The lessons the University teaches
I commend Finnegan Schick ’18 for his important, informative and balanced piece (“Is Yale becoming too corporate?” April 14) on the corporatization of the University and the tension between those focused on the “bottom line” and those who still believe the University should be focused on an educational mission. I have only a footnote to add to this analysis, and it concerns the way the corporatization is itself the prime subject of university education.
First, if Yale is to continue to produce national leaders, students need to see in their University the kinds of accounting practices that make our country run. We are a nation that understands that great missions like the war in Iraq could never have taken place if Congress had not decided to declare the war expense outside the budget. And no war in Iraq, no ISIS. Where would we be? A University that speaks of reducing administrative costs by boasting the number of middle-class jobs it has eliminated while ignoring the number of hugely compensated administrators — and millions in bonuses to presidents and vice presidents — is educating its students in how to do corporate and political accounting.
Second, to prepare students of all sexual orientations for life-partnership in the 21st century, students need to see the benefits of “shared services.” Nothing is more inefficient than having the same person who could earn $1000 an hour in corporate administration or corporate law doing menial work like loading the dishwasher or going to see a child’s play. The future lies in shared domestic services, dividing what was once the “packaged” services of husband or wife into separate duties performed by people of separate skill levels and compensation levels. The centralization of departmental administration, taking away, for example, the lower-level skills from departmental business managers, helps students prepare for the domestic life of the future. Eliminating middle-class positions of college pantry workers and replacing them with lower-wage workers in a Winchester Avenue food factory prepares all students for a world in which meal preparation will be done primarily outside the home. In the University, it’s called “centralization”; after graduation, it’s called “take out.”
That our students know and appreciate the Yale model of “shared services” is represented well by their social and sexual lives. The “hookup buddy” is the Yale student’s personal participation in the corporatization model: It is much more efficient to have sex with one low-emotional-investment partner and save high-emotional-investment romance for another, another time. And if we truly are to heed the lessons of corporatization, we must prepare students for a world when sexual reproduction will be handled by the experts, those with the high SAT-score producing genes, and not left to the multi-tasking masses as it was in our parents’ inefficient times.
Leslie Brisman is the Karl Young Professor of English.