600 new students — or El Salvador?

Ever since our university announced that it was considering building two new residential colleges for $600 million, we Yalies have been subjected to a steady trickle of idiotic complaining. “It’ll violate our community spirit,” some students whine. “There hasn’t been enough transparency,” others insist as if it means something.

Worst of all, no one has even thought to mention the main problem with the new colleges: that Yale is proposing to spend $600 million in order to add just 600 students to our ranks. Why hasn’t the University explored better ways to expand?

“Increasing Yale’s scope,” President Levin told the Herald last year, “means making the University more international.” Levin and the rest of the Yale administration should stand by those words: Instead of dumping millions of dollars into two new residential colleges, Yale should use the money to build a bridge into the global community by acquiring the Central American nation of El Salvador.

I admit that this is an unprecedented plan, but Yale is a university that has not shied away from innovation in its past. And it is true that El Salvador is not really for sale — but this, like all problems, is easily resolved with a bit of imagination and an eighteen-wheeler full of cash.

According to Wikipedia, El Salvador’s defense budget was $160 million in 2005, considerably less than one percent of Yale’s $22 billion endowment. Without dipping too far into our financial reserves — or significantly exceeding the price of the new residential colleges — we could likely gain the loyalty of their entire military by way of a generous buyout package. Should the El Salvadorian military prove stubborn or resistant, it may be necessary to hire outside help to secure control of the country. Incidentally, I hear that Blackwater’s military contractors are looking for new projects, having completed their wildly successful campaign in Iraq.

El Salvador is a nation with a hardworking populace and a rich cultural heritage, which will benefit the University far more than two new residential colleges. Rather than adding space for some six hundred scholars, Yale can expand its dominion to include the 6.9 million inhabitants of El Salvador — a ten-thousand-fold greater return!

El Salvador’s range of terrain and infrastructure will be a boon to a University that, having placarded all the “weenie bins” in Bass Library, is now down to endowing the individual nosehairs of its faculty (The “Philosophy Department” option costs $80 and comes with a no-tweeze guarantee, FYI). Yale’s creative fundraisers will surely make the most of a country’s worth of naming rights — possibilities include the Wright River, the Thain Family Missile Defense System, and the Sterling-Whitney-Woolsey-Lanman-Bass Memorial Capital, which a recalcitrant student population would refuse to stop calling “S-dub.”

Ruled by fiat from the safety of New Haven, El Salvador will be a great proving ground for student-generated political theories. In particular, I think the standard of debate between Yale Political Union members will be vastly improved by the threat of having their ideas actually put into practice. The same goes for the YCC.

In time, we could move Yale’s entire base of operations into a walled enclave in the capital, thus becoming the first warm-weather Ivy. Until then, a satellite campus in our newfound nation would afford Yale’s biologists an unmatched opportunity to explore the biodiversity of the lush El Salvadorian jungle, and provide to our psychology researchers a vast pool of willing participants for five-dollar behavioral studies.

As the El Salvadorians would do well to realize, this plan will not just benefit Yale. Immediately after the takeover, the nation will begin to feel the nourishing effects of gentrification. Entire villages will be revitalized by the introduction of a single J. Crew, while rundown carts hawking questionable “indigenous” food items will quickly give way to an immaculate legion of Au Bon Pains.

China would greet El Salvadorian diplomats with banners and guided tours, and would finally begin to return their phone calls. The El Salvadorian treasury will flourish in the hands of financial genius David Swensen GRD ’80, under whose supervision Yale’s endowment rose an astounding 28 percent — about $5 billion — in 2007. According to the CIA World Factbook, the El Salvadorian government took in just $3.5 billion in the same time frame, and the country’s GDP rose only 3.4 percent. Surely, Yale’s brain trust will bring with it an economic and political golden age for El Salvadorians.

Today, Yale has an astronomical amount of money. Yet, instead of using this windfall intelligently, we are planning to fritter away $600 million on two buildings that everyone knows are going to end up being ugly. This will not do. We must take the bold route; we must seize the day; we must annex El Salvador before Harvard beats us to it.

Michael Zink is a junior in Saybrook College. His column runs on alternate Fridays.


  • Booooo.

