Yesterday was the first school day this year of poststrike Yale and the beginning of this campus’ path back to the ordinary. Of all the anxiously awaited welcome messages that came Monday morning — and there were many, in dining halls and masters’ offices and entryways around campus — perhaps the most curious came from Alex Trebek, to us. “Hello students and welcome to Yale University,” he said, smiling through his pretaped video message reposted this weekend on Yalestation.org. “You know, you and I have something in common. You’ve chosen to make Yale your home,” the tape continues “and now so have we — at least for a little while.”
And so it was that as Yale began its labored return to normalcy yesterday, “JEOPARDY!” began its unwittingly symbolic return to Yale.
As early as this summer, when rumors began circulating that the popular game show would be making its way to campus this fall, students have been helping to hype this already much-hyped production. Tryouts were set for the end of September. Shows would tape just over a week later. Someone slipped leaflets into our registration packets. The Dean Trachtenberg-Yale College Council barrage of enthusiastic e-mails seemed poised to begin. But then, before we even got to campus, the strike began instead. And then it continued — for weeks with no particular end in sight. Still, few, if anyone, thought the two pieces of news were related in any way.
That is, until last Tuesday when, before it was clear that Yale and locals 34 and 35 were nearing a settlement, the program’s producers announced that since the “JEOPARDY!” unionized crew members would not cross picket lines, they would move the “JEOPARDY!” college championship tapings to the University of Pennsylvania. All of a sudden, the “JEOPARDY!” dilemma became a case in point in supporters of both sides’ inflammatory rhetoric. Ward 1 Aldermanic candidate Dan Kruger ’04 expressed his deep regret that because of the strike, New Haven would miss out on money and jobs associated with the show, and Yale would miss out on so much positive national attention. In a show of support to the unions, a group of students planned a labor-themed version of the game show scheduled to be played on Beinecke Plaza yesterday.
But after marathon negotiations last week, the strike ended abruptly Friday when the two unions ratified contract settlements announced in City Hall the night before. Labor “JEOPARDY!” was cancelled. Kruger, Yale and New Haven leaders, and students everywhere breathed a sigh: “JEOPARDY!” is coming back; things are as they were. The e-mails began and Trebek’s videotape went back up online. A game show, of all things, has become a signal of the return of Yale as we know it. So be it — we’re just happy Yale as we know it is on the way back in.
We wish luck to all the students who will line up along Beinecke Plaza this morning for a shot at the “JEOPARDY!” college championship. And to Alex Trebek and the crew of “JEOPARDY!,” we return the welcome, finally, to Yale.