Some students at Yale believe the University can be a welcoming place where anyone can make friends with his or her fellow students and still maintain a unique identity. While these students, who clearly comprise the oppressive majority, justify their systematic discrimination, the rest of us know better. This University can be, for a few suffering groups, an uncomfortable and unsympathetic place where personal identity is crushed and diversity gleefully trodden underfoot.
Numerous groups at Yale suffer from this type of systematic discrimination. For example, even though the LGBTQ community comprises approximately 10 percent of Yale’s population, according to a recent News poll, it lacks its own cultural house and dedicated resource office. Even more egregious, the department dedicated to it is one of the smallest departments on campus. The fact that Yale still has groups of students to whom they refuse additional administrative and academic recognition is so negligent, it borders on bigotry.
Thankfully Yale has established through its actions a loose set of criteria that a group needs to meet to quality for administrative assistance. One of the primary qualifications is the percentage of the student population that a group makes up. Women comprise the largest of these groups, accounting for 49.1 percent of the population. Obviously, a minority group cannot exceed 50 percent of the population, so supported groups must be no larger than this. The remaining criteria are a bit harder to divine, but previous interventions clearly require that any group which, in addition to its minority status, also finds the University, in the words of LGBTQ co-op coordinator Rachel Schiff ’10, “an alien, hostile place” deserves University resources.
As history has shown us, such groups cannot develop a community without the University’s involvement, and even so, they find it difficult to cope with campus life. The “Gone with the Wind”-themed Freshman Screw highlighted this lack of voice. It took the objections of not just one, but several members of the Black Student Alliance at Yale (BSAY) to force the entire Freshman Class Council to rename their cruelly intentioned event. And last year, after the Zeta Psi “Sluts” incident, the Yale Women’s Center had to wait several weeks before its demands of the Yale Administration were finally addressed.
At least some good came from these events. Though Yale’s response to these issues was delayed, it succeeded in setting yet another criterion for special treatment. If a particular event or policy makes even a few students unhappy, then the offending items must be amended.
I am deeply appreciative of the clarity and foresight with which Yale established these policies, for they provide us with a road map to move toward a better tomorrow. The time has come to make sure every student feels welcome on campus and is free from discomfort. That is why I am openly calling for the formation of Yale’s first conservative co-op with a conservative studies major to follow. Conservatives can demonstrate that they fit into all of these categories.
Recent polls indicate that conservatives make up 12 percent of the student population. Ask conservatives whether they feel comfortable on campus and the answer will be a resounding no.
The Yale culture is often excessively promiscuous and hostile toward religious morality. The Yale administration has completely ignored the consciences of many of its students by allowing events such as Sex Week and seriously considering gender-neutral housing. Both of these examples create undue pressure on conservatives to join in mainstream campus activities which demean their values and threaten to destroy their sense of identity and self-worth.
Some might argue these values are choices. The reality, however, is that conservatives’ world view is often integral to their culture and, according to Yale’s history of intervention, deserves protection. Now that Yale has declared itself the arbitrator of student comfort and conformity, the University must arbitrate fairly or be seen as prejudiced.
To protect these groups against further discomfort, I insist that any campus event which insults or offends more than one person be disbanded or rebranded with an acceptable world view. This view should be chosen before a rebranding is required if we really hope to be proactive.
Any failure to do so implies that Yale continues to discriminate against some for the benefit of others. I know that few Yalies want to promote bigotry, so I propose that all University events embody a universally tolerable world view, perhaps that of “My Little Pony.” By doing so, we can ensure that every one of our events incorporates, in the words of Hasbro, “a world of surprises and spontaneity, sunshine and silliness.” Who doesn’t like rainbow-colored ponies?
John Scrudato is a sophomore in Morse College.