Archive: Mon Nov 2011

  1. NEWS’ VIEW: Free speech and Sex Week

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    President Richard Levin chose not to kill Sex Week last Thursday. He could easily have banned it. Instead, he decided to stand up for free speech on campus — we think.

    In its report released last Thursday, the Advisory Committee on Campus Climate recommended banning Sex Week because its most recent iterations have not promoted healthy discourse on campus. The committee was wrong to propose a ban on speech it deemed titillating. Levin was right to push back against it. Yale must never censor speech simply because the administration finds it distasteful.

    In his response to the committee and to Yale, Levin decided neither to ban nor to endorse Sex Week. He remained cautious about the future of the event on campus but offered an opportunity for students to create a framework in which the program could continue to operate. We welcome his attempt both to promote free discourse on campus and to provide a teaching opportunity.

    We believe free speech is vital to university life. As a newspaper, we are especially glad Yale recognizes that. The Undergraduate Regulations state, “The history of intellectual growth and discovery clearly demonstrates the need for unfettered freedom, the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable.” But we do not learn from free speech alone. The university should allow students to use whatever words they want but also encourage them to consider what those words mean.

    By asking Sex Week’s leaders to reform the program, Levin has defended free speech, tried to step into the role of teacher and also raised some concerns about how far he will take that role. He allowed students to choose where to take Sex Week – or see it banned. Something is not quite right about Sex Week as it currently exists, he told us. Talk amongst yourselves and fix it.

    Levin couched his criticism of Sex Week in vague ideas about corporate sponsorship and “private inurement.” That insufficient explanation confuses us. Other undergraduate organizations receive corporate sponsorship without raising eyebrows. We recognize that Yale has reasons to frown on Sex Week; the event has been a public relations nightmare since its inception. But if corporate involvement is the only reason Levin cites, he must be clearer about his concerns with the event.

    He has been clear on one point: The revamped Sex Week design will have to meet his approval. We hope Levin is looking for one that aims to serve Yale – not just Yale’s public relations department. We hope that, now that he and Dean Mary Miller have asked for a proposal, they will listen to what we give them and remember that free speech and instruction go hand in hand.

  2. Sex Week develops proposal

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    The organizers of Sex Week 2012 are developing a proposal that they hope will earn administrators’ approval and allow them to hold the biennial event on campus next semester.

    After the Advisory Committee on Campus Climate recommended last Thursday that Sex Week be prohibited from using the Yale name or Yale facilities, University President Richard Levin gave its organizers a chance to draw up a proposal that “might warrant continuation” of Sex Week on campus, he wrote in a seven-page response to the report. The organizers of Sex Week, which is scheduled to take place between Feb. 4-14, have already made some concessions in response to administrators’ concerns, but they said they will not shy away from controversial issues in their proposal.

    “I think that we’re looking at the balance of events really hard to make sure that the events are relevant to Yale students,” Connie Cho ’13, one of Sex Week’s organizers, said. “Does this mean we’re going to touch on the issue of porn? Yes, because it’s relevant to Yale students.”

    Sex Week, founded in 2002 by Jacqueline Farber ’03 and Eric Rubenstein ’04, is a event that “seeks to cultivate a forum for engaging and meaningful discussions about sexuality, intimacy and relationships,” according to its mission statement. In 2010, Sex Week included events such as a Master’s Tea with transgender porn star Buck Angel, a “Sexual Fantasies” talk by sexologist Dr. Susan Block and a sexually transmitted infection test drive.

    The Advisory Committee’s 42-page report criticized Sex Week for having strayed from its original mission, stating that “in recent years it has prominently featured titillating displays, ‘adult’ film starts, and commercial sponsors of such material.”

    “The Marshall Committee found that it undermined the climate of healthy sexual relationships on our campus and they recommended banning it all together,” Levin said.

    Though Levin gave Sex Week’s organizers an opportunity to propose the event in an alternative form, he declined to comment on what type of program the administration would approve.

    Kimberly Goff-Crews ’83 LAW ’86, a member of the four-person committee that drew up the report, said in a Sunday email that the Committee believed that “immediately banning” Sex Week would be the best way for Yale to uphold its commitment to a safe campus environment.

    “The committee did hear from students, faculty and administrators that Sex Week at Yale may contribute to some of the problems with the climate on campus that they described,” Goff-Crews said. “Few talked about the benefits of the programs in much detail.”

    Cho disputed that Sex Week had deviated from its original purpose. She said Sex Week plays an important role in promoting discourse about sex and sexuality on campus and giving people “agency” over their sexuality, adding that she is confident that Sex Week “is going to happen.”

    Still, organizers have changed the name of this year’s event to “Sex Week 2012” rather than “Sex Week at Yale,” Cho said, and have decided to launch a fundraising campaign instead of using corporate sponsors to fund Sex Week’s events. The Advisory Committee’s report suggested that the administration prevent Sex Week from using the Yale name or relying on commercial sponsors.

    The report described a “new sexual climate” present both at Yale and other universities that promotes casual sexual encounters over long-term relationships, which can “blur boundaries of what consent means” and make it difficult to identify and combat sexual misconduct.

