Deniz Saip

On Wednesday, graduate students met with administrators to discuss issues of racism, inclusivity and diversity. Hours later, the Graduate Employees and Students Organization and Next Yale, a fledgling student group focused on addressing issues of race at Yale, held a teach-in on how the endowment could be used to address those issues, demonstrating that the controversies of the past few weeks are not unique to Yale College.

The teach-in brought around 400 people to Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall to hear New York Times columnist Victor Fleischer discuss the purpose of university endowments. After he spoke, students and Yale employees called for the University to spend a greater portion of its $25.6 billion endowment on increasing campus diversity in all areas, from mental health resources to faculty hiring. Roughly half the crowd then rose and marched to Cross Campus. The event came two weeks after the University announced a $50 million initiative to diversify its faculty over the next five years and the day after University President Peter Salovey announced a slew of University-wide changes to improve diversity and inclusion on campus.

“We gather today to learn about how Yale’s investment and spending policies affect our campus, our city and beyond,” GESO supporter Charles Decker GRD ’17 said at the teach-in.

The teach-in followed a nearly two-hour long meeting between graduate students and Graduate School Dean Lynn Cooley. Graduate students at the meeting criticized the graduate school administration’s lack of transparency in faculty hiring and promotion practices. At the meeting, Debayan Gupta GRD ’17 said many graduate students see Salovey’s Tuesday email as “damage control” after recent student protests and demonstrations called on the administration to make Yale more inclusive to underrepresented groups.

Gupta voiced concerns that many other graduate students echoed in the meeting, stating that retention among minority faculty is a problem at Yale because many people of color do not feel fully welcome on campus. Specifically, Gupta criticized Yale for maintaining the size of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at 700 members, arguing that this seemingly arbitrary figure limits the number of faculty of color who can be hired.

“The idea that we need to keep our faculty levels at 700 is something most of us disagree with on a very basic level,” said Gupta. “If you’re forced to hire a lot of people to look after the diversity issue, you have a systemic problem.”

Cooley was joined at the meeting by University Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews and Michelle Nearon, assistant dean and director of the Office for Diversity and Equal Opportunity in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

At the meeting, graduate students repeatedly asked about Yale’s guidelines for awarding tenure, alleged discrepancies in promotions along gender and racial lines and the four new faculty positions Salovey pledged to create in the FAS in his Tuesday email.

Goff-Crews said while the University is already addressing the issue of faculty diversity, she does not think Yale is as inclusive as it could be. In response to concerns regarding the tenure process, Goff-Crews conceded that Yale needs to be more transparent.

“We’re here to listen mostly today. We all recognize that Yale needs to be a better place for inclusion,” Cooley said. “These are real commitments, these are huge investments. These are heartfelt plans.”

Half an hour later, graduate students at the teach-in again called on Yale to be more inclusive. The teach-in marks another collaboration between GESO and an undergraduate activist group. Students Unite Now, whose major focus has been for Yale to eliminate the student income contribution, also participated in the discussion in SSS.

In his August op-ed in The New York Times, Fleischer wrote that the $480 million paid to Yale’s endowment managers is an example of an elite university “hoarding money.” At the teach-in, Fleischer said endowment managers are only concerned with increasing the endowment, not with how the endowment is spent.

“Endowments should be used to advance human capital and not the building of financial capital,” Fleischer said. “You should measure the success of the endowment in how the money is spent and what it’s used for.”

After Fleischer’s talk, graduate students, undergraduates from SUN and Next Yale and New Haven elected officials, including two alders, discussed issues ranging from financial aid to unemployment in the city.

Next Yale organizer Cathleen Calderón ’17 said despite Salovey’s Tuesday email, questions remain about whether more faculty of color will be hired to support the influx of students caused by the two new residential colleges.

Beaver Hills Alder Jill Marks, who is also an organizer for the labor advocacy group New Haven Rising, demanded that Yale offer more jobs to New Haven residents.

“Yale has the money. We want Yale to solve our job crisis,” Marks said.

Local 35 organizer Brian Wingate, who also serves Beaver Hills as an alder, said he stands in solidarity with Next Yale, GESO and Local 34 in trying to make Yale more inclusive for students, teachers and employees.

