Letter: A pointless protest

There are many reasons to dislike Richard Levin: his administration’s low regard for athletics and his efforts to associate Yale’s name with repressive, authoritarian regimes like Singapore’s spring to mind. But the details of his salary are not one of them. Walking by the Undergraduate Organizing Committee’s protest outside of Woodbridge Hall a few days ago, I couldn’t help but feel dismayed by yet another example of Yale students crying injustice over a less-than-harsh reality of life.

As a student who receives a considerable amount of financial aid, I, too, have felt the pressure to earn more money this year. I will be taking on more hours for the two on-campus jobs I work, while juggling work and track practice. But although I was disappointed to learn of the additional $400 dollars I would have to pay, it quickly occurred to me that this was simply proof that, even at Yale, we are not exempt from the effects of the financial crisis. It also occurred to me that, instead of being at Yale, I could be at another school with far less financial aid or worse, none at all.

To protest Levin’s bonus is to miss the point. As the president of a corporation, he is entitled to the benefits of his office. And, despite my own disagreement with some of his policies, no one could deny the fact that his tenure as President of the University has been an overwhelmingly positive one, for both Yale and New Haven. Heck, he probably deserves the money.

As the raid at Elevate last weekend has shown, we cannot, as Yale students, expect our status as members of this University to exempt us from the difficulties of the world around us. Just beyond our college walls, the struggle to meet the financial demands of a depressed economy is huge enough to make an extra $400 seem like pocket change.

So instead of spending our hard-earned money on Perrier, hors d’oeuvres and a string ensemble for a mock-celebration of President Levin’s bonus, like the UOC did, we ought to be thankful for the privilege of attending Yale — and for the blessing that our own problems are probably far smaller than they could be.

Max Walden

Oct. 7

The writer is a senior in Branford College

Comments

  • silliwin01

    An additional note should be appended to this article:

    *The writer is **not** on financial aid.*

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    Max Walden has written the definitive proof: We should all suck it up and pay more (gratefully and without complaint) unless we’re the president of a corporation. You have to admit that he has his finger on the pulse of the nation …

  • silliwin01

    Honestly, dude, this is a terrible article. Why exactly does the president deserve his bonus in a recession? Why exactly does the president deserve or need a bonus when his corporation is laying off essential employees, sacrificing dining hall policy, and raising student contributions $400? Are his services enhanced to a greater extent by giving him $350,000 than his corporation’s (a non-profit) product would be enhanced by having $350,000 dedicated towards it? Please think from the perspective of someone it effects before having the temerity to write such a risible piece of tripe.

  • Gracchus

    “So instead of spending our hard-earned money on Perrier, hors d’oeuvres and a string ensemble…”

    NO money was spent on the violinists (of which there were two, and not an ensemble)–they were students who volunteered. This was either a bold-faced lie, Mr. Walden, or a complete lack of knowledge of the facts.

  • silliwin01

    Like I said, this article is an embarrassment to the author. I’m going to assume he is a rich kid from the Northeast

    ….
    FB
    ….

    Hmm, Guilford, CT, XC runner? Please, dude, spend more time running to help our terrible XC team and less composing horrible examples of opinion writing.

  • Bulldog2011

    You know what they say about assumptions, silliwin01.

    Instead of coming to conclusions based on someone’s facebook page, perhaps your time would be better spent carefully reading Walden’s letter. The second paragraph clearly states that the author *is* affected by the decision to increase the student contribution and yet can look beyond his own personal situation to view the controversy objectively.

  • pablum

    “There are many reasons to dislike Richard Levin: his administration’s low regard for athletics and his efforts to associate Yale’s name with repressive, authoritarian regimes like Singapore’s spring to mind.”

    What about firing professors, reducing the size of academic departments, and underfunding academic programs?

    But, yeah, his “low regard for athletics” really threatens to destroy the mission of the University.

  • silliwin01

    Oh yuck, what a terrible miss on my part. It doesn’t change the following though:

    “Honestly, dude, this is a terrible article. Why exactly does the president deserve his bonus in a recession? Why exactly does the president deserve or need a bonus when his corporation is laying off essential employees, sacrificing dining hall policy, and raising student contributions $400? Are his services enhanced to a greater extent by giving him $350,000 than his corporation’s (a non-profit) product would be enhanced by having $350,000 dedicated towards it?”

