I’m angry because the ladies of Whim ‘n Rhythm have to work their butts off to make a fifth of the Whiffenpoofs’ budget, but will receive a fiftieth of the recognition. I’m angry because, as the future business manager of Whim ‘n Rhythm, I’m 100 percent committed to the group and yet there are people out there who are claiming that I somehow hurt Whim when I auditioned for the Whiffs. And I’m angry that people assume that, were I chosen for both groups, I would have joined the Whiffenpoofs over Whim ‘n Rhythm.
I’m angry, but I’m also happy and proud and hopeful.
All of us in this conversation agree that Whim ‘n Rhythm is at a rather large disadvantage relative to the Whiffenpoofs of Yale Inc. Some would say the solution is for Whim to work a little harder, be a little better, ignore the Whiffs and forge ahead!
The thing is — Whim already works incredibly hard. I can attest that both the pitch and biz of Whim’s 2012 class are two of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met, and they’re both crazy about Whim, but that doesn’t mean that Whim didn’t have to cut countries out of their summer tour, while the Whiffs flitted around the world. Their Whim album is phenomenal — actually, it’s the only a cappella album I’ve ever listened to, in full, more than once. Tracks from that album have been nominated for several awards. The 2012 Whiffenpoof album from that year has yet to be released on CD.
So, if it’s not about a work ethic or sound quality, then … it’s probably because the Whim girls aren’t taking a year off, some say. The thing is — the Whiff year is a new phenomenon for the Whiffenpoofs, too, and inequality between the groups didn’t sprout within the last 10 years. If any of the new Whim taps are interested in taking the year off, they should consider doing so, but we shouldn’t have to take a year off to catch up with the Whiffs.
My audition for the Whiffenpoofs was in no way a statement that all singing groups and organizations should be coeducational. You want a boys club? Fine by me. I am absolutely thrilled to be singing alongside a group of incredibly talented female singers. But this debate isn’t just about “some singing group.” This is about the most well-known a cappella group in the country. It’s about a group often considered, whether we like it or not, to be the face of Yale, and I see no reason why women should not be a part of that face. In my ideal world, Whim ‘n Rhythm and the Whiffenpoofs merge together to allow for the legacy of both groups to continue — but that wasn’t going to happen this year.
Instead, a conversation has started. Where before it was happening behind closed doors and over cups at Mory’s, it is now being had in the open. The next step toward equality is making sure that this conversation does not become muted. We, both in and out of the a cappella community, have to actively keep this discussion alive and work to create some sort of change, because we all recognize that there is a problem and we haven’t tried to find a solution.
For the time being, I’m going to go enjoy this tap night. I’ll take a break from essay-writing to join Whim ‘n Rhythm and begin to (tearily) take leave of my coed undergrad group. I’m beyond excited to meet and gather with the fantastic men and women that will comprise the Whiffs and Whim next year, and I can’t wait to work with them to start taking steps to figure out what the future holds for senior singers at Yale.
So yes, I’m angry. But anger might be just what this conversation needs.
Mary Bolt is a junior in Jonathan Edwards College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .