The anatomy of hegemony follows a lot of rules of exclusion. If the colored kids are kept out of positions of power, if women are kept away from resources or if indigenous communities are deprived of citizenship in their own land, you will by accident of allocation have a lot of time and opportunities to afford to a decided, privileged community of others.
In history, we have had more physical distributions of community segmentations. At Yale, acceptance into a core understanding of values allows kids of all histories to belong to uplifted communities. I am trying to wonder, and appeal to my class of scholars and lovers: Is what we find troubling with power the people who champion it or the nature of power’s own unjust totalitarianism?
The dilemma of secret societies at Yale is really a question of power. Fraternity traditions are premised on orientalist interpretations of fraternal ancient Greek traditions. Where does the elite institutions’ obsession for exclusion stem from? How does this obsession benefit the very structures its neoliberal heart aims to have been radicalized enough to rage against? Secret societies boast their public alienation and stand obnoxiously loud, in the form of tombs, to taunt the curious eye.
The beauty of adventure finds itself pacing through many streets in New Haven. Sometimes they shit on Old Campus, it’s a moment of ardent toughness. Chugged kegs, ping pong tournaments and dressed-up strolls through High Street prove a lot of utopia for kids who only want a little excitement.
As a first year, I wanted excitement too. Scary e-mails finding their way to my inbox was a victory. Needlessly surreptitious rituals welcome you into the tradition of coming to Yale. If it’s not tap night, it’s a rush party. Run fast, and run where you’re needed — and there will be a place just for you. This was where you were selected to be, above all the others who wished the same. Just like Yale, this is your private ascension, and it’s lovely because you deserved it.
Exclusion works in typically understandable ways. It creates the sense of belonging first through the definition of non-belonging. It builds an identity marker, whether one to be loyal to or striven towards, to rank individuals on their success or failure to realize themselves towards said identity marker. If you want the status of Skull and Bones’ access, what would you think, present or feel like? Are they already looking for you? How do they know how to look for you?
Riddle yourself this, and find yourself surveillanced.
What kind of boy becomes a SigEp president? Who do you pretend you are when you’re at a Fence or Alpha Phi rush event? More importantly, who do you assure that you’re not?
Lots of people spend their senior year with their Thursday nights institutionalized because they want to meet an impeccable diversity of Yalies. This is a utopian goal. I, too, want to spend the rest of my time at Yale accidentally running into dreams and aspirations in serendipity. What is lost when we give up the fate of chance to institutionalized power? For many, Yale is a marketplace for upscale networking. Some would fight for their right to treat it so.
My request is thus: Does this place fail so decisively in its promise of true intellectual growth and dedicated liberal arts work that the best of its students must succumb to mechanisms of social auditioning and stratification to feel included? I think my professors at Yale College have inspired me to strive for better: to think a bit harder and feel a little smarter.
If you will trust me, I promise you that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would probably snarl at the idea of secret societies: of all their private resorts, and all their fancy speakers, and the luncheons, and the Thursday night initiation rituals, and any portraits you might be able to find in your respective tombs. I believe that I can understand and negotiate with Yale without falling prey to all its immature socialites.
Graffiti all the tombs and crash every party that’s private on the basis of society membership, gender, class, either or all. You, and your beautiful Yale College, deserve better.
Zulfiqar Mannan | firstname.lastname@example.org .