As this year’s Yale Corporation election race between New Haven pastor the Rev. W. David Lee DIV ’93 and famed architect Maya Lin ’81 ARC ’86 continues, a group of undergraduates has placed a pro-Lee advertisement in the April issue of the Yale Alumni Magazine in response to a previously published anti-Lee ad.
A loosely organized alumni group led by Henry “Sam” Chauncy ’57 purchased the ad in the March issue decrying Lee’s campaign and his connection with Yale’s unions. The pro-Lee advertisement slated to appear in the next issue has a headline reading “Students are not a Special Interest” and pictures 17 undergraduates.
Carter Wiseman ’68, the editor of the alumni magazine since 1986, said that during his tenure no advertisements advocating Corporation candidates had been placed in the magazine.
“We have had some advocacy advertising, and the magazine’s board of directors many years ago established a policy on that which provided that the magazine would accept advocacy advertising as long as it was accurate, not libelous, not in bad taste,” Wiseman said.
Yale President Richard Levin and University Secretary Linda Lorimer would not comment on the two advertisements.
Lee launched his unorthodox candidacy by collecting over 4,000 signatures from alumni. He is the first Corporation candidate to campaign for the office by fund raising, mailings, and soliciting political endorsements.
Katie Kline ’03, pictured and listed as a member of the Dwight Hall Executive Committee, said the ad and picture were “pulled together over the course of a couple of days as a sort of ad hoc thing.”
Alek Felstiner ’04, listed as a member of the Student Labor Action Coalition, said the ad was a response to the earlier anti-Lee ad. That ad was sponsored by a group of prominent alumni ranging from former Corporation member and National Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke ’71 FOR ’74 to football legend Calvin Hill ’69.
“I hope that the ad I participated in helps give some sort of adequate response to some ad placed by other alumni — that accused Rev. Lee of being party to special interests,” Felstiner said. “I was really sort of disappointed to see that because I don’t know where it was coming from and I didn’t think it was accurate. — It was needlessly harsh.”
Other students pictured echoed his sentiments.
“It is hypocritical to have this kind of anti-Lee coalition that is seemingly forming. — Though there is no specific connection to the administration, it is pretty easily inferred,” said Howard H. Han ’05, pictured and identified as a Yale College Council member. “For them to go on their own personal campaign against another candidate is a tad bit immature. — I never like this in any realm of politics.”
Chauncy, who said his name was not listed on the ad because he had written a letter to the editor about the Corporation election in the same issue, said the group did not get any advance notice of Lin’s candidacy and did not know about her candidacy at the time of publication, but would have advocated her candidacy had the information been available.
Chauncy said the seven names listed in the ad were friends of his who, with the exception of Elias Clark ’43, were students during his time at Yale as dean of undergraduate students, special assistant to the president, and university secretary.
“Some of them were on the Corporation; some were not,” Chauncy said. “All of them have had a role in serving and working for Yale, something Mr. Lee has never done as an alumnus.”
Chauncy said when he first heard someone was running as a petition candidate, he thought it was fine, but later changed his mind.
“I began to have doubts when I learned from a newspaper article that he had accepted money for his campaign from the two labor unions,” Chauncy said. “I believe that you can’t have good trustees who represent special interests.”
Chauncy said he is most concerned with alumni having enough information to be able to make an informed decision.
“If they have all the facts, whatever decision they would make would be the right one,” Chauncy said.