    Cho said she and the other organizers want to consider criticisms of Sex Week and provide a balance of events that are “inclusive” and “relevant to Yale students.” The organizers do not want to host events purely for “shock value,” Cho said, and they will seek feedback from students about whether certain events would be perceived as “voyeuristic.” As part of their effort to be inclusive, Cho said coordinators are reaching out to student organizations — including religious and advocacy groups — across campus to co-sponsor events, with the hope of having each event for the program be co-sponsored.

    Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Melanie Boyd ’90, who has met with the organizers of Sex Week this fall, said in a Sunday email that the event has the potential to be a forum to discuss serious questions about sexuality.

    “If the organizers pull off the aims they articulate in their mission statement, that Sex Week is a well-curated and thoughtful series of events about sexuality, intimacy and relationships, then I think it will be a positive contribution to campus climate,” she wrote in the email.

    Alexandra Brodsky ’12, one of the 16 students and alumni who filed a Title IX complaint on March 15 alleging that the University has a hostile sexual climate, said she thought that the open dialogue that Sex Week promoted was important for individuals to “claim [their] sexual autonomy.” She called it “a shame” that University is not showing more support of a program she said displays “a new understanding of sex culture on this campus.”

    But Eduardo Andino ’13, co-founder of Undergraduates for a Better Yale College, has circulated a petition asking administrators to end Sex Week because he said many of the events promote objectification of sexuality.

    “[Sex Week events] always promoted or proceeded on the assumption that casual sex or pornography is a normal part of life and therefore an unquestionable good,” he said, adding that over 200 students have signed his petition since it first began circulating in September.

    All 13 other students interviewed said they think that Sex Week should be allowed to continue on campus. Alison Greenberg ’14, who attended Sex Week in 2010 before taking a year off, said she thinks the Committee’s recommendation to remove the Yale name from Sex Week’s title sends a negative message about the importance of discussions about sexual culture.

    “I think Sex Week is pivotal in maintaining a healthy sexual culture,” Greenberg said. “It allows people to ask the questions they want to ask all year, but only get to ask once.”

    Several students pointed out that attending Sex Week events is optional, and those who do not approve of certain activities can easily avoid them.

    Sex Week is a project of the Sexual Literacy Coalition at Yale, a registered undergraduate organization run by Sex Week organizer Courtney Peters ’12.

  3. FARHI: End Sex Week extremism

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    God created the world in one week. Or maybe he didn’t — I’m pretty sure there’s a debate you can attend to argue that, or anything else you want to argue. Because that’s what Yalies do: we argue, because there must be a Right Answer out there, and it’s either my position or yours.

    If you want to get a college student’s attention, you have one of two options: free food or sex. Yale’s got the free food thing down. But sex is still one we’re dealing with, from Title IX to Sex Week, and we’re constantly debating the “S-word.” When, with whom, with what gender, how … These conversations aren’t just happening on the school-wide level, but in each common room. It’s inevitable.

    Sex Week is on everyone’s minds. It addresses on the macro level what we all discuss on the micro level. When I first heard about it, freshman year, I chuckled. “Really?” I thought. “They demonstrate a blow job with a banana?” But I didn’t go to any events — I was a DSer, and thus too stressed out and lazy to go to any of them. But it did give me a sense of pride in my school. We were talking about these issues without shame; we could simultaneously take it seriously enough to discuss sex trafficking yet lightly enough to laugh at ourselves. It’s valuable to be able to talk about sex, all kinds of sex and everything about sex, in a campus-wide forum. Why should we have to hide our discussions? So maybe I should go out and protest in favor of Sex Week.

    But then I realize that the Undergraduates for a Better Yale College and others who think like them have valid points. Talking about sex is good — talking about sex simply to talk about sex is, well, a tautology. If Sex Week has devolved to the point where its main focus is “titillating displays,” then the Internet will do just as well. Objectification is not a good thing; I doubt anyone at Yale really disagrees with that. And I certainly don’t want a culture that glorifies objectification. As one of the most hopeless romantics one will ever find, I agree that there should be intimacy before sex.

    But let’s be real: that doesn’t happen. Not at Yale, and not in the real world. Not just because of a less-than-ideal culture, but because some people like sex and don’t want emotional attachments. And, conversely, in the real world talking about sex to your boss is probably not okay (though that might depend on your job). Being able to discuss sex is great, but there’s a time and a place.

    People are getting so worked up about Sex Week, and whether or not it should be banned, but remember that they’re trying to change it to a compromise. The coordinators are, at President Levin’s behest, making a proposal for a new week that is less about the thrill of sex and more about education, but Levin didn’t ban it outright. So no, it’s not one or the other, not objectification or sex — it’s both.

    But that’s not how Yalies think, or so it has seemed to me in my years here. We can’t help but think in absolutes. It has to be one or the other, and we will argue to the vicious end for whichever side of the argument we believe in. I just don’t see why it can’t be a continuum. Can’t a UBYC member admit that while she thinks parts of Sex Week go too far, some parts of it (say, the sex-ed parts) are a good thing? Can’t a proponent of Sex Week allow that while Sex Week is important, maybe it has strayed a bit from its original purpose? There’s a compromise position, and sometimes the answer isn’t to stick rigidly to one side until it becomes a war of attrition. We don’t need trenches dug on Old Campus.

