A new cultural group is appearing on campus, and with it, a novel approach to handling problems of racism and ignorance. Scots at Yale, a Scottish and Scottish-American heritage organization, has a two-fold purpose: to celebrate and study Scottish culture and history, while providing a way for Scots, as a community, to join in the discussions of diversity at Yale. The group will hold its first meeting Sunday, Dec. 16, at 8:00 pm in the Saybrook College Common Room.
Many have said that white students at Yale don’t need cultural heritage organizations. “Yale’s history is overwhelmingly white,” they say, “and Yale is a European-style university in a majority-white country. Just look around you: being white is normal, so there’s no need to organize.” This kind of thinking is precisely why our white students desperately need cultural heritage organizations like Scots at Yale. It is also the reason that no such organization has existed until today.
When a student assumes that being white is the norm, he automatically labels non-white people as “abnormal,” or more often, “ethnic.” A student who believes he is not “ethnic” separates himself from the crucial dialogue surrounding diversity at Yale and in the world at large. By connecting Scottish-American students with their heritage, Scots at Yale hopes to give them the tools to responsibly participate in this dialogue. The Scots hope to join as an ally on the front lines of the fight against racism.
Scots at Yale seeks to tell Scottish-American students, and white students in general: You are not “normal.” Nobody gets to be normal, if that makes others abnormal. Nobody gets to be special. We’re all in this together, and all of us have cultural heritage to share.
Now imagine a German-American cultural organization, a Polish-American cultural organization, etc. In a few years, a Caucasian-American or European-American cultural house could be founded, just in time for America’s whites to lose their numerical majority status.
As for Scottish culture, the Scots at Yale have plenty to offer. Look forward to more bagpipes and drums and kilts. Look forward to caber-tosses, shot-puts, and the throwing of heavy things in general. Scottish cuisine isn’t much to brag about, but look forward to our fine, single malt whiskies.
Edwin Everhart ’09
Everhart is the founder of Scots at Yale and the co-coordinator of Amnesty International at Yale.