Privileged voices

While we are happy that the News covered our forum on the impact of Yale volunteers on the city (“Panel discusses Yale, New Haven volunteering,” Oct. 15), we are disappointed that the reporters gave short shrift to the two non-Yale panelists.

There is no doubt that the Yale affiliates on the panel spoke thoughtfully about their experiences working in New Haven and mentoring student volunteers. They confront the questions posed at the event every single day, and we are grateful that they shared their wealth of knowledge with us.

But we had two other panelists, who were only mentioned at the end of the article as “also speakers at the event”: Lee Cruz and Kica Matos. Cruz and Matos drew on their work as advocates and mentors to share advice with the attendees. Cruz, for example, gave specific communication tips for making collaboration more effective, such as using “I” statements to criticize and “we and you” statements to praise. Matos shared personal anecdotes about how she led civil disobedience on the steps of a courthouse, as well as less successful examples of her work. Both panelists noted that although the impulse to get involved might be well-intentioned, advocates need to think carefully about which tactics will ultimately do more harm or good.

When we conceived of this discussion series, we put this as the first objective in our vision statement: “Bringing voices into the Yale space that are not often heard on campus.” We recognize that Yale voices are often privileged at the expense of others, and we see this as a flaw that needs correcting. The discussion series aims to act, in a small way, as such a corrective.

One audience member noted during the question-and-answer segment that in her 48 years in New Haven, she had never once stepped foot in a Yale University building. We hope the News will highlight voices like hers if it covers subsequent events in our discussion series.

Natalia Nazarewicz, Anderson Tuggle, Bethany Hill and Carolyn Lipp are students at the Law School and organize the Yale and New Haven Discussion Series.