    “write such a risible piece of tripe.”

    “Please, dude, spend more time running to help our terrible XC team and less composing horrible examples of opinion writing.”

  • sy11

    silliwin01,

    If you want to disagree with Max, feel free to do so, but disagree on the merits of what he wrote. You clearly don’t know him. So don’t pretend that you know who he is, where he is from, or what his financial circumstances are. He also works hard as the captain of our xc team to make sure they’re successful. But again, since you don’t know him, you wouldn’t know that either.

    The UOC did this to create a dialogue. And in these discussions, people will sometimes disagree. Serve the greater good and respond by challenging his arguments and not denigrating him. That’s petty.

  • FailBoat

    I really don’t know how to respond to this letter. On the one hand, I am in complete agreement that Richard Levin is probably worth his salary.

    On the other hand, Mr. Walden is making all the wrong arguments. Even when they’re right, history majors tend to embarrass themselves when discussing economic matters.

  • JTKirk

    President Levin has presided over the largest expansion in financial aid for students and funding for the university. While it’s unfortunate this recession has forced difficult financial decisions for the university, I believe President Levin has acted consistently in the best interest of the university by getting ahead of the budget problem. In previous administrations, facilities were let to languish and Yale had a nonexistent endowment as it was consistently raided to keep the operating budget going. Levin has gotten ahead of the issue and rather let Yale re-enter a period where our physical plant is in decay and waste the last 12 years of renovations and reinvestment, he has ensured a stable footing for the university during one of the most tumultuous periods in world financial history.

    He deserves being recognized for his leadership and foresight. The cost in the longer run for the university would have been much greater than $350,000 if he didn’t relieve the pressure on the endowment and ensure adequate funding for the essentials.

    Max is right that there are certainly some questions about some of President Levin’s initiatives, but in the end, I think it is a little surprising we are even having this conversation about whether his efforts as President could justify this bonus.

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    @ JTKirk

    You could certainly justify a bonus for Levin. We could also justify wage increases for the Locals, freezing student activity fees, hiring a professor when one retires, etc. But the only thing that happened is that Levin got a raise.

    And, if it’s oh so obvious to everyone who idly posts comments to poorly written letters that Levin did a great and courageous thing, then did he really do a great and courageous thing?

    It looks like hell that the guy gives himself a bonus for making the tough choice to cut back on everything else. If you’re going to cut everything, then just don’t take the bonus. How hard is that?

  • theantiyale

    Perhaps Mr. Levin would donate some of his bonus to fund a kind of guerrilla theatre re-enactment of the Elevate encounter, using Yale Police as models of what CIVIL police behavior *’could’* be.

    This could occur in a cordoned off section of Woolsey Hall, with full Press attendance. Isn’t Yale’s Interim Police Chief, the former New Haven Police Chief, James Lewis? Even more newsworthy.

    Yale Drama School faculty could direct the “re-enactment” and the Chaplain’s could act as “faculty marshalls”.

    *The New York Times* would cover this as a follow-up to their original article on the Elevate debacle, last week. (BTW: Would the *Times* have covered the matter at all if it had been Quinnipiac or Southern Connecticut students? The answer is self-evident.)

    So Yale students, use your privileged position with the Press, and some of Mr. Levin’s bonus or his Presidential discretionary budget (every CEO has one, you know!) to show the public how Police OUGHT to behave.

    We have been ***complaining*** about thuggish police behavior in the USA for fifty years.

    Let’s DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

    MODEL NON-THUGGISH POLICE WORK IN A PUBLIC RE-ENACTMENT OF THE ELEVATE ENCOUNTER AT WOOLSEY HALL.

    Paul Keane

    M. Div. ’80
    [link text][1]

    [1]: http://theantiyale.blogspot.com “Dartmouth President Celebrates the Liberal Arts, Yale Marginalizes Them”

  • theantiyale

    PS
    Videotape the Elevate Re-enactment and puts segments on YouTube.

  • RexMottram08

    Every dollar spent on Levin is a dollar unspent on WSGS. Keep the raises coming Yale Corp!