Yale President Richard Levin, revealing a more personal side of himself to students Tuesday, said at a Silliman College Master’s Tea that he is “both sleep-deprived and disappointed.”
Levin’s sentiments did not stem from labor tensions or the economic recession; instead, he was talking about baseball. His favorite team, the San Francisco Giants, had just lost the World Series.
The loss was “truly a bummer,” Levin said.
During the Tea, which took the format of a question-and-answer session, Levin discussed a diverse set of topics, including Jane Austen novels, Yale’s early decision policy, electric trolleys, unions, and rock ‘n’ roll music.
Following a statement he made last December about eliminating early admissions from the college application process, Levin said he will be announcing early decision policy changes after Nov. 1, the deadline for early decision applications. He said this is to avoid confusing early decision applicants to the Class of 2007.
Levin said while schools like the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University are “enamored” of early decision, the policy does not necessarily suit all institutions.
“I think we need to loosen up,” he said.
Levin also discussed Yale’s investments during his talk. He spoke about the controversy surrounding Yale’s investment in a Canadian company that invested in a company from Sudan. Current sanction laws prevent American companies from making direct investments in Sudan.
“[Yale’s investment] appears to be a circumvention of U.S. policy, though not [a] deliberate [circumvention],” he said.
One student asked Levin what he thought the big student issues on campus were. In response, he cited the current academic review, which Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead is leading.
“I’m hoping the proposals will be far-reaching and exciting,” he said.
Levin said other important student issues include student office and performance spaces, as well as the residential college renovations.
Levin said jokingly that students who have seen the newly-renovated Timothy Dwight College should realize “there’s hope for Silliman.”
During the course of the Tea, Levin also revealed some of his personal passions, such as his favorite novel, Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” He said he has read the book many times, and has even read it aloud in its entirety with his wife Jane.
He said he appreciated Jane Austen novels as well.
“Thanks to Jane’s tutelage,” Levin said, “I do really like ‘Emma.'”
On the controversial rapper Eminem, Levin said the best response to distasteful speech is more speech.
“I have a problem with censorship,” Levin said.
Silliman College Master Judith Krauss said she thought the event was successful because Levin and the students respectfully discussed a number of pressing issues, such as Yale’s relationship with the unions. One student asked Levin to comment on the way Levin’s salary compares to that of a long-time dining hall worker.
“I think there were points of tension in the room, but I think that’s what the university environment is about,” Krauss said.
Rich Callan EPH ’04 said he enjoyed the Tea because it was a rare chance to speak with Levin on a more personal level.
“This was a wonderful opportunity to speak with President Levin in an intimate setting and to discuss issues with him in an informal way,” Callan said.
Krauss said she thinks the question-and-answer format worked well for the Tea.
“I think it’s a great format for interacting with the president,” Krauss said.