To the Editor:
The Yale Daily News is absolutely correct in its statement in the News’ View yesterday that “to suggest that Dwight Hall today must in some way atone for Dwight’s sins is ludicrous.” (“Dwight Hall plaque an unnecessary response,” 11/13) Yet to claim that an act of rededication to social justice as signified by the plaque presented yesterday is equivalent to an apology is irresponsible. It is not Dwight Hall that has been propagating an apologetic image; indeed they have taken pains not to do so, instead it is the News with such non-representative headlines as “Dwight Hall still making amends” and disjointed linkages between Dwight Hall and the Rev. Eric Smith’s group interested in seeking reparations from the university that has created this image.
The greatest good that the “Yale, Slavery and Abolition” report has accomplished here at Yale is to rekindle interest in race relations and racial prejudice. Yale, as an institution, has lost much of its energy in dealing with its own problems. One can still look at the tenured faculty or the disparity between Local 34 (predominantly white) and Local 35 (predominantly black) to point to the problems at Yale.
It would behoove Yale to follow Dwight Hall’s lead and use the report as an opportunity to rededicate itself to combatting the racial problems that exist even on this campus. Rededication is neither an apology nor an inane exercise, but instead a powerful tool for the revitalization of one’s efforts.
Vidhya Prabhakaran ’03
November 13, 2001
The writer is president of the Yale College Council.