In response to its academic rivals, Yale boosts financial aid

When Princeton University announced last January that it would eliminate student loans and replace them with Princeton grants in financial aid packages, the move reverberated throughout the Ivy League, applying pressure on peer institutions to follow suit. Yale students voiced disapproval of the University’s inaction as Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Dartmouth College all announced similar plans to reduce students’ self-help contribution with grants.

But at the beginning of the 2001 school year, Yale finally announced a sweeping plan of financial aid reform, reducing the amount students must contribute to their education by $13,780 over four years, lowering the self-help portion to $3,900 for all students.

The amount of funding to students yields figures similar to those of other schools — Harvard gave all students $2,000 grants, while Yale is giving underclassmen $2,320 and upperclassmen $4,520. All in all, Yale’s self-effort portion has been reduced from $7,820 to $5,500 for freshmen, from $8,320 to $5,900 for sophomores, and from $10,420 to $5,900 for juniors and seniors.

The $6.34 million student contribution plan is flexible, lowering summer contributions and allowing the new grant money to be used to cover loans, term-time work or summer work. As part of a summer pact with 27 other universities, the plan includes a $1.2 million change to parental contribution that was a part of Yale’s new $7.5 million investment in financial aid.

Yale’s history linked to slavery

Three Yale doctoral candidates published a report in August about the role Yale figures played in the slavery and abolitionist movements, initiating debates about whether colleges should be renamed and whether the published facts are correct. In “Yale, Slavery and Abolition,” Antony Dugdale, J.J. Fueser and J. Celso de Castro Alves described the relationship of several prominent Yale graduates and past administrators with slavery in America. The 60-page essay includes claims that 10 of the 12 residential colleges were named after slave owners or men who supported slavery. Samuel Morse, according to the essay, was a slavery supporter who believed that “abolitionists should be excommunicated.” The authors wrote that while slavery supporter John C. Calhoun was honored as the namesake of a residential college, Yale graduates who took an anti-slavery stance were not properly recognized on campus. The essay also argues that Yale prospered in the early years as a result of money earned or donated because of slavery.

In response to the essay, a group of New Haven residents called on Yale to rename the colleges that honor men who supported slavery. New Haven residents gathered at the Center Church on the Green in September to commemorate the 170th anniversary of attempts to form a black college and to draw more attention to Yale’s involvement with slavery. Clergy and community activists demanded reparations from the University based on the findings of the essay. Members of the Dwight Hall organization, named for the slaveholder Timothy Dwight, discussed a name change but rejected the idea, opting instead to put up a plaque saying the organization renounces the pro-slavery actions of its namesake.

But some scholars challenged the accuracy of the report, claiming that it lacks historical context. A month-long Yale Daily News investigation discovered that the report was financed, promoted and distributed with help from the Federation of Hospital and University Employees, which includes the Graduate Employees and Students Organization, or GESO, and Yale’s recognized unions, Locals 34 and 35, raising questions about the objectivity of the report.

Naples loses liquor license

In early September, state liquor agents and police raided Naples Pizza, citing the establishment for multiple instances of serving alcohol to minors and bringing an end to Thursday nights at Naples. Naples has had an extensive history with liquor agents, receiving violations in four different inspections since 1996.

In October, the Liquor Control Commission said it would suspend Naples’ liquor license for 75 days beginning in January. On top of the suspension, Naples received a fine which, if paid by Dec. 21, would have brought back Naples’ liquor license by the end of March. But when Naples owner Anthony Prifitera failed to pay the $12,500 fine, the restaurant lost its liquor license permanently. Prifitera had asked to pay the fine in three installments, but the commission denied his request and revoked his liquor license for good.

Some Yale students expressed nostalgia for Thursday nights of pizza and beer while others said Naples should be punished for continually serving alcohol to minors. The revocation of Naples’ liquor license sparked campus discussion about the drinking age, safe places to drink, and the loss of a tradition.

Levin proposes admissions reform

On Dec. 12, Yale President Richard Levin told The New York Times that he opposes early decision programs, initiating a national debate among high school and college administrators. Levin raised concerns of whether students are ready to commit to a college early in their senior year, the potential for early decision programs to favor students not in need of aid, and the stress that early decision can add to the life of a high school senior. Levin offered less drastic alternatives to eliminating early decision, such as a non-binding early action policy or limiting the number of students accepted early. He said, though, that he thought Yale would be at a disadvantage if it were the only Ivy League school to reform its policy.

Admissions directors from other Ivy League schools had mixed reactions to Levin’s proposals. Karl Furstenberg, director of admissions at Dartmouth College, expressed dissatisfaction with the idea of schools making a pact and said Dartmouth discussed its policies and would continue with its binding early decision program. Harvard University already had a non-binding early action program and Marlyn McGrath Lewis, director of undergraduate admissions at Harvard, said binding early decision programs are “unethical and counterproductive educationally.” Doris Davis, the associate provost of admissions and enrollment at Cornell University, wrote in an e-mail that Cornell will not change its early decision policy.