    Maybe this time, the answer is to take a deep breath and wait and see. Sex Week, when it comes down to it, is only just a week. It didn’t change my perceptions of sex. It didn’t pull me to one end of the spectrum or the other. It’s less than 10 days, people — so put it in perspective.

    We can afford to look into the gray area and consider the possibility that both sides can have merit. The answer doesn’t have to be yes or no. It’s allowed to be “sort of.” God rested on the seventh day; hopefully, by the end of Sex Week, we can give it a rest, too.

    Isabel Farhi is a junior in Jonathan Edwards College. Contact her at isabel.farhi@yale.edu.

  4. CHO AND HOLMES: Let’s talk about sex

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    After campus incidents of misogyny, public intimidation and complaints of inadequate responses to rape and sexual assault, recent reports have shown that Yale has room for growth when it comes to sex. Last Thursday evening, the four-person committee tasked with investigating a hostile environment toward women under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act released its recommendations to the Yale administration and Yale Corporation. President Levin responded with a letter to the Yale community.

    As Executive Directors of Sex Week 2012, we hope to help the administration to work with students in seeking answers to uncomfortable and challenging questions about sex and sexuality on campus.

    The committee’s report, amid some helpful responses to serious allegations, characterizes Sex Week at Yale as “highly problematic,” having “over time … lost the focus of its stated intention” by “prominently [featuring] titillating displays, ‘adult’ film stars, and commercial sponsors of such material.” The committee recommended that Sex Week be “prohibited from using Yale’s name and any Yale facilities.”

    We fear that the committee’s report confuses the root causes of rape and harassment, attributing violence to expression. One of the primary reasons the Title IX complainants filed a suit against Yale was the inadequate policies and disconnected bureaucracy that led to the institutionalized silencing of victims of sexual assault and harassment.

    President Levin announced in his response that because he has no desire to impede free speech, he will “give the current student organizers the opportunity to propose a program for next semester that might warrant the continuation of this event on campus.”

    While exercising rights of free speech that Levin has reaffirmed, we hope to continue a positive and productive discourse. We will enthusiastically fulfill Levin’s request for a proposal for Sex Week 2012. We will also provide our justifications for the planned events and a history of Sex Weeks at Yale to the public to spark even further discussion on what constitutes effective and forward-looking sexual education. We note it was inappropriate and defamatory to for Levin to implicitly accuse past student organizers of working for their own “private inurement,” but we hope to proceed with mutual respect.

    The committee’s report offered few specific objections, but it notably pointed to the presence of “adult film stars.” Yes, Sex Week at Yale 2010 addressed the existence of porn among a wide array of topics on sex and sexuality, with free sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing at every event. The events in question focused on the state of the industry, gender and race roles in pornography and the use of condoms in adult films.

    Buck Angel spoke in his role as a transgender rights activist and chastised the adult film industry for failing to promote safe sex. Sasha Grey explained why she demands even more timely STI testing for her co-stars than current industry standards. It is counterproductive for the committee and the rest of us to categorically reduce an industry to its stereotype or believe that “titillation” makes for subject matter not worth investigating deeper.

    However, Sex Week 2012 accepts that students hold diverse beliefs, and our first responsibility is to the well-being of the student body. Sex Week 2012 events will not be intended for shock value, and we will draw parameters accordingly, but we also believe that excitement and education are not mutually exclusive.

    Yale should take steps to promote an understanding of positive relationships and a positive sexual climate. Sexual openness invites sexual understanding. It equips us to talk about sex out loud. Discussing what can make sex fulfilling will reveal damaging patterns and power dynamics. It can be used to let your partner (or partners) know what you like or what your boundaries are — and feel empowered to voice them. It can lend strength to members of our community facing true horrors, and it can allow us to treat criminal activity as criminal activity. Suppressing dialogue and inquiry reinforces a hostile environment in which students cannot articulate their desires.

    Challenge yourself to express your beliefs about sex in positive language. We are all ears for peer commentary and critique. As Sex Week and Yale move further into the public sphere of discussion, we are responsible for ensuring that discussions of sexuality remain rooted in concrete and relevant terms. Help us make Sex Week 2012 worthwhile by sharing your views and listening to others.

    Connie Cho and Paul Holmes are juniors in Silliman College and Pierson College, respectively. They are two of the eight Executive Directors for Sex Week 2012.

  5. ZELINSKY: Save speech at Yale

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    Yale’s commitment to free speech is officially on life support.

    This past Thursday, President Levin published the Marshall Committee Report on campus sexual climate. Among other things, the committee recommends banning Sex Week from using classrooms — in effect barring its activities this spring. The committee also claims to uphold “Yale’s enduring commitment to free expression,” despite its recommendation regarding Sex Week.

    Responding to the report, Levin endorsed the ban on Sex Week, with the caveat that the student-led group can “propose a program for next semester that might warrant continuation of this event on campus.” But have no fear: “We have no intention of suppressing the students’ rights to free expression.”