    Aside from the obvious problem that this article uses outdated racist stereotypes, it's also poorly edited. People who live in El Salvador are called "Salvadorans," not "El Salvadorians." Look it up in the AP Stylebook -- if you YDN editors even have a copy.

  • El Salvador people


  • anonymous

    Hilarious. Love it. In a time when the YDN op-eds have been moody and abrasive, Yale needs some satire.

  • Concerned Student

    I realize the article is satire, and really it is superbly written and incredibly hilarious, but don't you think it's a bit insulting to El Salvador? Such a charged article could cause not only a rift with the El Salvadorian student population at Yale, but also could hamper relations with the country itself. Perhaps you'd be better off proposing something serious the university could do with its $5 billion windfall.

  • Anonymous

    Zink, you have too much free time.

  • Chump

    The Yale Corporation has already considered this. The proposal was voted down because the Yale Club of Langley already had plans for that piece of real estate, with neighboring parcels being occupied by its tenants.

  • My Father is an El Salvadorian

    El Salvador's population, with a median age of 22, would likely be receptive to college town life.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with PP this is insulting. Although it doesn't surprise me at all that a Yale student would use El Salvador for whatever benefit, including the benefit of writing witty satire. Problem is, it kind of undermines the witty satire to be doing the thing you are satirizing. Don't you think?
    Maria, from El Salvador (ie. I am a SALVADORAN)

  • Ernesto

    Satire or plain arrogance by a student with an over abundance of literary creativity but zero life experience?

    Your sense of humor belittles many my fine feathered friend and I a Salvadorian would have rather hoped to see you put your creative juices to writing your message without offending a developing country, whether it be El Salvador, Burma, or Ivory Coast.

    Your analysis does illustrate two things: a university with a budget it may be ill spending and a student who will undoubtedly benefit from an "internationalization" campaign at Yale.

  • Anonymous

    What is he insulting about El Salvador? That they are not all that wealthy? Oh the horrors!

    Apart from the fact that he specifically cited the good nature of the people, the entire article is based on the premise of El Salvador being a good place.

    Posters 1,8,9: Your outrage over the incorrect nomenclature is laughably petty. But the best chuckle is that "Ernesto", in jumping on the band wagon didn't quite make it all the way on: Salvadorian? Salvadoran. How could you not know!

  • A SalvadorAn

    Laughably petty? It is our NATIONALITY thank you very much. Try being called "United Statesian" by someone making a satire out of YOUR contry and then we'll talk. I thought Yale was supposed to be full of intellectually stimulating people, not columnists making pathetic attempts at being "witty" at the expense of other students' countries.

  • American Citizen

    Greetings to all, I was born in El Salvador, I am Salvadorian by birth but proud to be an American citizen. I am sorry to read that one of your students can think very poorly about El Salvador to the point of suggesting to buyout the military. I was questioning the fact why he did not choose another country where we read and hear about governments and leaders killing their own people in the name of race cleansing. It is very sad!

  • Anon

    Beware satirists, multiculturalists have no sense of humor and will use any excuse to shriek racism.

  • Guanaco

    As a Salvadoran-American I find this article not very insulting, but still distasteful. I recognize my country of roots is small but I cant get completely angry at someone who at least recognizes it. He didnt insult us, but the picture about our government and militia is an inaccurate one.

  • really?

    Racism and stereotypes aside (and it really CANNOT be put aside), this is really just not a clever satire. There's never any unsurety about whether the author is serious, and there is not a moment where we reflect back and say, "Oh my god, I see what he means." It's all too obvious.

  • DanOrtega

    El Salvador? Costa Rica has much better beaches and is not yet tired of leftist Yalies tromping through every jungle path.

  • Grad and not for sale

    This is an insulting article indeed.


  • Laura

    Que cosas dicen!
    A Salvadoran!?
    A Salvadorian!?

    People from El Salvador are SALVADOREÑOS!

  • Jules

    Wow, pretty pathetic how the "columnist" is trying to be witty. Guess what, you just insulted many and were not funny. Have you ever been to a foreign country? Have you ever been to El Salvador? Sure, there are slums but there are also places where you cannot afford it (when you cannot afford to live. El Salvador does not spend a great deal in the military because they are not war-oriented cough-US- cough. This insult might cost you dearly. Next time, think about what you type before publishing it. Like my parents say, you might have education but you don't have common sense.