Class Day tradition should be kept despite mentality of change for change’s sake

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to the recent article concerning changes to the Class Day ceremonies, “Class Day speaker may not be announced until March” (2/12).

I have to say I can only hope that no final decision has been made to do away with the traditional distribution of clay tobacco pipes to the senior class. This was one of my fondest memories of Class Day, and indeed of the whole Commencement weekend. It is one of the things that, for me and I’m sure countless alumni dating back to the inception of the tradition in the 1800s, made Yale far more than just a community of scholars.

I’d be very curious to know what the basis for this change is — surely not on financial grounds, as, if I recall correctly, the tobacco was donated (by the Prince of Wales?). Surely not on health grounds, as no one was ever forced to smoke. I hope I do not have to conclude that this is only another case of change for the sake of change — surely such a long-standing tradition should be given the benefit of the doubt, unless there is quite a weighty reason to do away with it.

I cannot put in clearer terms my absolute dismay at this news — one which I’m sure would be shared by many of my fellow alumni if the decision had been more broadly publicized.

Ian R. Fisher

Feb. 13

The writer is a graduate in the Yale College class of 2003.

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