    Levin and the Marshall Committee got it wrong — Sex Week deserves space on campus this spring, just like every other group, regardless of how offensive it might be. In order to reach this conclusion, we need to address two questions: Are rooms necessary for free speech on a college campus? If yes, does Sex Week fall outside the bounds of protected expression?

    An important disclaimer: I do not support Sex Week. The event is distasteful, with little redeeming value. But so is a lot of speech that happens at Yale. Our community does not censor someone purely for being tawdry or offensive.

    Now to the first question posed: Does denying students a room restrict their speech? The answer: Yes. Rooms have become a de facto right to student groups on campus. They are the physical locations that make up our marketplace of ideas, tantamount to the Speaker’s Corner in London. Administrators ought not deny specific students resources automatically entitled to the general population without a compelling reason.

    Having established the importance of classrooms to campus speech, should Yale ban Sex Week from classrooms? When can we limit free speech?

    In Section H of the Marshall Report, the authors write that just because speech is “offensive … even hateful,” it does not mean Yale can ban it. I could not agree more. If we ban offensive speech, we face unsettling questions: Who decides what speech is acceptably offensive and what is over the line? Me? Dean Gentry? Any offended student?

    Incidentally, this conception of free speech follows in an illustrious Yale tradition, starting with the 1975 Woodward Report, which came to an identical conclusion. We do not censor speech because we do not trust censors. Our community tolerates offensive expression up until that speech directly incites physical violence — we have not yet seen that at Yale.

    To justify banning Sex Week, the Marshall Committee must show that the event is more than merely offensive. It does not. The closest the report comes is arguing that Sex Week “has lost the focus of its stated intention” and thus merits a ban.

    This new standard amounts to administrators deciding my purpose for speaking and allowing me to speak only if my words meet that purpose. Nowhere in the rest of the report does the committee reach a similar standard.

    Levin’s response to the report adopts a different reason for banning Sex Week, though his is equally incorrect. He claims the organizers of Sex Week benefit from corporate sponsorship and enjoy “private inurement” (read: kickbacks from condom makers). Regardless of whether he is correct on his facts — I don’t know if Sex Week coordinators are paid by the porn industry — a few examples quickly show that his particular logic is untenable.

    Bain Capital sponsors the Women’s Leadership Initiative — should WLI now be denied space because it receives outside funding? What about students working in public schools who earn stipends from Dwight Hall — are their thoughts about school reform not protected speech because of their salaries? President Levin’s illogic speaks for itself.

    We thus find ourselves at a simple trinity of conclusions: One, classrooms are necessary for speech. Two, denying Sex Week those spaces requires proving its speech more than merely offensive. Three, neither the Marshall Report nor the president successfully tell us why Sex Week merits censorship.

    President Levin: Give Sex Week back its space, distasteful though the event might be.

    Nathaniel Zelinsky is a junior in Davenport College. His column runs on Mondays. Contact him at nathaniel.zelinsky@yale.edu.

  6. Dixwell shooting leads to Elm Street closure

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    Elm Street Sunday evening as more than 10 police cars and an ambulance closed the block between York and High streets for an hour to retrieve a shooting victim.

    Onlookers said police officers had their guns drawn as they approached a dark-colored BMW vehicle driven by 21-year-old Gordon Pettaway, who had been shot in the left shoulder in Dixwell. He was found alive and taken to St. Raphael’s Hospital, according to New Haven Police Department spokesman David Hartman, who added Pettaway’s wound did not appear to be life-threatening.

    Yale Police Department Assistant Chief Michael Patten said the incident never posed any danger to any member of the Yale community.

    Hartman said his department responded to reports of a shooting at 90 Shelton Ave. at 5:26 p.m. Soon after, he said, the NHPD’s dispatcher released a description of Pettaway’s dark-colored BMW vehicle with a smashed front-left window. A YPD officer spotted the vehicle driving erratically on Broadway, Patten said, and stopped it on Elm Street. There, Pettaway told the officer he had been shot, Patten said.

    Pettaway’s vehicle collided with a Nissan Maxima on Elm Street and subsequently stopped, according to one woman in the impacted vehicle who declined to give her name because she was involved in the police investigation. This account was disputed by YPD Sergeant Keith Pullen, and Hartman said he had no information about whether Pettaway’s vehicle hit any others.

    Although an officer on the scene said he expected the block to remain closed for a “couple hours,” the street was cleared and traffic resumed at around 6:30 p.m.

    Last Monday night, another man, Marquette Pettaway, was shot in the buttocks in a parking lot on Valley Street, according to an NHPD press release last week. The New Haven Independent reported that police at the Elm Street scene “noticed the connection” between the names, though Lieutenant Joe Witkowski said at this point no one knows if the victims or the shootings are related.

    Three other shootings, one of which was fatal, made Sunday afternoon a violent one. A man was found shot dead at 7:20 p.m. at the back of a home at 536 Whalley Ave. between the Beaver Hills and Edgewood neighborhoods. Hartman confirmed it was a homicide, bringing the Elm City’s murder count for 2011 to 30 — the highest since 1994, when 32 murders were recorded, and already six higher than last year’s total count.

