Cross Campus | 3:52 pm | December 7, 2013 | By Abigail Bessler

Gifting your way to an A

Unfortunately the News does not print during Reading Week, but Cross Campus will be running a special item everyday for the rest of the term.  XC wishes you a happy holiday-finals! For Saturday, in honor of the grand Yale tradition of grade-grubbing…

Michaela Johnson ’17 has a serious problem. Her Elementary Dutch class is organizing a secret santa exchange for the holidays, or as known in the Netherlands St. Nicolas Day, and she was assigned Bonifacius Wassing. Her professor.

“I don’t know what grade I’m at right now,” Johnson said with a sigh. “I’m pretty sure I’m at a B-plus in this class. I want an A. In other words, this gift needs to be perfect.”

Johnson said she is considering giving Professor Wassing stripped socks. She said she was initially going to buy him sewing tools, since he sews his own clothes, but she worried the gift might be a tad too unconventional. An added challenge? It all has to be under $15.

Unfortunately for Johnson, it appears Yale professors and teaching fellows have outrageously high and pricy expectations for grade-bumping holiday gifts. In honor of the grand Yale tradition of grade-grubbing, Cross Campus asked various professors what gift would make them consider giving student grades that little extra push into the A-range.

French professor Ruth Koizim said only an apartment on the Ile St. Louis would be suitable. Which is too bad, considering a 17-square meter apartment there rents for $1,639 per month. That’s $1,624 over Johnson’s limit, and the gift budgets of most students, but hey — could you even put a price on a 4.0?

Jason Stearns, a teaching fellow for Jolyon Howorth’s Introduction to International Relations course, suggested students could score extra points only if they gave him “a day in a sauna with Vladimir Putin.”

“If you can tutor my daughter, that’d be great,” suggested economics professor Christopher Udry. “Make her understand economics.”

Students proposed their own ideas for the perfect gift.

Zach Blickensderfer ‘16 said he would give his Discrete Mathematics professor the “solution for the Ramsey Equation.” Omar McKenzie ‘14 thought that he might offer professor George Chauncey, who teaches his U.S. Lesbian and Gay History course, the gift of “equality.”

But students could take a lesson from English professor Craig Fehrman. Fehrman said after all grading all his students’ essays, the last thing he wants is an English-related present. Instead of a book or evening with a famous author, he’d prefer “a TV and a good NBA game.”

Meanwhile, there are the more obvious choices. For example, recent Nobel prize winner professors Robert Shiller and James Rothman might appreciate a new trophy case once they return from the awards ceremony in Sweden this week, or maybe an oil painting of themselves in the style of White House portraits since have now entered the pantheon of academic gods. Students might also consider stealing a YUAG Greek vase and dropping it off as a surprise at the office of Donald Kagan. Lastly, it will probably be predictable but always appreciated for a student to take the initiative and order several years’ subscriptions to The Economist for John Gaddis this time of year. But then again, what do you give professors who already have everything?

Comments