Last weekend, University President Peter Salovey said the names of the two new residential colleges, as well as the potential renaming of Calhoun College and the elimination of the title master, will be announced in the coming weeks before final exams. But students are criticizing the University for likely waiting until either the end of classes or reading week to reveal these decisions.
Throughout the academic year, the Yale Corporation collected input from the Yale community and internally debated the three issues. But the body’s involvement ended during its fourth meeting last weekend, according to Vice President for Communications Eileen O’Connor. Now the University is poised to announce the decisions toward the end of the semester to the chagrin and skepticism of students. All 40 students interviewed said the University should make the announcements as far in advance of final exams as possible, and all 40 also said it will be more difficult for students to potentially protest the decisions as the semester comes to a close.
“It is very smart of them to announce the decisions when students will be most stressed and right before they leave — it is a smart, strategic move,” said Elisia Ceballo-Countryman ’18, who was involved with Next Yale in the fall. “It would look bad if [the administration] announced [the decision] when we all left because that wouldn’t allow for students to protest, and they don’t want to announce it when we can protest. So they’re being strategic in announcing the decisions when we’re all too busy studying for exams.”
Ceballo-Countryman said despite her involvement in last semester’s demonstrations against racism and discrimination on campus, preparing for final exams has to take priority — an unfortunate reality for student activists and one of which administrators are well-aware. She added that she believes the University could probably make the announcements sooner than it actually will.
O’Connor said there is “absolutely no strategy” behind the scheduling of the announcements. She added that she still expects “vigorous debate” about the issues once they are revealed, adding that the delay can also be explained by logistics, citing that Salovey is traveling this week. Once the decisions are announced, O’Connor said the administration will heavily engage with the student body and with all members of the Yale community through face-to-face meetings, phone calls with alumni and written communication.
In explaining the timing of the announcements, Salovey said the University is carefully planning how to deliver the decisions to the Yale community.
“We are not completely finished with our work. There are some details to track down and a few issues to address,” Salovey said. “The reasons for any decisions are as important as the decisions themselves. It is critical that these reasons be communicated clearly. That takes time to prepare, among other issues.”
Salovey did not specify whether any of the three naming issues have yet to be settled. The Corporation will not meet again before the announcements, and Salovey has said only the body can change the title master, name the two new colleges and rename Calhoun. One case in which a Corporation meeting and vote would not be required, Salovey said, is if the body chose not to alter Calhoun.
Still, students surveyed overwhelmingly believe the University is taking its time for strategic reasons.
“At the end of the day, people have so much to do at this time of year,” Viviana Andazola Marquez ’18 said. “It makes sense for them to wait because that will make it hard for students to mobilize, especially if it’s bad news … It seems they planned the decision-making period strategically so students will be unable to gather and respond.”
Allison Song ’19 said she is concerned that because of the stresses of the end of the semester, students will be less focused on these issues when they are announced. To her, these decisions deserve the “undivided attention” of the student body because of their long-term importance.
Given the amount of time the Corporation has spent deliberating these issues, Elena Saavedra Buckley ’18 said she is suspicious of the delay. She added that in putting off the announcements, administrators are going to make the most difficult time of the year even more stressful.
“I would say the sooner the better,” she said. “This has been in the air for so long that they should have been able to pick a less stressful time. It’s hard for a significant response to happen when everyone is so busy, and yet the University gets to say they made the announcements while students were on campus.”
Calhoun College opened in 1933.