    A 17-year-old male with a gunshot wound to the left leg was admitted to Yale-New Haven Hospital at 3:09 p.m., claiming to have been shot in the area of Shelton Avenue and Read Street in Newhallville, according to Hartman.

    Another man was reported to have entered St. Raphael’s at 6:19 p.m., Hartman said, adding the victim has not yet been identified and a report of the circumstances of his shooting is not yet available.

    The NHPD has launched investigations into all four cases and Hartman said Sunday evening that there was “nothing at the moment” to suggest the shootings are related.

  7. Webinars replacing traditional Law School info sessions

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    When Carolina Maharbiz LAW ’03, director of recruitment in the Law School admissions office, spoke to prospective Law School applicants from her office on Oct. 25, she was addressing more than two dozen Yale students and alumni. But none of the listeners was in the room with Maharbiz, and many were not in Connecticut.

    Maharbiz was leading a Law School admissions webinar ­— a type of online information session made available this fall to students and alumni of 37 United States colleges and universities — that Dean of Admissions Asha Rangappa LAW ’00 said her office began in the wake of the nationwide economic downturn in 2009. The sessions were introduced as a cost-cutting alternative to information sessions held by admissions staff who traveled to college campuses for recruitment efforts. Though University President Richard Levin said at a town hall meeting in early October that Yale’s finances have stabilized, the Law School has opted both to continue expanding its more cost-efficient webinar program and to decrease its on-campus informational meetings with prospective students.

    Webinars are held by the Law School at specific, prescheduled times — much like a traditional information session — and are also available to audiences from certain colleges and universities selected by Yale, rather than the general public. In addition to eliminating travel costs, Rangappa said webinars are also able to target a broader audience than traditional sessions.

    “Essentially, the webinars are allowing us to reach out to more people at more schools,” Rangappa said.

    The Law School admissions office was able to hold webinars this recruitment cycle for several schools it had not previously visited, Rangappa said, such as Vassar, Harvey Mudd and Grinnell Colleges.

    Law School Director of Admissions Craig Janecek said webinars have benefited a growing population of students who take time off between graduating college and applying to law school, since the online sessions are available to alumni and easily viewed from any computer.

    But as webinars have expanded, other forms of recruiting have dropped off at the Law School. Only 11 schools received in-person visits from admissions staff this fall, Janecek said, as opposed to roughly 20 to 30 institutions that admissions staff visited before the recession.

    Anna Ramirez, dean of admissions and financial aid at the Divinity School, said while her office is interested in creating webinars in the future, she is unsure whether online sessions will be an effective recruitment tool for applicants to the Divinity School.

    “My biggest concern is that with theological education, people really want to get to know the school and really get a sense for whether it’s going to be a good fit for them,” she said. “The face-to-face, one-on-one is still probably the most powerful tool as far as that goes.”

    Two students and three alumni interviewed who have participated in a Law School webinar said they found the online information sessions more convenient, and preferred that format to the traditional one.

    Hannah Geller ’07, who lives in upstate New York, said one advantage of viewing a webinar was that it eliminated a potential drive to New York City or New Haven.

    “It’s also nice that you’re not around people who have traveled a long way and are all wearing suits and trying to impress everyone,” she said.

    The two students interviewed also said they felt more comfortable asking questions at a webinar than an in-person information session.

    Correction: Jan. 24

    Due to an editorial error, this article misstated the class year of Yale Law School Dean of Admissions Asha Rangappa LAW ’00.

  8. Witt forgoes Rhodes for Game

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    Two weeks after becoming a Rhodes Scholarship Finalist, Yale quarterback Patrick Witt ’12 made the decision to play against Harvard in The Game on Saturday rather than attend his finalist interview for the Rhodes Scholarship.

    Witt officially announced on Sunday that he had withdrawn his application for the Rhodes Scholarship, giving him one last chance at beating Yale’s archrival. If he had chosen to stay in the running for the Rhodes, Witt would have had to travel to Emory University in Atlanta for the interview, which was to begin at 8 a.m., just four hours before the Bulldogs’ kickoff against the Crimson at noon in New Haven.

    “I will be playing in the Yale-Harvard game this Saturday,” Witt said in an official press release. . “My focus this week is solely on preparing for The Game alongside my teammates and coaches.”

    Witt told the News he is declining all interview requests this week.

    The senior signal caller received the official notification regarding his finalist status on Oct. 31, two days after leading the Elis to a 16–13 victory over Columbia.

    Since then, Witt’s dilemma has gained the attention of national media outlets including ESPN and Bloomberg. A week ago, Witt was featured on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams and said on national television that it wouldn’t feel right to leave his teammates to fend for themselves.

    While Witt has stayed silent throughout the past two weeks about his ultimate decision, he unofficially informed a few of his teammates about his decision earlier this week.

    “He told me a couple of days ago that he wasn’t going to continue to pursue the Rhodes Scholarship and was definitely going to play in The Game on Saturday,” wide receiver Chris Smith ’13 said. “I think he felt like that he had a responsibility as one of the best players on our team to be at The Game.”

    A history major with a 3.91 GPA, Witt transferred to Yale from the University of Nebraska, a national football powerhouse, two years ago. He has said in the past that he transferred in order to pursue his academic interests at Yale.