At the end of the teach-in, Next Yale organizers read out the same list of demands they read to Salovey at a midnight march to his home Thursday night. The event ended with a march to Cross Campus, where protesters wrote suggestions for how the University could spend the endowment.

“Pay graduate students a living wage,” read one note. “Hire black poets,” read another.

In the fall of 2014, there were 462 tenured faculty in the FAS.

  • dcheretic

    I’m surprised that it took GESO this long to attach itself to the recent controversies. GESO is a highly opportunistic organization and, like some of the protesters, engages in threats and intimidation to try to achieve its goals.

    Alum 1995

  • Tim Steele

    “In his August op-ed in The New York Times, Fleischer wrote that the $480
    million paid to Yale’s endowment managers is an example of an elite
    university “hoarding money.” At the teach-in, Fleischer said endowment
    managers are only concerned with increasing the endowment, not with how
    the endowment is spent.”

    Sorry Fleischer, if you’re suggesting that David Swensen doesn’t care how the endowment is spent, you couldn’t be more wrong. Do you know anything about the man? And as for the $480mn figure cited, by any reasonable measure Yale’s managers make a lot less than they would make in the private sector working for an investment firm and we have a system known as capitalism in this country, whether you like it or not.

    • yalie

      I believe the $480m cited refers to management fees paid to Yale’s selected managers, who are not direct employees of the university and in fact *are* typically in the private sector. As several have noted, those fees are normal for these sorts of investment.

    • carl

      Apples and oranges.

      The $480 million number is not what is paid to the staff of the Yale Investments Office.

      As you can see from this passage, from Fleischer’s NYT editorial in August, the $480 million number relates to what Yale pays outside managers:

      “Last year, Yale paid about $480 million to private equity fund managers as compensation — about $137 million in annual management fees, and another $343 million in performance fees, also known as carried interest — to manage about $8 billion, one-third of Yale’s endowment. In contrast, of the $1 billion the endowment contributed to the university’s operating budget, only $170 million was earmarked for tuition assistance, fellowships and prizes.”

      There are 2 things going on here. The annual fees would be imposed, in one measure or another, every year. The “performance fees” depend on an outside manager’s performance and–as I assume is the case with a sophisticated investor such as the YIO–should be relative to market benchmarks. That way an outside manager is not over-rewarded for performing the same as the market did as a whole.

      I don’t deny that the taxation of carried interest is a scandal. And Fleischer’s numbers are striking. But the issue is more complex.

      Is Yale doing what it can to negotiate management fees down? If yes, then what is Yale supposed to do about the prices that good asset managers can command?

      Should Yale consign its endowment to the managers who cannot command such substantial fees? In the long run, would that help Yale or hurt Yale?

  • dzmlsience

    The students don’t even know the endowment managers are focused only on investments and not university spending? That’s so basic. At least they are operating in plain daylight when they make a play for the money. The comment about the university “hoarding” money is priceless.

    Can we get a definition for “inclusion”? I don’t think the multiculti students and leftist academic bureaucrats use it in the sense you would find in the dictionary. It seems to be an amorphous term whose purpose is to create an endless source of grievance and entitlement.

  • breakingbad23

    The shakedown continues.

  • ShadrachSmith

    Dear Social Justice Warriors,

    Each SJW demand for instant and total submission should be evaluated in light of the American constitution and applicable laws and customs, if you don’t mind.

    The Warriors are going all Marxist by insisting that American constitutional requirements of equal treatment under the law and due process for individuals have no power over SJW’s activities, because those don’t matter any more. Marx said exactly the same thing: and Marx was wrong about that too.

    I love you, but if Madison got it right in Fed#10, you are arguing for tyranny against liberty. Can we talk about that?

  • CaptainJackAubrey

    The fees paid to fund managers seem gigantic, but they represent only a small percentage of the Endowment itself and as such are in line with industry standards. If these managers outperform the market–and they certainly seem to do so, year after year–then the net result is a greater gain in the Endowment’s value. Would it make more sense to pay managers much less and consequently see the Endowment gains tumble? Why would that be better?

    • dzmlsience

      Stop making sense. We’re talking about the 1% here. Emotion, jealousy in particular, is the coin of the realm.

