Students got a rare opportunity to question Yale President Richard Levin and other top administrators Wednesday night at an Open Forum organized by the Yale College Council.
Approximately 85 people attended the forum in Sudler Hall. Levin; Richard Brodhead, dean of Yale College; Bob Culver, vice president of Finance and Administration; and Michael Morand, associate vice president of the Office of New Haven and State Affairs were the panelists.
Students were invited to submit questions ahead of time, 15 of which were then randomly selected. YCC President Vidhya Prabhakaran ’03 said 72 questions were submitted, but many of the topics coincided.
Prabhakaran said the questions ranged from the serious, such as Yale’s policy on the d4T AIDS drug, to whether Levin wears boxers or briefs.
In the only major announcement of the evening, Levin told surprised students that plans for the renovation of Dwight Hall are already under way.
Environmental questions dominated the forum. Jude Joffe-Block ’04 asked how the University plans to reduce energy demand.
“The provost recently put together a committee with the objective of dealing with all aspects of energy consumption,” Culver said. “The objective is to reduce the amount of money we spend and the amount of energy we consume.”
Culver said that the Kyoto Protocol calls for a 10 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and that Yale has gone beyond that figure and reduced its emissions by 15 percent.
Andrew Kroon ’04 and Noah Chesnin ’04 asked whether Levin plans to charge the Advisory Committee on Environmental Management with drafting an environmental policy.
Levin deferred the question because Provost Alison Richard is in charge of that committee.
“I’m a little disappointed in his reluctance to give me a straight answer,” Kroon said. “He referred back to the bureaucratic machine that has been tripping us up for a long time, although he seemed more amenable to the idea than he has in the past.”
Abigail Levine ’02 and Casey Pitts ’03 asked about the University’s response to the “Yale, Slavery and Abolition” report, which detailed the involvement with slavery of many Yale graduates and past administrators.
“I think the report clearly affects what we all know,” Morand said. “We all have a responsibility to reckon with history.”
While Morand did not offer a concrete response to the report, he said Yale is a community with many different parts that is open to ideas from various organizations.
Cathy de la Aguilera ’04 asked how Yale planned to increase the number of tenured women faculty, and Abbey Hudson ’03 inquired about plans to increase the number of tenured minorities.
Brodhead said that the number of tenured women has increased from 31 in the spring of 1998 to 57 this year.
“The problem with tenured women at Yale is that it is not a problem in every department of Yale,” Brodhead said. “I don’t think any of us will be totally satisfied [until the numbers are equal].”
Last year, only Levin fielded questions at the forum, but because students asked a wide range of questions, the YCC decided to invite more administrators this time.
“Last year, students could just go up to the microphone and kind of unleash their anger at the system,” forum coordinator Andrew Klaber ’04 said. “[This year the administrators] had ample opportunity to look at these issues and come prepared to the forum.”
Levin thought the changed format was a benefit to the forum.
“I was skeptical before the event, but I think that it worked well,” Levin said. “It gave us a chance to think about the questions and do a little research on our side.”
–Staff Reporter Elise Jordan contributed to this story