Although I was quite glad to see Marissa Medansky’s name (“The Ball in Salovey’s court,” Oct. 11) on this page once again, she is wrong. A presidential inauguration should be an occasion marked by pomp. Pomp is one of Yale’s great features, and an expression of the school’s uniquely democratic elitism.
Yale takes students from across the country, from all sorts of backgrounds. While there is, of course, still much room for the University to broaden its outreach to working-class students, Yale is considerably more democratic than it was a hundred years ago, or than most universities are today.
When they get to Yale, students join a grandiose tradition, something many of our ancestors never would have dreamed could be accessible. My grandfather is floored every time he sees Yale’s majesty and knows that is my world. He becomes giddy at the very mention of Mory’s, once a boyhood icon from a pop song.
Pomp is also fun. An opulent life makes a person feel bigger, more important, and more in-tune with traditions that transcend any tenure of four years at Yale. In the few months since commencement, I’ve missed that. Life without regular cocktail parties and black-tie banquets can seem somewhat duller.
There’s a reason Jay Gatsby is so alluring. He, like Yale, makes us believe we can be anything — he makes us all feel elite. And he does so by throwing spectacularly lavish parties.
Yale is one of very few institutions that can do the same thing today, and both the school and its promise are much more real than Gatsby and his dream.
The author is a 2013 graduate of Berkeley College and a former opinion editor for the News.
Keeping Sandy Hook
I have been thinking about the decision to demolish the Sandy Hook Elementary School and to build a new school in its place. The State of Connecticut has generously offered $50 million to accomplish this project, and building is expected to start a year from now. Is this really necessary? Are there not better options?
A similar evil befell the elementary school of Dunblane, Scotland, in March of 1996, when a shooter entered the gym and killed 16 children and an adult before turning the gun on himself. The gymnasium was demolished and replaced by a memorial garden. The school itself was preserved, and the memory of the evil was integrated into the renewed life of the school and its children and staff.
My instinct favors the Dunblane response. “Working through” the events that wound and terrify can free us of their power. Healing often involves facing the places and people that have caused harm. The power of life, love and joy to re-sanctify that which has been violated is a mystery of the spirit. Life truly has the last word.
The Rev. Bruce Shipman
The author is the chaplain of the Episcopal Church at Yale.
Sometimes don’t go
Phil Wilkinson’s column (“Never don’t go,” Oct. 11) convincingly argues that an experience abroad, especially a fully funded one, can be an eye-opening and potentially life-changing undertaking. But there are two problems.
Firstly, there are other ways of opening our eyes without seeking out a different campus. There are ways of altering your Yale experience without rupturing community bonds and friendships. Moreover, one does not need to leave the country in order to leave Yale, and we should be wary of arguments based on the exotic appeal of a foreign country.
Secondly, there are other, no less worthy, causes around which to structure our time at Yale than studying abroad. Sure, a university education can be a time to take advantage of opportunities to rack up life experiences. But it can also be a time to grow not through change but through constancy — forming and building on friendships that last all four years or participating in extracurricular projects that build on one another.
We would do well to remember these reasons lest we fall prey to the false promise that the grass is greener on the other side of the pond.
The author is a senior in Jonathan Edwards College.