    • Ece FNW

      It didn’t really come across in this article, but my understanding is that Fleischer’s argument isn’t necessarily that Yale should pay its fund managers less: Yale gets its money’s worth, he says, but schools with smaller endowments don’t, though they try to keep up with the trend toward expensive endowment management strategies. Instead, he argues that fund management has only incentives to be maximally conservative with spending. But if the university’s mission is something other than the mission of a hedge fund, it has to manage its money in a way that reflect that. And that means spending a little bit more, and growing the endowment a little less aggressively.

  • 100wattlightbulb

    THIS is why the “phenomenon” is not exclusive to Yale:

    “Frankly, I believe that this is mass hysteria generated by the Ferguson incident and the Black Lives Matter cabal,” said Bishop E.W. Jackson Sr., president of StandAmerica, which is “non-profit organization that reaches across racial and cultural lines to bring people together around the foundational principles that made America great.

    Recently, STAND led a campaign to have a bust of Planned Parenthood founder and eugenicist Margaret Sanger removed from the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

    “It is very unlikely that with a black President and black Attorney General enforcing civil rights laws, that suddenly racism on campus is rising,” he said.

    The movement to stir up racial tension has OTHER motives, he said.

  • aaleli

    Van Jones, Soros, funding BLM sure have been busy…..

    “Princeton joins schools race row as protesters demand cultural space just for black students and that Woodrow Wilson’s name is REMOVED from college and International Affairs school”.

  • aaleli

    Read a really interesting study on groupthink. A version of Asch’s study at Emory. Quite disturbing actually.
    People are not pressured into going along – there is actually a transformation that takes place chemically, in the brain, that alters their reality, as was documented with fMRI scanner.
    I think this is rampant among liberals and colleges campuses- alter reality groupthink. It’s really the ONLY explanation for this insanity.

  • Nancy Morris

    Translation: “Give me more of your money.”

  • http://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/lists/the-10-worst-ways-to-die-in-a-hieronymous-bosch-painting-53872 Hieronymus Machine

    “’Yale has the money. We want Yale to solve [New Haven’s] job crisis,’” Marks

    Go make your own. No, really. Do a startup, then grow it. HigherOne, anyone?

    Did you miss the tour? http://newhavenstartuptour.com/

    As for “Pay graduate students a living wage”: they make ~25 bucks/hour… ‘snot enuff? (‘smore’n they’re worth, though–and they know it.)

    Here’s an idea: Yale could end GSAS tuition waivers and divert those monies to some consensus project. That is, GSAS students could pay for their classes (at least the first two years) just like Yale’s professional (versus its… amateur?) schools. Better yet, why don’t GSAS folk *volunteer*, say, even HALF the tuition they’ve saved toward some collective works project, e.g., hiring poets? (“But, but, but.. that’s MY money!”)

    Talk about biting the hand that feeds you…

  • td2016

    This is tendentious, over-extended coverage of an uninteresting special interest money grab by people with not much to contribute. Fleischer is just some hack writer from the New York Times repeating his simplistic personal musings. Why listen to him? He knows nothing special, but he’s presented here as a kind of oracle. If Yale were to take leave of its senses and follow his “spend it all” advice (for which there is no accountability), would Fleischer write a giant personal check to Yale to tide it over the next time the heavings of the financial markets send the endowment down 30% or more, as happened in 2008? Maybe I missed that part of his talk. Or maybe Mr Fleischer has some magic pixie dust that wards off dramatic financial reversals? Does Mr Fleischer care to address the fact that in 2008 Harvard came close to insolvency because it had hired too many people and otherwise stretched its resources on the assumption that the pre-2008 good times would continue to roll indefinitely, just as Fleischer is now in substance urging? What a clown.

    With its almost inconceivably narrow minded, short sighted perspective, this article is – and should be considered by the YDN to be – an embarrassment to the YDN as well as the people who mounted this “event.” Those people come across as bearing all the wisdom and dignity of new hatchlings cheeping with open beaks to urge mama-bird to drop in some nice juicy bugs.

