There are many reasons to dislike Richard Levin: his administration’s low regard for athletics and his efforts to associate Yale’s name with repressive, authoritarian regimes like Singapore’s spring to mind. But the details of his salary are not one of them. Walking by the Undergraduate Organizing Committee’s protest outside of Woodbridge Hall a few days ago, I couldn’t help but feel dismayed by yet another example of Yale students crying injustice over a less-than-harsh reality of life.
As a student who receives a considerable amount of financial aid, I, too, have felt the pressure to earn more money this year. I will be taking on more hours for the two on-campus jobs I work, while juggling work and track practice. But although I was disappointed to learn of the additional $400 dollars I would have to pay, it quickly occurred to me that this was simply proof that, even at Yale, we are not exempt from the effects of the financial crisis. It also occurred to me that, instead of being at Yale, I could be at another school with far less financial aid or worse, none at all.
To protest Levin’s bonus is to miss the point. As the president of a corporation, he is entitled to the benefits of his office. And, despite my own disagreement with some of his policies, no one could deny the fact that his tenure as President of the University has been an overwhelmingly positive one, for both Yale and New Haven. Heck, he probably deserves the money.
As the raid at Elevate last weekend has shown, we cannot, as Yale students, expect our status as members of this University to exempt us from the difficulties of the world around us. Just beyond our college walls, the struggle to meet the financial demands of a depressed economy is huge enough to make an extra $400 seem like pocket change.
So instead of spending our hard-earned money on Perrier, hors d’oeuvres and a string ensemble for a mock-celebration of President Levin’s bonus, like the UOC did, we ought to be thankful for the privilege of attending Yale — and for the blessing that our own problems are probably far smaller than they could be.
The writer is a senior in Branford College