Elis trump professors in quiz

This article has been corrected. You may view this article’s correction here.

In an epic battle of wits, Yale students proved they know more about sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll than their learned (and tenured) professors.

A group of five Yale students triumphed over five Yale professors in Friday’s Jeopardy!-style “H2Know: A Water Week Quiz Bowl,” a charity event co-sponsored by Students Taking Action Now: Darfur, the Yale College Council and the Yale Student Environmental Coalition. The event — modeled upon STAND’s previous professors-only competitions — raised money for Save the Children, a nonprofit child advocacy group, from a $3 admission fee. Students and professors sparred over categories such as “Sex,” “Pop Culture,” “All the Single Ladies,” and “Food at Yale.”

Yale’s version of Jeopardy! featured molecular biophysics and biochemistry professor William Summers, who served as master of ceremonies and introduced each professor. The professors’ team included Yale College Dean Mary Miller, English professor Aaron Ritzenberg, Timothy Dwight Dean John Loge, English professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies Amy Hungerford, and Larned professor of history Cynthia Russett. That team of five squared off against Jordan Rogers ’12, Harrison Marks ’10, Michael Bilow ’09, Xuan Nguyen ’10 and Benjamin Schenkel ’12.

Over 150 students squeezed into room 101 in Linsley-Chittenden Hall to watch the crowded event and cheered loudly before the first round even began.

With the competition underway, the professors were stymied by a question about the CW’s “Gossip Girl.” Both teams fell short on a 500-point “Sex” question regarding the penalty for masturbation in Indonesia (decapitation). After the students took an early lead, the professors began to huddle, collaborating in hurried whispers. But at the end of the round, the students led by an 1,100 point margin.

In the second round, Ritzenberg kept the audience entertained and led a professor comeback, confidently declaring “Put a ring on it!” to win a question about Beyonce’s hit single “Single Ladies.”

But it was not enough — the students were still ahead at the end of the second round.

Final Jeopardy again stumped the professors, and a hefty student wager on the correct answer put the students ahead by a ratio of nearly four to one.

“Yale professors pretend they know everything and this was a chance for them to prove it — obviously they failed,” Alison Grubbs ’12 quipped. “It was worth every penny.”

The event’s charitable side drew Schenkel — who once took home over $40,000 on the actual Jeopardy! show — to the student team.

“I don’t want to knock Quiz Bowl because I found it fun in high school, but I got frustrated with regurgitating facts — I don’t think that has much bearing on your intellect,” Schenkel said before the event. “But since H2Know was a one-time lighthearted event that raised funds and awareness for Darfur victims, I couldn’t turn it down.”

YCC Representative Tomas Rua ’10, who led the contestant selection committee, said the committee tried to make the teams as evenly matched as possible.

“We were hoping to select a contestant pool that was experienced and talented,” he said. “But we also wanted to get a diverse pool of knowledge.”

Rua explained that in choosing professors, they wanted “people who were high-profile” in order to generate interest for the event.


  • Recent Alum

    Really sad that these would be the kind of subjects covered in a Yale quiz instead of U.S. history, Western civilization history, geography, English literature, U.S. government, sciences, etc.

    More Yalies know the name of Beyonce's latest hit than who wrote the Declaration of Independence.

  • '04

    #1: Jeez, it was a funny and enjoyable break from the students' everyday activities: studying the very things you castigate them for not knowing. Get over yourself.

  • To recent Alum

    Thomas Jefferson. I have not a clue about Beyonce's latest hit?

  • @1

    Seriously? I assume you are using exaggeration as a rhetorical device, since I highly doubt that you could find many Yalies who don't know that Benjamin Franklin wrote the Declaration of Independence.

    (kidding about Franklin)

    Come on, this was just a fun event. Not every moment of every day has to be spent on classic disciplines.

  • Lux

    Recent Alum,

    Lighten up.


    "STAND" hasn't stood for "Students Taking Action Now: Darfur" for at least two years. It's STAND: A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition. The YDN consistently gets this wrong.

  • Incensed Student

    I agree with #2. It was supposed to be a fun event to encourage people to come out and pay their $3 to help innocent children that are victims in Darfur. There were also questions about Spenser's Faerie Queen, Yale History, Viking History, and Water (because the charity was Water for Darfur). But that wouldn't have caught your attention as a lede, now would it?

  • Nerd Patrol

    To #1:

    Shut up, nerd. It's really sad that, despite graduating, you still read -- and comment on -- YDN articles. I would stuff you in a locker if Yale had lockers.

  • love

    michael bilow is the man.

  • Nerd Patrol

    Thank you, Ben Schenkel, for taking time out of your busy schedule to be smart in front of a crowd. I heard you got a B+ last semester.


  • Anonymous

    Nerd Patrol,
    Hey, stop hating on Ben Schenkel. I doubt you even considered participating since your ignorance would probably have cost the students win.