    More generally, is anyone at the YDN actually in touch with the real world? As far as I can determine, there has not been a single YDN article regarding the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and the ensuing, general, sense of fear and gloom that has descended on Europe or the upheavals into which those events have hurled the immigration and national security debates in this country (including but not limited to the context of the presidential campaign). There hasn’t even been an interview with a single one of the many spectacular Yale faculty who certainly have much light to shed on those events. Those events are ALREADY having and will have huge impacts on the world as a whole, on Yale and on everything in between. The YDN can’t be bothered with any of that! There’s no time to send out a reporter. But somehow it’s important to the YDN to squander resources and space to relate what some myopic graduate student with no reported qualifications beyond personal appetites and inclinations thinks the size of the Yale research faculty should be. Who cares?

    Earth to YDN: Collect call … for you.

    • http://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/lists/the-10-worst-ways-to-die-in-a-hieronymous-bosch-painting-53872 Hieronymus Machine

      On a related, “real world” matter: The YDN makes it seem as if Yale is all shrieking, all the time, but this university remains replete with real scholars pursuing real research in real disciplines. I feel bad for the undergrad science students and pre-meds, for CS and mathematics majors just trying to get their work done, afraid to be called out for not joining the latest flash protest/march/walk/chalk/dialectic…

      “Dude, I’m just try’na finish my problem set, OKAY?”

      More point/counterpoint (or, heck, “rational discourse”) would be a plus, although “real” counterpoint is increasingly rare here.

    • carl

      To follow up on your point, Fleischer conceded in his NYT article that “In 1990, Yale’s endowment was worth about $3 billion. If my suggested spending rule had been in place, it would be worth about $10 billion today, instead of $24 billion.”

      So let’s do the math.

      The Fleischer Endowment this year would generate $800M for Yale. (That’s 8 percent–his spending rule–of $10 billion.)

      Fortunately for Yale, the actual Yale Endowment this year will generate more than $1 billion for Yale. (Five percent of $24 billion is $1.2 billion.)

      That’s a Fleischer-budget gap of $200 million per year. The gap would only increase, as time goes by.

      The less Yale spends this year, the more it will have to spend next year and 100 years from now. Are today’s Yalies really worth that much more than tomorrow’s?

      This group calls itself Next Yale. A more accurate moniker, based on its position in the endowment debate, might be More Yale Now, Less Yale Later.

    • dzmlsience

      That’s pure gold, td2016. The gimme-gimme millennials at Yale are actually annoyed by all of the “unwarranted” attention being directed at ISIS, US foreign policy failures, the presidential debates, et al. It’s taking the spotlight off of the racism, bigotry and lack of inclusion at Yale. YDN is a microcosm of the media problems in this country. Self-important, morally vain dilettantes are attracted to media jobs (and politics and academia). The productive elements of campus go off to productive endeavors that serve their fellow man.

  • marcedward

    “Pay graduate students a living wage,” read one note. “Hire black poets,” read another

    1) Graduate students are a dime a dozen. If the current ones don’t like the pay, they can find another college that pays more.
    2) Poets work for free, you can get all the bad poetry you want online for nothing.

  • rufus

    GESO has been around since I was at Yale in the late 80s/early 90s. It’s always been a good stalking-horse for Locals 34 and 35. I wonder how many of the GESO members back then are now tenured faculty members of a university, and how many have left academia? I wonder how many of today’s GESO members will spend their time at Yale writing academic works that will get them the position they want, and how many will spend their time protesting?

  • disqus_wl9hiGHJp9

    Reputation tarnished. Obviously not a place for the best and brightest

  • Earl Gray

    If Yale grows its endowment at 17%, then from the money necessary to cover one student’s SIC, it could pay for five students’ SICs in a decade (investing merely the money that a single student paid, not even the other four students’ payments or the money from the intervening years).
    Even if we presume the University should pay students’ SICs, should it not go into effect in 10 years, or 20? Dare you say now? Respectfully, that would epitomize selfishness.
    Let us be compassionate. How could you dare stand with a high head, demanding a little comfort for me and you (or likely, only you; how many of you in Next Yale are off financial aid yourselves, advocating without personal benefit?) at the cost of the $2.1 million – that is, 9 current 4-year scholarships – it could grow to in forty years?
    Yale uses money better than any other party; it beats interest rates, it beats the market, and if it followed its academic purpose, it’d advance social good.