The summer firearms of David Light … the autumn escapades of Casper Desfeux … the spring press releases of Aliza Shvarts.
When it came to news, Yale’s 2007-2008 school year, no doubt, saw more than its fair share of scandal. But in the muck of reading week and finals, it may be too easy to think back on 2007-2008 and only recall such moments of tomfoolery or explosive national controversy.
Fair enough: Such is the province of college and, apparently, of ol’ Eli lately.
But a retrospective skewed toward the bombshells reprinted on blogs and aired on Fox News offers, at best, an incomplete understanding of a university in transition. At worst, it is misleading.
A more complete rerun of 2007-2008 paints a different picture — one of a changing Yale but also a Yale forced finally to confront deep-seated weaknesses: its ostensibly fractured community, its share of lackluster policies and programs.
However, it is not enough to simply live through two semesters of vigils, panels, lawsuits, center-stage University involvement in an international dispute with Peru or the start of a multi-million-dollar, two-college expansion of Yale College.
What’s needed now — and what will be needed still next year — is follow-through. At this point in April, after all, not all that much has been resolved.
A 2008-2009 to-do list may be in order — already:
For one, Yalies are still awaiting word on the so-called “hate protocol” that Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry is spearheading at the urging of students. The cowardly students or residents who wreaked campuswide havoc with anonymous graffiti and swastikas are still unidentified. The Women’s Center’s promised lawsuit remains unfiled. Administrative support for the Woodward Report has been put to the test — with still-ambiguous results.
But these examples are symptoms of a larger problem: After surviving a year during which the strength of its community was tested repeatedly, Yale remains as fractured as ever — by heritage, by color, by athletic status, by gender, by country of origin, by organizational affiliation.
On an administrative level, loose ends untied are no less apparent. The College is about to see its largest expansion in years. By no fault of officials who are not yet ready to make such decisions, myriad questions remain unresolved: the extent to which students will have a role in the planning; the architecture; the names; the budget. So add that, too, to the list. And don’t leave out decisions still to be made on the future of early action — or agreements yet to be made with the Peruvian government, two years after the initial threats of a lawsuit.
The trend, interestingly, continues beyond the Yale bubble into the sprawling streets of New Haven, where the future of the city’s democracy seems suspended mid-air. Will Mayor John DeStefano Jr. carry out his term or seek a post in a Democratic presidency? Will the city receive its desired state PILOT funding? Will the Yale-New Haven Hospital ever reach an end to its union-administration showdown? Will students return in the fall to a revamped New Haven Police Department, or will it still reek of corruption at the highest levels?
On any of the aforementioned matters, our community faces two options: follow-through — make the next school year an extraordinary one — or maintain the status quo. It is the latter possibility, utter complacency, that we should fear most, but that is likely only if, upon returning, we forget what began in 2007-2008.
So rest up this summer, Yalies; hard work awaits in the fall. Just try not to discharge any illegal firearms while you’re at it.