In the wake of Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in last Tuesday’s presidential election, international students at Yale view the incoming Trump administration as a cause both for concern and for action.
International Yalies were invited to attend on open meeting hosted by the Office of International Students and Scholars late Monday afternoon. The discussion, moderated by OISS adviser Ozan Say, served as a forum for students to express their opinions on issues both specific to international students and to the student body at large. Logistical topics including student visas were covered alongside more philosophical ones, such as the role international students should play in American political discussions.
“There is little we know at this point for sure about the possible directions the new administration will take,” Say said.“So the purpose of these gatherings is not to inform [students] per se, but to offer an opportunity to voice their thoughts and concerns together with their international peers.”
Say began the conversation by stressing that, despite Trump’s campaign rhetoric and the promises he made about immigration policy, “we just don’t know much.” Trump’s platform includes building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and deporting up to three million undocumented immigrants with criminal records. Say also referenced recent instances in which Trump has already backtracked on some of his proposed policies in health care.
Say offered a note of consolation, emphasizing that any changes in immigration policy will first require extensive discussion and time before they are implemented.
The only swift changes Trump could make, Say said, would be those within the purview of executive action such as Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allows certain undocumented immigrants to receive renewable two-year work permits and deportation exemptions. Even if Trump decided to exercise executive action, he could be sued for any move deemed as “arbitrary or capricious,” Say added.
Say emphasized that inherent in the U.S. political system are safeguards against the drastic changes to immigration or student visa policy that Trump could propose. Currently international students apply for the F1 student visa and Optional Practical Training status in order to study and work in the U.S.
Although international students are unlikely to be affected by political reform, Say said they may notice changes in social climate during a Trump presidency.
During the discussion, two international students from India voiced concerns that Trump’s ascent to power had given confirmation and validation to proponents of racism and xenophobia, comparing Trump’s effect on America’s social climate to that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s in India.
Ewurama Okai ’17, a student from Zambia, said she felt she had been failed by America, a country that in her view offered a promise of acceptance and “melting pot” culture.
“To feel that you have lost something, and to realize it was a failure you had no control over, that can feel very alienating,” Okai said.
Ariq Hatibie ’20, a Muslim international student from Hong Kong, echoed Okai’s disappointment. He noted that his conversations about America with his peers in high school painted a rosy picture of America as “an unequivocally rich and prosperous intellectual center.” He added that his perception of America was drastically altered by the election’s results and expressed a desire to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the America outside of Yale’s “liberal bubble.”
Attendees who come from largely conservative countries said they have experienced difficulty navigating the liberal dialogue on campus since the election.
A student from Singapore who chose to remain anonymous for fear of backlash noted that he could empathize with people who had voted for Trump, mentioning that his experience as a member of the Chinese majority in Singapore allows him to understand Trump supporters’ anti-immigrant feelings.
Others noted that they felt safe within Yale but were uneasy about what is happening beyond Yale’s gates, referring to recent acts of aggression towards Muslim students at other colleges such as San Diego State University.
“Yale has always been a friendly and liberal place, but I am legitimately concerned about some of my friends who go to school in the South,” said Azan Virji ’17, who comes from Tanzania.
University President Peter Salovey and former president Richard Levin have both expressed unequivocal support for welcoming international students to the university in the past. Both Presidents have advocated for immigration regulations that help foster a productive environment for international students, Say said.
Okai added that she feared the potential collapse of major American institutions, such as journalism and trust in scientific evidence.
“We think of America as this place where institutions were meant to stand forever, as the city that’s supposed to withstand everything,” she said. “And it’s collapsing just because one person said some things. How do you get people to speak the same language again after this?”
Several attendees also expressed a sentiment that their voices as international students were often discounted, noting a common notion that international students come to Yale only to study and not to stay. To counter these concerns, Okai urged other attendees to adopt a philosophy of greater engagement.
Stephanie Addenbrooke ’17, former Editor-in-Chief of the News and a student from the U.K., said in recent days she already saw many of her peers “stepping up to the plate” and becoming more politically active.
