Beyond books and binders, there’s one thing almost all of us bring to campus: a plan. Whether it’s your first or last time here, there are few things that Yalies do better than setting, and striving for, a finish line. Our professors have their new lesson plans and syllabi, not to mention new research and grant proposals. Our administrators have a new year’s worth of funds to raise, and another incoming class to welcome.
And of course, we the students — across 15 schools and 12 colleges — are looking to plan and live large. Maybe your new year’s theme is academics: a broad, liberal-artsy smorgasbord, or a deep senior thesis. Maybe it’s reinvention: testing boundaries, talking politics, taking stands. Or maybe this year’s plan is to focus on friends, win IMs, drink and revive bladderball. Regardless, calendars will be filled and lunch dates scheduled and rescheduled. Freshmen will whirl in euphoric extracurricular daze. Seniors will get career advice, get interviews and get jobs (we hope).
But beyond all the planning and reinventing, we should not forget Yale’s continuities — as an institution, school and home. Summer has given us the opportunity to look upon our campus with fresh eyes, and hopefully, with optimism. So let’s stay invested in the issues that animated us last year; after all, they are powerful ones. We will soon welcome the military back to our campus with the return of ROTC. A look at our campus’ sexual culture has revealed problems that need addressing. The administration is boldly improving undergraduate sciences and investing in New Haven. But at the same time, a troubling foray into authoritarian Singapore continues. If we forget these things, we forget that Yale is more than a million individual plans and an impressive name on a diploma. It is our community, to protect, maintain and cultivate — an institution with a powerful history and a bright future. We cannot let the ongoing work of Yale be dropped and forgotten with each passing year.
For those new to campus, we’re the Yale Daily News, and we have our plans too: we’ll work hard to inform and entertain you, to cover and understand all of the above, and hopefully a bit more. And when we mess up (and we will), let us know. We won’t sleep much, and we’ll lose our summer tans really quickly. And we understand that the work of any individual Yale student, professor or administrator takes up a whole lot of time. Luckily, the work of Yale as a whole isn’t as grueling. Sometimes it just takes a dining hall conversation, a visit to the art galleries, a moment noticing and repeating something seen on Elm Street, a comment in office hours, or an article in a publication. It begins when we see and feel a Yale that exists beyond our own plans, and begin to engage with its problems and its promise.
Given this week’s festivities, we’re very lucky. The best way to feel this place as more than the sum of its parts is simply to enjoy it. Let’s not chase the next finish line just yet. Let’s have as much fun as possible. And even as Camp Yale ends, we hope that Yalies, somewhere around the corners of their plans, will find the time to improvise. There’s no script for this place; its possibilities are far too vast to paint by numbers. And that is something that will remain true, year after year.