Yale News

Former US President George W. Bush ’68 will receive the 2019 Yale Undergraduates’ Lifetime Achievement Award, the Yale College Council announced Sunday.

The award aims to recognize college graduates for outstanding work in a particular field while simultaneously connecting students and alumni. Through a College-wide vote, students had the choice to choose between Paul Krugman ’74, Samantha Power ’92, Fareed Zakaria ’86 and Bush. The YCC did not disclose the margin of the vote when asked by the News. Three Yale undergraduates, selected by lottery, will be given the opportunity to travel with the YCC delegation to Dallas to present Bush with the award on April 29 at 9:00 a.m., per the YCC email. Still, some students on campus felt less than thrilled that Bush won the award.

“For anyone and everyone who has ever been chosen for this award, there are students who are extremely happy about it and students who are extremely upset,” said Saloni Rao ’20, president of the YCC. “Students in both of those groups are very valid.”

One student, Lorna Chitty ’20, said she thought the announcement was a “biting April Fools’ Joke.” She went on to say that she thinks “Bush deserves a trip to The Hague.”

“His role in violent invasions in the name of imperial American hegemony makes him — and us at Yale for condoning him — indefensible, deplorable, and unworthy of a platform,” Chitty wrote in an email to the News. “However, given our University’s close relationships with other war criminals (Henry Kissinger was just here!), it seems like he’ll fit right in with the other folks we like to honor.”

In response to these criticisms, Rao reported that, despite some students’ dissatisfied reactions, close to 1,000 students have already signed up to be in the delegation visiting Dallas. She said she expects at least 500 more to enter the lottery before its closing Thursday.

“From a more personal standpoint, I think anyone who assumes the executive office of the President [of the United States] takes on an immense amount of personal sacrifice,” Rao said. “They put the lives of them and their families in danger. And I think that in itself, counted as an isolated fact is commendable.”

Bush’s communications team did not respond to request for comment. The leaders of several conservative groups on campus also did not respond to requests for comment.

The Yale Undergraduates’ Lifetime Achievement Award is the only prize of its kind in the Ivy League that is entirely administered by students and is the result of a student-wide vote.

Skakel McCooey | skakel.mccooey@yale.edu