The popular Facebook page Overheard at Yale may have a competitor in the “Yale Memes for Special Snowflake Teens” group, a newly created page for lovers of crudely photoshopped pictures of all things Yale, from campus administrators to dining hall fish.
The group, which has around 3,000 members including Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway, was inspired by meme pages at other universities across the nation. Two freshmen — Charles Comiter ’20 and Ephraim Sutherland ’20 — created the group on Nov. 28 for the circulation of often self-deprecating, Yale-specific humor. Comiter, who originally named the group “Yale Memes for Danger Inclined Teens” said he is proud of how the group has developed in just four months.
“The memes were pretty low-quality until about a month ago,” he said. “Suddenly, the memes started to get a lot better and edgier.”
Comiter, who described his favorite memes as “anything with Peter Salovey,” categorized the group’s content into several different genres: University President Peter Salovey, the Yale student effort expectation, Holloway and “Hanoi fried cape shark” — a new dish in Yale dining halls — among others.
Holloway, an inspiration for many of the group’s memes, has occasionally joined the comment-section conversation by replying to posts, many of which involve Yale students’ sadness at his imminent departure from the University.
“I am slowly becoming aware of memes as a ‘thing,’” Holloway told the News. “Once my daughter explained them to me … I was flattered and have happily dropped an occasional note on posts that relate to me. Beyond that however, I really don’t pay that [much] attention to them.”
Holloway is not the only well-known, non-Yale-student in the group, however. Controversial pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli and Ken Bone, a participant in a 2016 town-hall presidential debate, are both members of the group. Shkreli, who had a dominant presence in the meme page at University of California, Berkeley, has only posted once in the Yale group.
While Comiter and Sutherland appreciate the recognition, from students and from Holloway, which the group has gotten since its founding, both said they someday hope to be officially recognized by Salovey — whose passion for bluegrass music serves as easy fodder for memes — as well as high-profile alumni like Hillary Clinton LAW ’73, John Kerry ’66 and Stephen Schwarzman ’69.
The group, which has quickly become a popular Facebook groups on campus, has run into some problems, however. Both Comiter and Sutherland expressed concerns about “non-Yale related memes” that sometimes find their way onto the page. Often, this material is copied from another University meme group and reposted. In these cases, one of the group’s administrators — a group that includes George Iskander ’20, Kelsang Dolma ’19 and Ryan Gittler ’20, a staff reporter for the News — either take the post down or ask the student to “add something Yale-specific to it.”
Darby Mowell ’18, a frequent poster in the meme group, expressed concerns about how the page is run.
“I think the process of distributing power is odd and unclear, which is increasingly problematic as the group grows more popular,” she said. “Overheard at Yale, for instance, has an application process to pass leadership of the group from hand to hand.”
Mowell did, however, call the group, “a good community overall.”
Several students interviewed, including Ceri Godinez ’17, did not know the group existed. Others, including Xavier Westergaard ’19, did not have any desire to join.
“I have never visited ‘Yale Memes for Special Snowflake Teens’ but I’ve heard it described as a bit bland, and that’s no fun,” Westergaard said. He added that he prefers another Yale-related meme group called “Yale Memes 2: Electric Bugaloo.”
The creator of Yale Memes 2, Jack Webber ’19, said he started the new group in response to the Special Snowflake group, in order to “encourage more member involvement and more original, funnier content.”
But the original group is still becoming more popular. Posts that once would otherwise have received only a few dozen likes now receive a few hundred, Comiter said.
And its influence has even reached high school students: Raj Ramnani, a high school senior who has committed to Yale, said the meme page “ossified [his] decision to attend.”
As of now, Yale’s meme community is smaller, numerically speaking, than those at Harvard University or Columbia University. Comiter, who said he appreciates the memes from these other schools, argued that Harvard’s success was potentially the result of “rampant grade inflation,” which may have given Harvard students more time to create and consume memes. He also claimed that Columbia has “an urban advantage.”
The “Yale Memes for Special Snowflake Teens” is registered as a public Facebook group.