    Witt began working on his Rhodes application during the summer and secured an endorsement from Yale after a grueling interview with a three-member faculty panel in September.

    According to Witt’s teammates, his decision to forgo the Rhodes Scholarship was not unexpected.

    “I wasn’t surprised,” captain Jordan Haynes ’12 said. “I know how hard a decision it was for him, and I think it shows a lot about how good a teammate he is and how good a leader he is.”

    Director of Athletics Tom Beckett added that Witt, as one of the senior leaders on the team, wants to be a part of The Game especially in his last season at Yale.

    Three years ago, defensive back Casey Gerald ’09 faced a similar dilemma, forced to choose between The Game and his Rhodes finalist interview.

    However, Gerald’s Rhodes district split its interviews between Friday evening and Saturday morning. This allowed Gerald to interview on Friday and fly back in time for The Game. Rhodes District Six, where Witt filed his application, did not plan for any interviews on Friday and appeared unlikely to make special accommodations for him.

    “I had a feeling all along that he wasn’t going to miss The Game,” center John Oppenheimer ’14 said. “This decision just proves how much this football team means to him.”

    Giving up the Rhodes Scholarship might have been the easy part for the 22-year-old Witt, who will be able to reapply next year for the Rhodes — eligibility for the scholarship expires at age 24.

    The Elis will head into the 128th edition of The Game as the heavy underdog against an 8–1 Harvard team that clinched the Ivy League title on Saturday and has yet to lose an Ivy contest. The Crimson’s sole loss of the season came in its season opener against Holy Cross.

    But Witt’s teammates agree that he will give the Bulldogs the best chance to overcome Harvard, a feat Yale has not achieved since 2006.

    “Whenever Patrick is at quarterback, the offense is really confident that we are going to move the ball down the field,” Oppenheimer said. “Knowing that we are going to have him there — it means a lot to [us].”

    With six days left until the big game, the best way for Witt to vindicate his decision is to come up with a win along with his fellow seniors, who have yet to taste victory over the Crimson.

    “It means a lot to [the seniors] to have this one last battle together on the field,” Haynes said. “So we are excited that Patrick will be a part of that.”

    Yale’s head coach Tom Williams gave up his Rhodes finalist interview to attend a minicamp with the San Francisco 49ers.

  9. M. BASKETBALL | Elis open season with win

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    After a long preseason of practice, the Bulldogs were pleased to open the season with a 73–69 comeback victory over Central Connecticut State University in the annual 2011 Connecticut 6 Classic series at Mohegan Sun Arena.

    Although the Bulldogs went into the break down 30–34, Yale came out strong and went on a 16–1 run in the first six minutes of the second half to take control of the game. Forward Greg Kelley ’14 said that the senior class helped the team to overcome its first-half deficit and win.

    “The senior class really stepped it up,” Kelley said. “They set the tone.”

    Head coach James Jones said that although Central Connecticut’s full-court pressure led to 18 turnovers, the Bulldogs were able to break the press, leading to easy points.

    “When we were able to handle the pressure it created golden opportunities,” Jones said.

    Jones and Kelley said that one of the team’s problems in the first half was that it did not rebound the ball effectively. Kelley added that this allowed the Blue Devils to take too many easy shots, but the team corrected this mistake at halftime by making sure that all five players on the court crashed the defensive boards.

    Forward Greg Mangano ’12 led the team with 23 points and 13 boards. Captain Reggie Willhite ’12 scored 21 points to go along with six rebounds, five assists and six steals.

    Jones also pointed out that Central Connecticut got more rebounding opportunities because it did not have as high a shooting percentage as Yale did. The Bulldogs shot 45.8 percent from the floor, whereas the Blue Devils managed only 36.1 percent.

    Jones and guard Mike Grace ’14 both stated that the key to the game was defense. Grace and Jones added that Willhite was able to shut down Central Connecticut guard Robby Ptacek. Although Ptacek averaged 14.9 points last year, Willhite held him to 3–8 shooting and just seven points.

    “The defense Reggie played on Ptacek completely took him out of the game,” Grace said.

    Central Connecticut senior Ken Horton, last year’s Northeast Conference Player of the Year, scored 21 points for the Blue Devils, but he shot only 1–8 from beyond the arc. Kelley said that the Bulldogs were able to contest Horton’s shots so that he did not get easy looks from three-point range.

    Although Jones said that winning one game does not have a large impact on the season overall, Kelley stated that the victory will help the Bulldogs as they move into the rest of the season.

    Yale plays Tuesday at Quinnipiac University at 7 p.m.

  10. VOLLEYBALL | Bulldogs heading to NCAA tournament

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    It could hardly have been any sweeter.

    The volleyball team clinched a berth in the NCAA tournament and sole possession of the Ivy League title on Friday night against archrival Harvard in a 3–0 thumping of the Cantabs.

    “Being at Harvard, it’s just such a historic rivalry and clinching the solo championship there was a great situation and a great experience,” outside hitter Erica Reetz ’14 said.

