Yale is unique in an overwhelming number of ways, but according to Eric Stern ’15, there is one major aspect, one facet, which is often overlooked in brochures and college handbooks that makes Yale a truly special place.
“Ask every Yale tour guide, they all use West Wing Weekly on their tours as an example of a quirky student group that makes Yale unique,” Stern said. Of course, he is the president of West Wing Weekly, an organization where students watch an episode of Aaron Sorkin’s mid-2000s political drama, “The West Wing.”
This week, at the club’s annual holiday party, the club’s members gathered to chat, eat cake and take a break from their last week of classes. Stern happily shared in conversation, before he eagerly went to the projector to start this week’s selection — “In Excelsis Deo,” the Christmas-themed 10th episode of the show’s first season.
Stern believes that Yale should put his club in a brochure, because WWW is a big advertisement for the school. He pointed out that if you went to Harvard, you wouldn’t find a West Wing Weekly there.
“They don’t love America as much as we do,” Stern noted.
Originally conceived as a weekly break from the trials and tribulations of the Yale routine, West Wing Weekly began when Stern found out that one of his friends had yet to experience the brilliance of “The West Wing” — an absolute “travesty.”
From then on, viewings were weekly, and the club really took off when Stern realized that he could get university funding for it. Since then, it has developed into far more than a weekly hour-long study break.
“I’m really surprised that it has gotten this big,” said Andres Bustamente ’15, adding that WWW, as the group calls itself, is a great way to meet new people.
Hayden Latham ’15 agreed that this social aspect really made the club remarkable, and that she found it a door to encountering people from different backgrounds. She is a biology major and an athlete, but came to the club out of an interest in politics. She emphasized that everyone else who attends the weekly session is unique in their own regard.
WWW, by the way, doesn’t have an official location, often changing rooms when they are booked for other events. This makes meetings all the more exciting, as the nomadic aspiring politicians of West Wing Weekly seek out a new place to revel in the show each week.
Latham’s favorite thing about the West Wing Weekly remains the parties, however — something Bustamente agrees with.
“The holiday parties, the end of semester parties, they’re all incredible,” Bustamente said, adding that the cakes and collectibles at the events are “ridiculous.”
Indeed, Stern takes pride in putting their funding to good use and propagating awareness of the organization as much as possible, in as many ways as possible. The club already has T-shirts and its own logo. For next semester, Stern is thinking of making West Wing Weekly “shades.”
But for Stern and the members of the organization, West Wing Weekly isn’t just another bland event where you go in and out to get food. It’s a community, and one with an impressive array of goodies at that.
The group tends to be united by an interest in politics. Stern noted that he would love to see America’s political landscape become more Sorkinesque — molded by the ideas of the TV show’s creator, Aaron Sorkin, whose characters serve as an inspiration for many members of the group. Stern said that there may be a future Josh Lyman in the group, but he sees himself more as a future Bruno Gianelli, a campaign manager on the show.
West Wing Weekly’s members skew liberal, but Stern maintains that it is nonpartisan — all you have to be is a political idealist.
“On the surface we watch a TV show, but I want to go change the world.”