To the Editor:
Since my graduation from Yale, I have voted annually for an alumni fellow for the Yale Corporation. On Wednesday evening, I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet one of this year’s candidates, the Rev. W. David Lee DIV ’93, at a gathering at the Yale Club of New York City hosted by the Rev. W. Franklyn Richardson DIV ’81, Lee’s mentor.
Both Richardson and Lee spoke with feeling about the contrast between Yale, with its wealth of resources, and New Haven, with its relative lack thereof. Indeed, Richardson compared the relationship between Yale and New Haven to that between antebellum plantation owners and their servants, strongly suggesting a need for a redistribution of resources. Lee referred specifically to the inadequacy of the New Haven public school system and, as a teacher who has taught in public as well as private schools in New Haven and New York City, I was eager to hear his suggestions for improvement.
I was disappointed to find that he had none, despite a direct query on the subject.
I attended this evening’s gathering well aware of the reports that Lee’s candidacy for the Yale Corporation was initiated with the support of $30,000 in local union funds, but I was determined not to let this information affect my judgment of him. Yet Lee’s only specific comments all pertained to the inadequate income of Yale’s employees, a broad group that does not actually lend itself to classification in a single category.
Lee declared that he would be the only member of the Yale Corporation to speak for the people of New Haven as well as Yale, and yet he had no platform of specific ideas that might benefit Yale-New Haven relations. His only fact-based statement was his assertion that, in Connecticut, a decent living wage is $17 per hour, while Yale pays its employees only $9 per hour. In fact, $9 is the hourly wage paid to some part-time employees. Full-time employees receive not only a higher wage, but also an enviable package of benefits, including over a month of paid vacation as well as assistance both with mortgage payments on New Haven home purchases and with college tuition for employees’ children.
Tonight I had hoped to learn more about Lee’s plans to help Yale and New Haven. After the evening’s meeting, however, I can only conclude with regret that he has no such plans.
Laura Rose Aziz ’79
April 17, 2002