Sorry we’re not the gentry

I’d like to offer deep gratitude to Alex Fisher for his “Defense of Gentrification” (Jan. 27), the snobbery and callousness of which gives us in the anticapitalist movement useful fuel for our fires in these cold winter months. The camp at Occupy New Haven has felt somewhat dejected lately and has difficulty precisely locating the enemy, as it can be awfully tough in a time of neoliberal “human rights” capitalism and “compassionate conservatism” to get ourselves excited for the class struggle. Thank God for caricatured aristocrats like Fisher, here to remind non-Yale residents of New Haven that they are part of a parasitic criminal “lingering fungus” that must be excised and replaced with fine boutiques. It’s healthy to remember that the 1% are not, in fact, just like us but with more money, but that instead they represent the “upmarket and civilized” while we wallow in “crime and squalor.” If only more Yale bluebloods could be as open in their seething contempt for the poor.

With glittering sincerity,

Nathan J. Robinson

Jan. 29

The writer is a student at the Yale Law School.

English seeks to expand offerings

In his thoughtful piece last Friday (“For More Open Courses,” Jan. 27), Jasjit Singh describes his frustration at failing to secure a space at the beginning of the term in English 120, a course designed for freshmen and sophomores, on Reading and Writing the Modern Essay. Singh, a senior who is not an English major, was absolutely right to want to enroll in this splendid course, which, as he notes, is one of the most demanding, as well as popular, courses in Yale College.

Singh seems to suggest that we give priority to underclassmen in allotting the spaces for English 120. But that is not the case. Although English 120 is a course designed for freshmen and sophomores, the randomizing computer program that slots applicants into sections just before the term begins doesn’t give preference to any students. I encouraged Singh at the beginning of the month to persist in his shopping of 120 until the end of the Course Selection Period (spaces really do open up in the second week of classes), but, as he told me, he quit shopping sections of 120 after the first week.

What Singh’s opinion piece impresses on me is the ongoing importance of expanding this challenging and exciting course to accommodate more of the students eager to take it. The long-standing 120 Course Director, Fred Strebeigh, has already overseen a significant annual increase in the number of sections we offer, an undertaking that has had the remarkable (and wonderful) effect not of fulfilling but intensifying the student interest in the course. Strebeigh and I are already at work to make certain that the English Department offers even more sections of 120 in both semesters of the next academic year.

John Rogers

Jan. 27

The writer is the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the English Department.