Editor’s note: The News received the following letters from alumni in response to Yale Corporation’s decision to remove the petition process from its elections.
To the Yale Corporation:
The very first high school senior I ever interviewed, in 1998, got into Yale. I remember he was extremely earnest. And then there was the decadeslong lull. In 2020, for the first time ever, TWO of my students were accepted! I remain very happy for them.
Of course, very few of the students I’ve interviewed over the years have been accepted. I’ve listened to alumni gripe about this fact, but it doesn’t bother me. Because my objective isn’t to get students into Yale, although that is nice. My objective is to meet smart, dedicated young adults who will change the world. And that helps me sleep at night.
Until now I have had no difficulty effusively praising Yale. But I can no longer do that in good conscience. Because Yale no longer values open, honest debate. It already had a very hard time with open, honest debate when electing alumni fellows. Traditional nominees were barred from expressing any thoughts on any issue relevant to Yale, an extreme position you justified with strained logic.
Yesterday you dropped the nuclear option, eliminating all petition candidates entirely, thus shutting down ANY debate whatsoever. We must vote for a candidate not based on what they say or think, but what the Alumni Fellows Nominating Committee says about them. Sorry, but that’s a sham banana republics would be proud of.
Last year I stepped up as director of my Alumni Schools Committee. I really enjoyed it, and was hoping to continue for a long time. But thanks to your narrow-minded decision, I won’t.
Paul Mange Johansen ES ’88
As a double Yalie (’59 LAW ’62), I have always felt indebted to my alma mater for the wonderful education I received and the opportunities it provided me during my career. As a long-time teacher of corporate law, I always taught that corporate boards were elected by the shareholders to assure a sense of accountability and responsibility. Apparently the members of the Yale Corporation don’t feel the same duties to the alumni, who may from time to time believe that the board is too passive and not sufficiently attentive to the founding goals of a great university. The recent campaign of Victor Ashe to run for election against the two insider nominees is shocking evidence. While Mr. Ashe was not elected, the immediate response of the trustees was to assure that a democratic process allowing petitions for nomination would never happen again.
While there is much rhetoric about diversity and inclusiveness today, apparently it does not apply to the Yale Corporation. Shame on them. While I have not been a large supporter, I’m ending even that effort in view of my gloomy view of the future of the University in such hands.
William J. Carney ’59 LAW ’62
I was saddened, but not surprised, to receive the email from the Yale Board of Trustees terminating the petition process to be a candidate in the alumni fellow election.
The excuse given was that the petition process would involve issues-based candidates and distort the nature of the board. Presumably, it is suggested, that the ideal board
be a diverse group of individuals with a shared sense of purpose. Indeed, we would expect that this sense of purpose is sought by all Yale graduates.
The present path of the board appears to be one of maintaining WOKE direction, leading to a one-sided approach of education and consequently a social policy of direction leading to a dissimulation of one-sided judgements and the discarding of traditional bases of universal direction.
Robert Marvin, M.D.
Yale College, 1961
Many alumni were upset by the decision of the Yale University Board of Trustees not to accept petition candidates in the future. But alumni have always had the right to vote with their wallets. So I hope that those alumni who support the decision of the Yale Board will continue to support that board with generous contributions to the Yale endowment. I also hope that those who do not support the Yale Board’s decision will, nevertheless, continue to support higher education. Dr. David Thomas ’78, the successful alumni trustee candidate in the recently contested election, is president of Morehouse College, one of the 37 member institutions of the United Negro College Fund, and Dr. Ivy Taylor ’92, is president of Rust College, another member institution. What all 37 of these colleges and universities have in common is that none of them has a $30 billion endowment or an enrollment drawn disproportionately from the children of our country’s wealthiest 1 percent. So contributing to any of one these 37 colleges and universities, instead of contributing to Yale, is an excellent way of furthering educational opportunities for the disadvantaged and expressing disapproval of the Yale Board of Trustees’ decision on petition candidates.
Jim Ditkoff ’68
Your excellent story yesterday outlining the qualifications of the three independent candidates seeking election to the Yale Corporation Board next year is now null and void. The corporation summarily eliminated that possibility with an edict Monday telling all alumni/ae to take a hike. Their opinions don’t matter.
How about that for lux et veritas!
Class of 1964
What a whitewash!
During an election where a write-in candidate may be in process of winning even though the board chose a single official candidate to make it even less likely for an outsider to prevail, by not splitting the vote between two official hand picked candidates, however well qualified.
I must be one of many alumni who will now seriously consider the testamentary gift I had intended to give to Yale !
With great regret,
Edward Cox ’65
Yale University’s new method of selecting an alumni trustee is ridiculous. In effect a few active trustees will control who will be allowed to run for election. There will be no views other than those of the “in group” on the board. That’s wrong!
These are the techniques of theocracies and dictatorships, not the Yale of freedom of speech that I attended.
Lawrence Prince ‘62