Levin said Yale will not change its early decision policy for the upcoming year but he will continue trying to reach an agreement with other Ivy League schools about early admissions reform. In the spring, Levin met with a Justice Department official in Washington, D.C. to discuss whether an Ivy League pact to reform admissions policies would constitute a violation of antitrust law. In response to Levin’s proposed changes, the Yale College Council passed a resolution advocating a switch to an early application program that would allow students to apply early to one college but not commit to attending it. The YCC encouraged Levin to work with other selective colleges to change their early admissions programs and the resolution said Levin should call for the formation of a committee of college representatives to debate the issue at or before this summer’s Ivy Presidents’ Meeting.

Berkeley Divinity School dean resigns amidst controversy

Berkeley Divinity School Dean R. William Franklin resigned his position as head of the Episcopal seminary affiliated with the Yale Divinity School in mid-December after the Hartford Courant reported that a Yale-initiated audit showed misappropriation of funds.

Last summer, Yale officials called for an audit of the Berkeley funds, and the audit then revealed practices that were not in line with University policies. The Hartford Courant outlined the alleged misappropriation by Franklin, citing the confidential audit. The Courant said the audit showed that Franklin had mismanaged tens of thousands of dollars, using some of the funds to pay for his daughter’s Harvard Medical School education and personal expenses, including a trip to Colorado and dry cleaning.

Christian R. Sonne, the chairman of Berkeley’s board of trustees, told the Yale Daily News in late January that he had approved Franklin’s request for a $10,000 tuition payment and was unaware that such a payment violated University policy.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal launched an investigation into Berkeley’s use of charitable funds.

The controversy unfolded as the affiliation agreement between Yale and Berkeley was up for reaffiliation. A reaffiliation agreement was signed Mar. 6. While most of the terms of the contract remained the same, the new agreement states more emphatically that all financial transactions must go through Yale systems.

The Rev. Frederick Borsch, a trustee of Princeton University and a retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, is serving as Berkeley’s interim dean while the search for a permanent dean ensues. Franklin, who was also an associate dean at Yale Divinity School, is now employed by the Episcopal Diocese in New York City.

Lasaga pleads guilty

Despite pleas from his family and fellow scientists, former Saybrook College Master Antonio C. Lasaga was sentenced in state court on Feb. 15 to 20 years in prison for molesting a New Haven boy he was mentoring. The majority of Lasaga’s state sentence will run concurrently with the federal sentence of15 years he received for possession and receipt of child pornography.

The former Saybrook College master did not speak during the hearings, but Lasaga’s ex-wife and son described his warmth and compassion as a father, and his colleagues pointed out his exceptional scientific contributions.

Ultimately Superior Court Judge Roland D. Fasano seemed to side with state prosecutor David Strollo, who compared Lasaga to “the devil incarnate” and cast him as a cold, calculating rapist.

The 52-year-old ex-Yale geochemist pleaded guilty more than two years ago to charges of possessing and receiving child pornography, including nearly 150,000 digital images he downloaded through a Yale server. Prosecutors said some of these images, in addition to videos Lasaga produced, included a New Haven boy the former professor met through a school mentoring program.

The family of the boy now also has the right to search for $3 million worth of Lasaga’s assets. This finding, which came as a pre-judgment remedy imposed against Lasaga March 1 in civil court, marks the beginning of a lawsuit initiated by the boy’s family against the former Yale professor.

In January, Lasaga pleaded no contest to six state felonies related to his abuse of the boy, including two counts of first-degree sexual assault.

Tensions ride high at graduate student unionization forum

While the negotiations between Yale and Locals 34 and 35 garnered much of the labor spotlight this year, the Graduate Employees and Students Organization continued their 12-year quest for recognition.

This year, the movement culminated with a tension-ridden forum on Feb. 27. Sponsored by the Graduate Student Assembly, the graduate school’s student government, the meeting provided an open forum for administrators, professors, union leaders and graduate students to discuss graduate student unionization.

The forum featured three panelists on each side of the graduate student unionization debate. Local 35 President Bob Proto, American studies professor Michael Denning, and GESO chairwoman Anita Seth GRD ’05 spoke in favor of unionization, while Graduate School Dean Susan Hockfield, Political Science chairman Ian Shapiro and Colleen Shogan GRD ’03, a member of anti-GESO group GASO, spoke against unionization.

Seth, Proto and Denning all emphasized the importance of union solidarity and democratic decision-making, while Hockfield and Shapiro emphasized the importance of Yale’s role as an academic institution whose primary concern is to maintain the Graduate School’s excellence and provide the best possible academic experience for its students.

Just two months after this contentious meeting, GESO announced that it had received signed union cards from a majority of the graduate student population. With that majority, GESO sent a letter to Levin asking him to sit down and discuss unionization with GESO leaders. GESO organizers sent the letter to Levin just one day before participating in a major union rally, which also included Locals 34 and 35 as well as hospital workers seeking to form a union.

(accompanying timeline)