A shameful donation

University President Peter Salovey’s letter explaining why Yale should not return Stephen Schwarzman’s ’69 $150 million gift fails to address the substantive issue that has nothing to do with “disagreeing about ideas while working together for the common good” (“Giving back,” Mar. 3, 2017). Rather the issue is whether Yale should accept money from a person who works diligently to place financial markets in jeopardy of yet another global meltdown and who is a major player in fostering increased income inequality. Now, this donor is assisting the most unqualified and morally questionable U.S. president ever to be sworn into office to deregulate not only the markets but also to dismantle environmental and minority protections. In so doing, Schwarzman is acting for the benefit of the few, not for the common good.

Nonetheless, Salovey apparently has no problem with accepting money from such a person. If so, he should have the courage to say so. I note that Yale has a history of ignoring tainted sources of donations. Consider, for instance, the Mazzuto scandal of 2010, when Yale was sued by defrauded parties to retrieve a donation from a convicted thief.

While Schwarzman and his company have not been convicted of any felony, they both accumulate vast wealth at the expense of ordinary people and at the risk of renewed market chaos. After the Trump administration crashes and burns in a vast pyre of corruption and incompetence, I wonder how long it will be before there’s a renaming hearing on the Schwarzman Center.

James Luce ’66

Contact James Luce ’66 at jaume@sbcglobal.net .