Elitism on display in News’ pages

To the Editor:

The snobbery, elitism, and arrogance displayed in today’s three editorials represent the absolute worst of our community.

The News’ staff editorial mentions the University’s inadequate pension plan, yet criticizes the workers who are striking to realize these much-needed changes. Indeed striking is difficult, and comes at great cost to the striking workers, but what right do privileged Ivy League students writing editorials have to tell workers when it is or is not appropriate for them to stand up for themselves? Despite massive union petitions, rallies and marches featuring prominent national figures calling on President Levin to submit to binding arbitration, the Yale Daily News continues to parrot the administration’s line that workers are not seriously interested in settling the contract.

James Kirchick’s piece, in a disturbing departure from his previous work, is simply divorced from reality. Kirchick describes a “proud …exultant” John Wilhelm bragging that the Union’s toughness had led to the “victory” of shutting down the freshman convocation. The 1,000 of us who attended the rally saw something completely different. A subdued, soft-spoken Wilhelm did announce a “bittersweet victory” and eloquently he explained his frustration and sadness as a Yale alumnus that administrators cancelled the event.

By printing Kirchick’s erroneous figures regarding Yale’s pension proposals, the Yale Daily News furthermore irresponsibly propagates patent falsehoods.

Ironically, it’s Lee Ngo’s piece, the one most “sympathetic” to the workers, that best embodies the arrogance and self-importance with which some Yale undergraduates view the strike. Ngo describes being a proud union supporter in one moment, waving to a crowd of strikers who largely respond in turn, until one protester mistakes his support for heckling. When one of a crowd responds unkindly, Ngo suddenly has a change of heart, and “at that moment, the unions no longer had [his] sympathy.” Ngo bemoans the fact that no one has given him a reason to support the strike, as though simply by virtue of his privileged status as a Yale undergraduate he’s entitled to be personally wooed by John Wilhelm. Lee: There’s a really simple reason to support the strike if you open your eyes — it’s because people that we know and love from our dining halls, our colleges, our buildings, and our community are in a struggle for their lives and well-being.

I find it difficult to endure the common criticism of our University — that it is a snobby bastion of elitism. After reading the fair and balanced writing in today’s Yale Daily News, however, I understood more clearly than ever how those outside our community could get that impression. I know that our school is better than what was represented on today’s editorials page.



Thomas Frampton ’06

September 3, 2003

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