College system at Yale works much better for diversity than elsewhere

To the Editor:

It’s interesting to read all of the opinions in the “self-segregation” dialogue that students at Yale are having right now. I think it’s important to remember that to an extent, everyone tends to gravitate toward people they identify with. While the black students may generally not sit with white lacrosse players in Commons, white lacrosse players also generally don’t sit with the white Dramat members in Commons. Everyone who has been through the society system knows the phenomenon of meeting seniors that you may have never seen in your three prior years at Yale because you were in different “cliques” (and these seniors often end up being some of your closest friends). While race is the most visibly distinct way by which people identify themselves, a number of other groups also tend to separate themselves from each other at Yale, an incredibly diverse school where no “group” has a monopoly on school culture.

The question is how much should Yale College accept or try to overcome this tendency to cluster. This is where the residential college system comes in. As Dara Lind wrote in her editorial (“Groups are all about choice — unlike colleges,” 2/13), you can easily define your own community within Yale by participating in various groups or moving off campus. What the college system does is throw everyone in the same living space and allow for cross-group interaction to occur in a meaningful way. Some of my best memories from Yale arose from the random room and college assignments we all lived through freshman year.

Consider the alternatives. When I visited MIT while deciding where to go to college, I, along with all other black males, was housed overnight in Chocolate City, MIT’s officially recognized, black-themed living section within one of the dorms. In addition, new freshmen at MIT had to “rush” dorms, all with different reputations, the day they arrived on campus. This, along with themed (race-based and otherwise) housing, has caused all sorts of controversy at MIT and other colleges. Every diverse college in the country deals with these issues. I have found that at Yale, the discussion is less divisive and people have more cross-group friendships and interaction than at our peer colleges. In my opinion, this is mainly because of our residential college system. This is one of the unique aspects of Yale that should be preserved in the future.

Anthony Powell ’05

Feb. 13

The writer was in Berkeley College and lives in New York City.

Tenure recommendations will help grad students as well as undergrads

To the Editor:

I write to express my overall agreement with your staff editorial of Feb. 6 (“Tenure recommendations are on target”).

I was particularly excited to see that you drew the connection between undergraduate and graduate interests. As a teaching fellow and an organizer for GESO, I imagine the work I do in and out of the classroom to be aimed at building both education and community for the benefit of all of Yale.

The Tenure Review Committee’s recommendations demonstrate an all-too-rare commitment to sharing power with and increasing investment in the academics who do the bulk of Yale’s work. More can be done: My own department — which has more junior faculty than senior, and in which lectors teach nearly all Chinese, Japanese and Korean language courses — is indicative of the overall stratification at this university. Will the administration continue what the Tenure Committee’s recommendations have started and create an environment in which all students, teachers and researchers at Yale have a reasonable guarantee of financial security and respect for our work? I hope that pushing the administration for more along these lines can, as you suggest in your editorial, belie any divisions among us and give the entire Yale community reason to work together.

Lucas Klein GRD ’09

Feb. 12

The writer is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures.