We’ve all heard about Harvard’s stringent tailgating and alcohol policies for the upcoming Yale-Harvard football game on Saturday. On Nov. 7, the Yale Daily News ran a piece reporting that no student groups had applied to host a tailgate by the application deadline. It would seem that some Yale students are opting out of The Game’s festivities in protest against Harvard’s new restrictions.
For some students, however, abstaining from these festivities may not be a choice. The News reported on Oct. 31 that the Council of Masters is no longer subsidizing buses to and from Boston, leaving students to pick up the $60 tab on their own. Students who make the trip to Payne Whitney Gymnasium to purchase tickets for The Game may be surprised to find that the cost of a student ticket is $15, three times as much as Yalies paid last year to go to The Game here in New Haven. Add to that the price of food in an expensive city and the cost of drinks (now that our tailgates can’t provide them for free), and a Yalie should expect to spend a minimum of $100 on this tradition shared by generations of Yale students since 1875.
As an institution that prides itself on diversity, need-blind admissions and a strong financial aid program, for Yale to ask us to spend $100-plus on such a celebrated part of its student experience is hypocritical. While $100 may not seem like much to some Yalies, for others, who calculate their expenses in hours worked, it is prohibitive. One hundred dollars is the cost of two used textbooks or a one-way flight home for Thanksgiving break.
On Nov. 7, the News reported on the reasons given by the Council of Masters for ceasing to subsidize transportation to The Game. Judith Krauss, the chairwoman of the Council of Masters, explained that because tickets on the subsidized buses were only $5, many students purchased tickets and then did not ride the bus, causing Yale to spend money unnecessarily. The Council of Masters’ solution to this problem was to stop subsidizing buses entirely. Alternatively, the council could have followed the precedent set by Berkeley College for other outings: having students put down a $20 deposit for their bus seat, refundable upon participation. This small modification would ensure that students who buy tickets actually intend to take the bus.
It is disturbing that the Council of Masters privileged its own concerns about costs and the “administrative nightmare” of organizing buses over equal access to a time-honored Yale student tradition. Still more disturbing is the way that Yalies have seemingly ignored the potential of these changes to alienate a large portion of our student body. With all the student outrage over the new tailgate restrictions, there has been a disappointing lack of outrage over the transformation of this year’s Yale-Harvard Game into a classist event. This is a profound misprioritization of values on our campus that we hope does not indicate a broader lack of dialogue and awareness surrounding the socioeconomic diversity that Yale so prides itself on.
If we find ourselves beside an empty seat at The Game this Saturday, we should remember that protesting the strict control of alcohol at the tailgates is, sadly, not the only reason a classmate might be missing from the Yale student section of the stadium.
Karen Bemis, Carolynn Molleur-Hinteregger and Amanda Wittenstein are seniors in Berkeley College.