    In their last Ivy weekend of the season, the Bulldogs (18–6, 12–2 Ivy) hit the road for matches at Harvard and Dartmouth. Already two games ahead in the conference, the Elis only needed to beat one of their two opponents to clinch their third trip to the NCAAs since 2004.

    After guaranteeing at least a share of the Ivy championship with a win over second-place Princeton last weekend, the win over Harvard gave Yale sole possession of the title. It is the Elis third Ivy crown in the past five seasons.

    The Bulldogs kicked off the weekend with a trip to Cambridge, Mass. to take on the Crimson (12–2, 5–9). Harvard struggled all season, and Friday night was no different as the Elis refused to make Saturday’s match against Dartmouth a must-win situation.

    The Crimson played its best volleyball of the night during the first set. The two sides battled back and forth early as the Elis tried to gain an edge.

    With the score tied at 16–16, Yale finally caught fire and pulled away. The team scored seven straight points to take a commanding 23–16 lead.

    The run started with consecutive kills by Reetz and Mollie Rogers ’15. It was Rogers’ fifth kill of the match. She would go on to record 17 total kills for one of her best performances of the season.

    “I just went into the match focusing on making it a team effort,” Rogers said. “It wasn’t about individual stats, just about us playing as a team and winning as a team.”

    After the Bulldogs put away the first set 25–20, Harvard offered much less resistance. The Elis opened up the second set with an 8–3 run that featured two kills from Haley Wessels ’13 and four unforced errors from a suddenly unfocused Crimson side. The Elis did not look back and took the set by a 25–18 score.

    Harvard was out of the match at that point. Down 2–0 and finishing up a disappointing sixth-place Ivy League finish, the Cantabs fell 25–13 to drop the match 3–0.

    On Saturday, the Bulldogs were in Hanover, N.H. for a meaningless Saturday match against Dartmouth (16–9, 8–6).

    Despite the fact that Yale had already clinched its NCAA bid, the box score was filled with the usual suspects. While some teams may have rested the regulars, head coach Erin Appleman said that she wanted to enter the NCAA tournament off a win rather than a loss.

    “I think going into the tournament it would have been nice to be on an eight game win streak,” she said.

    After dropping the first set by a narrow 26–24 margin, the Elis stormed back to take the second set, 25–18.

    In a pivotal third set, the Elis again came out on the wrong side of a 26–24 score. With the score tied at 24, Dartmouth scored two straight points and capped off the set with a service ace.

    Even though they had nothing left to play for, the Bulldogs refused to go down without a fight.

    “No matter what match we’re coming into we want to perform our best and try to improve,” Reetz said.

    Yale did just that in the fourth set. They fought back and tied the match at 2–2 behind seven kills from Frappier. Those points were part of a 17-kill performance from Frappier, a match high.

    But the comeback would ultimately fall short as Dartmouth jumped out to a 6–0 lead in the fifth set and never looked back to take a 15–10 win.

    “It was an emotional night for Dartmouth,” Appleman said. “It was a match that unfortunately we weren’t focused for and we didn’t play nearly as good as we needed to.”

    After the Ivy title the Elis have some time off. They will not know who their first round opponent is until Nov. 27. In the meantime, they will be keeping their game sharp in practice. Appleman said that the team will go home for Thanksgiving and will have about a week to prepare for the tournament upon their return. Their first NCAA tournament match will be played in the first weekend in December.

    This year’s Ivy Championship marks the fourth title in the past eight years for the volleyball team and its eighth consecutive season with over ten wins in conference play.

  11. M. SOCCER | Elis finish winning season

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    The Bulldogs pulled off their first winning season in six years Saturday.

    Although Yale’s game against Princeton this weekend was not for the Ivy championship, the team managed to put the breaks on a losing streak. The Bulldogs beat Princeton 2-1 on the road Saturday and finished the season over 0.500 in wins for the first time since 2005. Captain Chris Dennen ’12 said the win was important for the team to maintain a winning record. Had Yale fallen to the Tigers, the Bulldogs would have finished with a losing 7–8 record.

    “We’ve had a successful season … It was something we wanted for ourselves,” Dennen said. “We deserved a winning record.”

    This year marks the first winning season for Dennen. During his freshman year, the team went 7-7 overall and 3-3 in Ivy League play. In 2009 and 2010, however, the Elis won a combined three Ivy League games. In both years the team dropped its season finale to Princeton. This year, the Elis entered the game on a two-game losing streak, after both Columbia and Brown kept them out of the score column.

    After the first half at Princeton, the Bulldogs trailed by one. But at halftime Dennen said the team’s confidence remained high.

    “We said if we score a goal, we’re going to win this game … We’ve got 45 minutes to make this right,” Dennen said. “Everyone was focused and came out with good determination.”

    Foward Peter Jacobson ’14 would score off of two long balls from outside defender Milan Tica ’13, to put the Bulldogs up 2–1. The shots marked Jacobson’s sixth and seventh goals of the season and tied him for fourth in the Ivy League in goals.

    Tica played an instrumental role in the Yale attack as opposing defenses clamped down in Ivy League play, although his efforts weren’t reflected in the stat line until his two assists to Jacobson.

