For so many of us who currently attend Yale, there was — just around this time of year — that moment.
Maybe it came during the Bulldog Days extracurricular bazaar. Hundreds of students, impassioned and emphatic, begging us to enroll. YDN editors and Rumpus editors, Dems and the Party of the Right, side by side, united in common purpose: to convince you that there is nowhere in the world like Yale.
Maybe it came during the tour. A glimpse of the Branford courtyard, a peek at the renovated Silliman courtyard — or, for that matter, a potential classmate — might have done the trick.
Or a conversation with a future class member. Or with a professor, who, yes, cares deeply about undergraduates. Or a Bulldog Days a cappella, orchestra, band or improv concert. Or one glance at Peter Salovey’s moustache.
Whatever it was, something clicked. And we guarantee that in encounter after encounter today, Yalie after Yalie will try her hardest to ensure that you feel that same thrill of belonging and inspiration, too — in other words, that you choose to enroll here.
That is not to say the University is without its faults (particularly the overcrowding that will worsen if each admitted student were to attend, as we hope). But it is to say that you can, we think, make no better choice for your four-year undergraduate experience than Yale. Really. And if you are in a dining hall while reading this — or in a classroom or on Old Campus — turn to your left or right and speak to the closest student or prospective student to see why.
But truth be told, most of the rationales we could provide and inveigling we could attempt would be nothing new. Yalies have been embracing their younger brethren for generations.
There is, however, one point that remains — otherwise unstressed in Bulldog Days literature and yet unique to the class of 2012: to attend Yale from 2008 through 2012 will be to attend Yale in a time of unprecedented transition and expansion.
The situation, in fact, is win-win. If you are, like some prefrosh, put off by the sometimes-antediluvian ambiance, expect progressive thinking to come to dominate once you enroll. But if you do crave the lore of Eli past, expect to take a look back to an older Yale for guidance in the coming years.
The concrete manifestation of this period was buried between recent news of Aliza Shvarts’ ’08 senior project and, well, Shvarts’ senior project: Yale is getting bigger.
Over the coming years, a pair of new residential colleges is set to be constructed. Among other perks — such as the expansion of Science Hill and a wave of innovative construction around campus — this means that students will likely face a wave of anti-inertia and self-reflection that no class has since the Vietnam War. And as the colleges are built, it will be the class of 2012 above all that will weigh in on the details: Its mark will be felt for years to come at an institution in which building traditions matters always, even in times of change.
That’s only the beginning. Financial aid is increasing. Academic departments are expanding in order to prepare for what will be an expanded student body once the colleges are built. On a campus in which political discourse thrives, a presidential election approaches that — whether an Eli wins this time or not — is bound to make for an electric first semester. Residential-college renovation is finally ending as campus-wide reflection on questions of community and speech are surfacing.
We hope you have that magic moment today — and that it is, as the song goes, “sweeter than [the] wine” you may taste tonight on Old Campus or Lynwood.
If you don’t, choose Yale anyway. Your class, after all, will have power to shape its Yale experience — and that of generations of Elis to come — more than any class to have come through Phelps Gate in years.