It’s always amusing for me to open up one of the many generic emails sent from Woodbridge Hall and count the number of administrators whose names or titles I don’t recognize at all.
Yalies spend a lot of our time critiquing the “administration”—but I’d hazard a guess that many have no idea to whom the term refers. And how could we? A cursory scan of the dean’s or provost’s office directories yields over 175 names of various deans and senior staff members that run the University, and these administrators in turn have thousands of employees who report to them. I’m sure that they’re all well-meaning people, but I’ve often wondered what all this bureaucracy is for.
Many of the debates that we have about University policy on campus boil down to a simple question: How should Yale allocate its resources? I’m not quite sure I know the answer to this question, but I do know the answer shouldn’t be this.
And the problem isn’t just having too many administrators. I’ve lost track of the number of task forces and committees announced by President Peter Salovey and/or the Yale College Council over my two years on campus.
I’ve already taken the YCC to task for churning out reports that seem to disappear into the ether soon after publication, but the fact that a similar situation plays out with Yale’s actual administration is far more frustrating. To their credit, many presidential task forces and committees appear to have up-to-date websites and many have published what appear to be very detailed reports on various aspects of the Yale experience. But many also don’t.
Of course, the committee reports that do get published are no different from the reports I’ve panned the YCC for putting out. These reports — whether by the Teaching, Learning and Advising Committee or the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility — don’t appear to inspire much change on campus, if any. In short, our tuition dollars go into funding reports that nobody ever reads.
In spite of this, time and time again, Yalies seem fine with the University expanding its bureaucracy. After Fossil Free Yale protests for divestment in 2013 and 2014, the Yale Corporation gave the ACIR increased authority. Though some divestment protests have occurred since then, Fossil Free Yale has been silent as of late. After the protests over racial injustice last year, Yale promised to spend $50 million on a campaign to increase faculty diversity. And what does that mean? The Yale School of Medicine created a “Chief Diversity Officer” position, that will be filled shortly. In other words, we hired more administrators!
Yet again, the student body appears to be placated. Why aren’t more people following up on Yale’s commitment to diversity? After students called for the renaming of Calhoun College, what did we get? Another committee of course — although this time, it came with a more ridiculous title: The Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming. Between this committee and the creation of the even stranger Committee on Art in Public Spaces, I wouldn’t be surprised Yale hired someone and gave him or her meaningless title, like a “renaming analyst” or “public art investigator.” Little has changed — save for a few more desks being added to an office somewhere each year.
What’s depressing is that the committees and reports that should, in fact, merit more attention, don’t receive any. An Association of American Universities survey last fall indicated that nearly three-quarters of Yale women had experienced sexual harassment, and nearly a third had been sexually assaulted. Where’s the committee for that? If one does exist, what have they been working on? I have received not a single email from the President’s Review Panel on Prevention of Sexual Misconduct.
Every administrator that I’ve actually met at Yale has been wonderful individually, and I really do value the work that so many people put in every day to keep the University running. But Yale ought to seriously consider a serious review of whether the time and talent of all of these individuals is being put to good use.
Shreyas Tirumala is a junior in Trumbull College. His column runs on alternate Fridays. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .