It has recently come to our attention that the Yale University history department, previously an exemplary withholder of academic information, has allowed a substantial leak. In an unprecedented move last Friday, Essie Lucky-Barrows, the history department administrative assistant, e-mailed rising history major seniors to inform them of a mandatory meeting scheduled for this Monday. The informative session, with Director of Undergraduate Studies Paul Freedman, was billed as “crucial for a successful senior year.”
Though regrettable, this recent lapse is not representative of an otherwise pristine history department track record. The past academic year alone, the department has successfully obscured critical announcements of the mandatory Library Orientation Tour, as well as the upcoming deadlines for seminar pre-registration. These tidbits, disclosed arbitrarily to a small fraction of history majors for appeasement purposes, effectively remained hidden from most others. They remained beyond the detection of all but the most skilled Yalie’s information reconnaissance missions.
In most other areas, University academic advising has successfully complied with the doctrines of the Yale Academics Furtiveness in Teaching Act. The case study of one political science-oriented freshman exemplifies this trend. Assigned to be the advisee of the women’s tennis coach, he ventured by bus to the Coxe Field House, only to find himself informing his advisor — who was not a member of any Yale academic department — about the features of a typical freshman course load. Other Yale freshmen typically spend their advisor meetings reviewing the subtleties of the “three courses from each distributional group” rule.
After freshman year, Yale undergraduates generally remain under the effective supervision of YAFTA-era University secrecy. Our data shows that the typical advisor-advisee briefing lasts 90 seconds, long enough to make introductions, review academic well-being pleasantries and exchange signatures. For the persistent students who attempt to extract any further information from the Yale Advising Fortress, the central YAFTA tenet — “That’s not really my department” — continues to yield impressive results.
This response embodies two of “Four D’s” of YAFTA-era University policy: Delegating advising tasks and deflecting inquiries. The third D is for detection, as in the case of the recent exposure of a Calhoun junior who, maddened by his so-called “advisor’s” unannounced midyear departure from Yale, attempted to build a tunnel under the political science department in hopes of eavesdropping on department intelligence. He was flogged and fined $35.
Despite these successes, a new presence on the University stage threatens to permanently alter the strategic landscape. This is the recent upsurge of the revived Undergraduate Career Services.
Previously little more than an effective tool for undergraduate abduction, the relocated and reinforced UCS already is challenging YAFTA-era University hegemony. Led by Phillip Jones, UCS has taken Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) to unprecedented new heights. With a constant, multi-wave campaign of e-mails informing Yale students about everything from medical school applications to resume workshops, Jones and his cohorts tirelessly undermine all university policies striving to keep undergraduates in the dark.
Our sources have revealed that certain academic departments, too, work against the creeds of YAFTA, and keep Yale students informed. The psychology department produces a weekly newsletter alerting psych majors of important deadlines and opportunities. This dangerous undergraduate-friendly ideology could easily spread into neighboring departments. The last of the “Four D’s” is for the Domino Effect.
What to do? In this newly bilateral university, we must uncompromisingly stick to our ideals. Following the recent discovery of the EP-3E plane spying on HGS, the history department’s offices will be swept for bugs and wiretaps.
All locks in the office will be altered, as will all deadlines that could have been discovered. And above all, those irresponsible kids must apologize. They almost ruined us.
Frances Brown is a junior in Branford College. She will be in Kuwait this summer searching for an oil tycoon with a heart of gold.