentennial.
“I don’t really even know what’s happening,” said Greg Bewley, who did not sign up for tickets to either Clinton’s speech or the Yale Bowl Festival.
He plans to spend his weekend sailing.
Benoit Bewley at least will spend the weekend on campus — just not this one. He’s off to visit friends at Princeton this weekend. He expressed a preference for a university that has yet to hit its 300-year mark and thus lacks “boring” celebrations.
Even among those who are going to the Yale Bowl, some will be like Anya Meksin ’04, a member of the Yale Slavic Chorus. She got drafted.
Meksin will not shirk her duty toward her alma mater this weekend.
“I will walk around in my little outfit and sing to people and make them happy,” she explained.
Meksin insisted this does not make her a dork. The Tercentennial, she said, is not her “type of thing.”
But even if it were, Meksin said she has too much work to really participate. With Clinton right outside, Meksin, like many Yalies, will spend the weekend in Sterling writing a paper and studying.
As in so many other Yale events, the Tercentennial calls for a little — um — fortification.
“The only way she will be seen at a Tercentennial event is if I get really drunk and am dragged to it,” Jazmine Leon ’03 said.
The joy of 300 years of breeding the nation’s leaders seems to have left the next generation cold. They think they’re too cool.
“I’ve never been much into the parties the University throws,” Avi Robinson-Mosher ’04 said.
“I am not at all hyped about it,” Wu said. “It’s not like it’s Exotic Erotic.”
Even Carl Hungerford ’03, who planned on going to several of the events, did not know why.
“I’m going because,” he began, then paused. “I don’t know. Why am I going?”
At least sex still sells: Cross Campus proved too small to accomodate all the students who wanted to hear former President Bill Clinton’s address.
Traces of positive attitudes are not extinct on campus. Many freshmen know why they’re going.
“It really feels historical and like something in the future I will be glad I went to,” Marisa Benoit ’05 said.
Sylvia Glassco ’05 will perform with the marching band and march in the convocation.
“To me, the Tercentennial is just one more fun thing to do,” she said. “It’s an excuse to be proud of going to Yale.”