Yale community should not tolerate ‘cowardly,’ ‘ignorant’ flag-desecration

To the Editor:

Early Tuesday morning, three Yale undergraduates set fire to an American flag hanging outside a home in Fair Haven. As an American, a Yalie and a grandson of a naval officer who died before I ever had the chance to meet him, I am outraged.

Yale makes it a point to recruit a diverse student body in the hopes that undergraduates with differing viewpoints and backgrounds will interact with one another and engage in provocative, intellectually grounded discussion and debate. By undertaking such a cowardly and offensive action, however, Hyder Akbar, Nikolaos Angelopoulos and Farhad Anklesaria elected not to start a dialogue about the current U.S. foreign or domestic policies they disagreed with, but opted instead to voice their discontent indefensibly in the middle of the night.

There is no place in our community for this type of intolerant, close-minded action. Ignoring for the moment the arson and reckless endangerment charges these three face, individuals who are unable to peacefully and intelligently engage in a discussion of their opinions do not belong at Yale. The three students’ admission that this was a “stupid thing to do” does not even begin to encapsulate the vulgarity of their actions, and in my view their path to contrition is and should be a long one. At the end of the day, the simple fact that countless American soldiers have fought and died to protect their right to burn our flag should squelch the fire in their hand. My grandfather’s life deserves that much.

William Fishel ’08

April 4

The writer is in Calhoun College.

Scene feature did not fully portray Federal Work-Study Program’s reality

To the Editor:

I read with interest the cover story from scene (“Yale students work hard for the money?” 4/6), but I believe the article does not fully flesh out the intricacies of the Yale student employment program. The article states that the “University [itself] doles out tuition reimbursement in the form of paychecks offering $10-15 for every hour spent in service,” when, in actuality, the University receives heavy payroll subsidization for students on financial aid from the state and federal governments under the Federal Work-Study Program. The 2006 Peterson’s Guide to College Money reports that Yale received $2,197,962 in all work-study subsidization last year, and it is this money that incentivizes the hiring of students to perform jobs that the University might otherwise give to outside workers. The federal program defrays up to 75 percent of the pay for a student on financial aid, and the Web site of the Yale Student Employment Office says employers are reimbursed at a rate of 50 percent. Even at a federal subsidization rate of 50 percent, the highest paying financial aid jobs (for which the University pays $12.90 per hour) would effectively cost the University only $6.45 per hour, an exceedingly skimpy rate if you’re trying to compete in the real job market. In a 2000 interview with the Yale Herald, Director of Student Financial Services Caesar Storlazzi admitted that “if the students didn’t do the work, we’d have to hire other people who would cost more to employ.” Yet when Storlazzi was asked about the program by the News, he emphatically identified the program’s purpose as “money for students!” The University isn’t quite as beneficent as it might seem. Money for students, cheap labor for Yale.

Andrew Williamson ’09

April 6

The writer is in Ezra Stiles College.