Freshmen arrive on campus today after a summer of disheartening headlines about their new school. A member of the Yale Corporation resigned after a plagiarism scandal; the president of Yale-NUS announced that the new college will restrict political student groups on campus.
Those issues are worth our attention. But the Yale that appears every so often in national headlines is not the Yale that will be overrun today with freshmen, their families and the eager upperclassmen helping to carry boxes up Old Campus stairs. This Yale is a community, not just a famous name.
It’s a community freshmen will enter today and shape each day of the next four years. As they begin their lives as Yalies, the University should be teaching them to explore and to discover how to take care of themselves and each other. Instead, freshmen are going to hear a lot of rules and warnings, including the newly announced requirement that off-campus parties be registered with the Yale College Dean’s Office.
Rather than diving into Yale with abandon — and potentially overstepping and then recoiling — they will memorize procedures for registering fun. Mother Yale has taken it upon herself to watch over undergraduates more and more in recent years. Though some changes, like the new system for reporting sexual assault, should be celebrated, Yale is generally sending the wrong message to students learning to be independent adults. Yalies should learn to govern their own lives rather than relying on — or hiding from — a watchful authority.
Despite administrative hurdles, freshmen will walk onto Old Campus today bearing the curiosity and energy that feed Yale. Freshmen, Yale may feel new and intimidating and impenetrable, but you should know that by simple virtue of being here, you have become Yale’s lifeblood.
It may not feel like it yet, but this place is yours as much as it is anyone else’s. Your task is to decide what that means.
For those of you who are new on campus, we are the Yale Daily News, and we will work hard to inform you, entertain you and help you do that deciding. Let us know when we fail to do that. For now, we’ll give you a start: Yale is not Yale-NUS, it’s not party regulations and it’s not what you see in national headlines. Start in your suite. Look around; see what’s happening.
Remember that it’s the people here who make this place special, that this is the place where the late Marina Keegan ’12 found the opposite of loneliness. “It’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together,” she wrote in the News shortly before her death this summer. “Who are on your team. When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it’s four a.m. and no one goes to bed. That night with the guitar. That night we can’t remember. That time we did, we went, we saw, we laughed, we felt.”