On the last evening of Camp Yale, I received a puzzling e-mail. It was a short message from my residential college dean asking me to stop by her office in the upcoming days.
Thinking over my actions of the past days, I became worried that I had somehow managed to incur punishment before ever setting foot in a class at my new university. Was there a problem with my transcript? Did someone see me lost on Elm Street (without accompaniment) at midnight the first night? Had I broken school policy in any way? Had Yale made a mistake in my admission?
I was looking forward to classes; I was enjoying my time here thus far, and I liked the people I had met. I decided to cast aside this worry, and I was able to do so until the next afternoon, at which point I was informed of the true reason for the note.
It was not on account of any of my own actions. (For this I was relieved.) Rather, it was due to the actions of certain upperclassmen, who had circulated a nasty e-mail to members of male sports teams and others. (About this I felt uneasy.)
The e-mail discussed female freshmen, and I was informed that it was of a generally predatory nature, rating the attractiveness of these girls — one of whom was me. As I later found out, 53 girls were listed in the “Preseason Scouting Report,” and we were categorized by necessary beer goggles strength: 10 beers, five beers or sobriety. The more beers, the less attractive we were deemed.
By now, the fact of this e-mail has been widely circulated. A sizeable group of students have seen it, many suspect its source, and most have read about it in the News or have heard stories about it from friends. The general consensus is that this was a bad move by the makers.
Yale College Dean Mary Miller, other deans and administrators, freshman counselors, and students have all weighed in, widely if not publicly, on the “Scouting Report”. But few have heard from the girls who were targeted.
The identities of the affected parties have been kept as quiet as possible so as to protect them. After all, being put on this list is embarrassing and hurtful. I have seen the e-mail, and I can understand why administrators would want to keep personal details unpublicized.
Many entries did not include comments beyond the given girl’s rating and some basic contact information, but this alone was derogatory enough. The rest of the notes were mixed between positive and negative — and some truly were negative, the type borne only from the most crass of hormone-heavy college boys.
Speaking from experience, I cannot see how any girl could be happy to be on this list. It is truly offensive, even for someone receiving a good rating without any comments. No rating on this list is complimentary, regardless of its nature. The very existence of this list is offensive.
Since hearing about the list, I have felt less secure around campus and more cynical toward my male upperclassman counterparts. This objectifying viewpoint and targeting of the “easier victims” was not a mentality I expected to meet with at one of the world’s most prestigious universities. Truthfully, I was (and remain) shocked and disappointed that students with such elementary thinking patterns would even be considered for admission to Yale.
Targeting freshman girls is rather feeble. Beginning college, perhaps somewhere very far from home, is extremely difficult, and is likely to lead to feelings of insecurity — especially when a stable support system of friends and older advisers hasn’t been set up yet.
It is common knowledge that college students can be particularly eager to engage in certain after-class activities, but this should be kept on a fair and respectful level. It is disheartening that certain male students at Yale would seek out girls just out of high school, and would not be able to find any interested parties through normal social means. Really, are their personal resources so limited as to have to resort to this easiest group to target? And are their minds so underdeveloped that they must think about girls this way?
I am very thankful to have so many supportive new friends, counselors and faculty members here, and I hope that this unfortunate start will not ripple out into any of my future experiences at Yale. I hope I will soon come to learn that it is the minority of students here who think or behave in this way.
Most of all I hope that those who created this list, or encouraged it, will realize that they are not doing themselves any favors with this or their way of handling girls. Speaking for most girls, I can safely say that we would rate the e-mail’s creators and those who share their attitude as “beyond blackout” on the beer rating scale. And, frankly, neither I nor any of the girls I know will ever reach that point.
Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi is a freshman in Ezra Stiles College.