Ashlyn Oakes

The student income contribution here at Yale is a profoundly unfair institution. It penalizes those of us who come from families that take financial aid and, in the process, creates two Yales — one for students who have to work campus jobs, and one for students who don’t. Moreover, the student income contribution implicitly says that those of us on financial aid don’t contribute to the Yale community, which is simply untrue. Musicians contribute their song; athletes, their prowess; writers, their words. In that spirit, I’d like to say to University President Peter Salovey and the Yale Corporation: Aren’t the unholy, deformed abominations I create at night in my underground lab a contribution to the Yale community?

First of all, I think it’s important to note that the monstrous blights on God’s creation I make out of strange chemical compounds and animal corpses contribute materially to the Yale community. The enormous three-headed mole that lives deep beneath Woodbridge Hall protects President Salovey from underground threats. The dagger-fanged pseudo-wolf that glows an unearthly green provides helpful illumination at night; if you give it a steak that’s been soaked in human blood, it’ll even walk alongside you for a while! And do you ever wonder how the grass on Cross Campus gets aerated? Why, by the aimless, terrified wanderings of the Spiny Stranger, of course!

Now, don’t get me wrong: it’s important that my living insults to holiness contribute physically to the college. But they also help improve Yale’s reputation. My precious Skindancer showcases the value of the arts at Yale as it tumbles horribly through the streets of New Haven on full-moon nights, bleating its awful, guttural song. The thousands of super-intelligent eels that have taken over the Pierson kitchen let visiting prospective students know that Yale is a place of plentiful eels. And let’s not forget the seven-horned slithering thing that I released into the wilds of the north last year: although it is as intelligent as you or I, the only word its altered vocal cords allow it to painfully croak out is “Yale”!

While I don’t feel that the money that Yale gets from the student income contribution is really that important, compared to the college’s $25 billion endowment, I do feel that I should probably mention that my godforsaken beasts also generate Yale quite a bit of revenue. Ever wonder where the sloppy, slime-covered piles of coins, bills and credit cards that show up every morning in David Swenson’s office come from? What about the bracelets, watches, gold fillings and other remnants of mysteriously vanished tourists that always seem to make their way to the steps of Woodbridge Hall by daybreak? Say what you will about student activism, but never say that my horde of soulless creatures and I don’t contribute to Yale.

Also: all of my creations are able to feel pain. I just want to emphasize that.

Now, the thing that bothers me most about the discourse around the student income contribution is the idea that students who want to end the contribution are, in some way, not grateful enough to Yale. This is, of course, ridiculous. I’m profoundly grateful to Yale, and my work bears that out. Take, for instance, my greatest creation, a sort of gnarled, ghastly half-man who lives in a twisted tower on Science Hill, eating scraps of bread from the dining halls and screaming curses in an ancient tongue at God Himself. First of all, I’ve taught him to show proper respect for the bodies of the students and Yale Security officers he’s accidentally killed from not knowing his own power; what’s more, I named him after Peter Salovey! Please don’t assume that I’m not grateful for everything that Yale has given me just because I want to have the same Yale experience as my peers.

In sum, those of us who are against the student income contribution aren’t lazy or entitled. We just want Yale’s administration to understand that there’s no good reason we should be held to a different standard than students who aren’t on financial aid. Just as importantly, we contribute mightily to campus: through art, hard work and lab-created disgraces to the Lord’s name that slowly slither and clatter up Harkness Tower as darkness falls, sounding their gargling, pained cries to the midnight sky. In the end, isn’t that enough?