    The Tigers pressured Yale’s defense in the second half by putting six shots on goal. Goalkeeper Bobby Thalman ’13 made six saves, but credited his defense with preventing some of the Tigers’ best players from taking full advantage of their shots. Thalman ended the season with 92 saves, the most of any Ivy League men’s soccer goalkeeper by a margin of 20. Thalman said the team didn’t want to end the season with three losses in a row.

    Instead Yale ended with eight victories, four in Ivy League play, a record good enough to put the team within only two points of co-Ivy champions Dartmouth and Brown, who tied 0–0 in double overtime Saturday. Until last week’s overtime loss to Brown, the Bulldogs were in direct competition for the Title, a dramatic improvement over last season when the team appeared out of contention, as it only won one Ivy game.

    Head coach Brian Tompkins said the seniors’ leadership was at the heart of the team’s improved play.

    “The senior class has a persistence and belief that has rubbed-off on everybody in the squad,” Tompkins said.

    Dennen said his class strived to create a strong “culture of winning.”

    Thalman and Tica added that the seniors’ work ethic had led to an increase in confidence for the team.

    “Our seniors this year set a high standard … all of the guys returning will definitely remember that when we start training during the off season,” Tica said.

    Thalman said the team would miss the efforts of its seven seniors, who contributed for almost half of the team’s goals and assists for the year.

    “We need to keep our work rate up … [and] maintain the confidence we have right now,” Thalman said. “It was good to get a winning season, but we’re never satisfied until we achieve our ultimate goal of winning the Ivy League and going deep into the NCAA tournament.”

    Contact david mcneill at

  12. Brain scans measure racial bias

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    Researchers at Yale Law School have discovered that brain scans may better predict jurors’ racial bias than previously established methods of testing.

    In a new study published in the journal Social Neuroscience last week, Yale researchers studied the correlation between compensation in employment discrimination cases and brain activity during tests for racial bias. The study concluded that functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) scans may better predict verdict size than the traditional tests. The results may be significant to the developing field of neurolaw in providing a way to ensure an unbiased jury — a Constitutional requirement — but outside psychologists said the study’s significance is limited by its small sample size.

    “This is a novel result, obtained with novel methods,” Tony Greenwald ’59, professor of psychology at University of Washington, wrote in an email to the News. He added that the researchers established a new method to analyze the fMRI results which looked at the entire brain instead of just specific “regions of interest.”

    Researchers asked study participants to match images of black and white faces with positive, negative, and neutral adjectives, according to varying sets of rules. For example, they might be told to match all “black faces and positive adjectives” as quickly as possible.

    In the Implicit Association test (IAT), which has been used since the 1990s to reveal subconscious biases, researchers measure the reaction speed with which participants match the faces and adjectives such as “good” or “bad”, with a longer reaction time signifying a bias against associating the two terms. For example, a subject biased against blacks might take longer to match a black face with a positive adjective.

    The fMRI measured the neural activity of participants while taking the test, tracking changes in blood flow across brain regions. Researchers then correlated these results with the money subjects awarded victims of employment discrimination in theoretical cases.

    The study found that the variation in fMRI brain imaging results had a higher correlation with the verdict sizes than the IAT test result variation did.

    “Our study demonstrates that fMRI measures might have more predictive value than commonly used behavioral measures such as the implicit association test.” Marvin Chun, professor of psychology and co-author of the study, said in an email to the News.

    The 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination on racial grounds and provides discrimination victims a judicial means of redress through the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, which can file lawsuits on behalf of employees. The monetary compensation is often determined by a jury, and the verdict size may be influenced by the conscious and subconscious biases of the jurors, said Harrison Korn ’11 LAW ’14, a co-author of the study. Korn is a former associate managing editor for presentation at the News.

    “We are not suggesting that people go out and start scanning jurors, but it does raise the issue that unconscious bias is a problem and we should be looking for ways to counteract it,” Korn said.

    He added that the high cost of fMRIs — almost $1,000 per participant in this study ­— and the perception of neural scans as invasive make it impractical to scan each potential juror in the jury selection process.

    The study emphasizes, however, that the American legal system must provide unbiased juries in order to ensure due process of law. In an email to the News, Director of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience, Owen Jones LAW ’91 said that the while the results of the study will not revolutionize juror selection, they may help researchers to develop better understandings of human bias. For example, in a 2007 New York Times article, Jones suggested that lawyers could use brain scans of potential jurors to exclude those who were unlikely to be sympathetic to their argument.

    “Anything that helps us to understand the mechanisms of racial bias might help us to develop better systems for identifying it, combatting it, and minimizing its effects,” Jones wrote in the email.

    Brian Nosek GRD ’02, associate professor of psychology at University of Virginia, said he questioned the “predictive validity” of fMRI studies due to their limited sample sizes, which are often a result of the high cost of brain imaging. After eliminating six subjects because of technical difficulties, the Yale study was comprised of 19 white, non-Hispanic subjects between 18 and 26 years of age.

    Other scientists were similarly wary of extrapolating from the results before they were confirmed by larger studies.

    “It’s a result that needs corroboration by further research before one should venture any confident interpretations.” Greenwald wrote.

    In fiscal year 2010, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received almost 100,000 reports of employment discrimination.