Shortly after returning from serving in Burma with British and Indian forces during World War Two, my great-grandfather passed away suddenly. He left behind a wife and six young children with no source of income and little hope for a brighter future. To feed her children, my great-grandmother would beg for rice from house to house in her village. Even on days when the kindness of strangers was enough to feed her children, there were many nights where the pangs of hunger pains soothed her into the dark night. Three generations later, my family and I arrived in the United States with $100 and two suitcases among the four of us. When I was growing up, my family relied on government assistance to put food on the table. And at school, I was on free and reduced lunch. 

I am writing this to speak to the larger institutional issues that are so painfully apparent in the “Students take advantage of security flaws in The Bow Wow” article. The article, and the YDN at large, fails to uphold its journalistic integrity by publishing this piece. Second, the article fails to address actual problems of food insecurity at Yale, especially for its first-generation low-income students. 

There are several journalistic problems in the Bow Wow article that should have forced editors to reconsider publishing the piece. If an article wanted to establish, as fact, that there is a systemic theft issue, then the reporter would have to speak to many students and obtain explicitly documented confirmation to call it a trend. But rather than pursuing a meticulous data-driven reporting process, the reporter interviewed a total of three students. One of the students was a random student found at the Bow Wow because it was his first time there. The other student had never seen anyone stealing before and was not prepared to comment on it, but they hypothesized students’ potential motive for stealing is a lack of convenience. And the last student said they saw “many students” stealing on “several occasions” but didn’t specify any further. This is unsubstantiated sourcing. 

There is no apparent attempt to collect data or any other metrics to help quantify or corroborate stealing claims. Additionally, it is impossible for an article to infer the motives of other people for doing something. When, in fact, it isn’t even confirmed that people are engaging in that activity. And this is all to say that if there was a good piece about stealing at the Bow Wow, this is how it should be written. But again, there is no good piece about this subject. 

Whether or not theft occurs at the Bow Wow is not important. This article isn’t about stealing. It’s about creating fear. Poor journalism and a lackluster review process in this article have dangerous implications. Who will people blame first as the alleged perpetrators of this systemic and wide-reaching fraud at the Bow Wow? No doubt, the first stones are cast at first-generation low-income students and students of color. 

Rather than writing a fear-mongering article that will only cause Yale administrators to, without evidence, point fingers at students who are already struggling to get by, the YDN should focus on issues that actually affect the community it covers — and make sure that its definition of “community” includes FGLI students, too.

The article not only serves as a dog whistle to administrators to stoke caution against low-income and students of color from stealing from the University, but it also overlooks the actual problem of food insecurity faced by our most vulnerable students. The article also quotes a spokesperson who said that cases will be reported to the Yale College Deans Office and Yale Police. We can only hope that Yale will not increase its police and security presence at the Bow Wow, a presence that will affect our students of color most adversely. Because if we have learned anything over the past year and a half, it is that more policing is always the best solution. 

There are issues the YDN ignores related to food insecurity and FGLI students that must be addressed. The reporting should have focused on why Yale offers no consistent programming to low-income students during school breaks, like Thanksgiving and Spring break. Dining halls are closed during these times, and low-income students have no other source of getting warm and consistent meals. Around breaks, a frequent topic of conversation in our first-generation low-income Yale GroupMe is students asking which restaurants give large portions of food so they can stretch the food over the next few days. Another strategy low-income students utilize to feed themselves when Yale declines is to pack Tupperware containers from the dining hall to make the food last during the break. At Yale University, one of the wealthiest institutions the world has ever seen, students go to bed hungry because the administration has not provided adequate and regular food programming to students who have no other option. To say the dire situations Yale has placed some of its students in is heartbreaking would not be enough. 

Low-income students, like myself, chose Yale because they promised us they would take care of us and give us the resources we need to succeed. Yale also chose us from thousands of applicants. Yet, Yale chooses marginal profit gains and hunger pangs over the well-being of its most vulnerable students.  

To say this article is shameful would be an understatement. It built itself on unsubstantiated facts with little regard to how the piece would impact the student body while ignoring real problems of food insecurity that plague our campus. The YDN needs to do better to have more first-gen low-income and diverse representation on its board and in its writers to prevent articles like this from being published. And Yale must do a better job to protect its students from food insecurity. We must do better as a publication, as a University, and as a community that is supposed to be built around empathy and action. 

We are not criminals, no matter how you try to paint us. We are not undeserving of kindness because we do not pay tuition. We are not immune to hunger, no matter how strong you tell us we are. We are stronger than you will ever know. 

We are students too. But most importantly, we are people. 


ABEY PHILIP is a senior in Benjamin Franklin College. Contact him at