A new initiative by former Yale College Council President Danny Avraham ’15 will likely make the senior society system a little less exclusive.
In an email to all Yale College students Tuesday evening, Avraham announced that he and a group of friends would be undertaking a project to establish as many societies as necessary to accommodate all members of the senior class who wish to join a society. The email also included a larger indictment of the current society process, describing it as non-meritocratic and overly stressful. Based on junior demand, new societies would be created and eventually funded by private donors, Avraham wrote in the email.
“I think societies have had a very negative impact on the well-being of many students, both on those who ended up in societies and were very concerned during the interview and tap process and of course on those who didn’t and wanted to be in them,” Avraham said in an email to the News. “What I hope this initiative will do in the future is remove one layer of uncertainty from the process — if you want the experience you can have it.”
Avraham said he started working on the proposal this past weekend after conversations with juniors who were not pre-tapped prompted him to think of a mechanism to bring them together. The new societies, he said, would be funded by donors with strong connections to Yale who have requested to remain private at this point. Avraham said a fund has already been established to finance new societies.
YCC Vice President Maia Eliscovich Sigal ’16 said Avraham told her about the plan last weekend, and she thinks it is a good way to make the society system available to everyone. Some students interviewed expressed the same sentiments.
“Everything at Yale is already exclusive enough,” Gabrielle Fong ’16 said. “We made it here.”
Javier Cienfuegos ’15 said that with the creation of new societies, the bigger societies could continue to be just as competitive, with smaller ones opening up access for everyone.
However, other students have criticized the proposal for perpetuating the exclusivity already created by the society system and for failing to address a larger issue that students are too concerned with the prestige of societies.
“[The initiative] is still perpetuating another generation of insecure Yalies who don’t need to be insecure,” Karin Shedd ’16 said. “At some point, Yalies are going to have to deal with disappointment of not being chosen for something.”
Emmy Reinwald ’17 said seniors who were interested in meeting on Thursday and Sunday night could have easily done so without having the formal title of a society, and that creating more to accommodate people who were not tapped gives off the impression that people only join societies for prestige.
However, Fong said the society format has a unique ability to bring new people together in a way that a more casual get-together cannot.
Laurel German ’15 said that while she thought the proposal was a fine idea, she thought the money used to establish new societies would have been better spent reducing the financial barriers to entry for the existing ones.
Ultimately, several students remained concerned with the stressful junior pre-tap season, adding that the evaluative nature of the process creates a lot of additional anxiety.
“I think that it’s been completely exhausting, and it’s been hard to be at a place where you’re feeling judged,” Eliscovich Sigal said. “There will still be the stress of which society you’ll get into, but I think that having the security that you will have that experience is amazing, and it’s a great idea.”