“People are saying, ‘this is a community I care about, and I’m going to fight for it,’” Addenbrooke said.
International students at Yale represent 20 percent of the student body, according to Yale’s official website.
In an election year dominated by division and uncertainty, this is one statement that commands wide agreement. “The greatest bogeymen of the moment,” opined Ishaan Tharoor, “are the shadowy yet weirdly ‘ubiquitous’ elites.” From “Washington insiders” to “the mainstream media,” the term has become a stand-in for a host of people and policies Trump voters supposedly detest. Who, exactly, is this “elite” class we hear so much about?
Well, my Blue State Bolsheviks, it’s you.
It’s the intelligentsia that seems incapable of going one week without reminding Americans to check their privilege. It’s the Harvard Law professor who urged his fellow liberals to give up trying to accommodate opponents of same-sex marriage —“taking a hard line seemed to work reasonably well in Germany and Japan,” after all. It’s the pundits who insist that crime is at an all-time low and in the same breadth vilify the blue-collar, blue-cladded men and women tasked with keeping us safe.
It’s the lawyers, publicists and technocrats who shape public policy and public opinion. In other words, it’s Yale, past, present and future.
When Trump supporters bemoan the American elite, they aren’t talking about some shady cabal of crooked businessmen and crony politicians, quietly manipulating the markets and media. Such imagery might keep Bernie Bros up at night, but it has little to do with rightwing populism. No, Trump supporters are angry at “the opinion-making elements” of society: the professors, lawyers and intellectuals so confident in their stranglehold on the bellows of public discourse that they hardly bother to mask their disdain for half the American electorate.
Many commentators, most of them Ivy League graduates, have done their best to discredit “it’s the elites, stupid” as the explanation for The Donald’s meteoric rise: “Surely the culprit is income inequality!” Or xenophobia. Or racism. All these factors probably fuel Trumpism to some degree, but none strikes me as a sufficient catalyst for our current moment. It is no longer 2008, and regardless, Americans have always cared more about equal opportunity than equal outcome. The resurgence of white nationalism is certainly frightening, but let’s be honest, alt-right bloggers constitute a very small fraction of Trump’s base.
Globalization, meanwhile, is such a vague scapegoat that its frequent invocation supports, rather than undermines, the cultural argument. Elites in both parties have long championed free trade and open borders as the panacea to every imaginable social ill — the same elites who sneer at the mere suggestion of making America great again.
Speaking of open borders, it’s a bit hard to represent the 77 percent of Americans who believe it is “extremely” or “very important” that the government take measures to halt the flow of undocumented immigrants into the U.S when every attempt to do so invites charges of racism. Moreover, a growing number of conservative lawmakers, no doubt frightened by a possible GOP implosion, have begun to take a similar tone towards anyone who sympathizes with Trump’s stance on immigration. One needn’t support The Wall to recognize that ostracizing mainstream political opinions from the political mainstream is a recipe for anger and resentment.
Trump voters have little reason to hope all this will change anytime soon. The next generation of intellectual aristocrats is shaping up to be even worse than the current one. While middle America chokes on heroin and wage stagnation, Yale students are hard at work protesting the systems of “white supremacy” that, apparently, render Yale’s extravagant residential colleges “unsafe.” To the millions of Americans who have never heard of a case-interview, Kierkegaard or quinoa, such antics confirm Trump’s apocalyptic vision of the ruling class: self-absorbed, spoiled and living in a fantasy world.
Some will insist that language like “white privilege” is necessary for describing — and, therefore, confronting — the reality of structural racism in this country. Conservatives, of course, use similar logic to justify their infantile obsession with the phrase “radical Islam.” Islam obviously has something to do with Islamic terrorism, and white people obviously have something to do with racial inequality. But, as our enlightened guardians at MSNBC never fail to remind us, reducing complicated social problems to cheap slogans and facile caricatures doesn’t make them go away, and in many cases makes them worse.
Plus, it makes you sound like a jerk.
Normally, if a Yale professor called a large, racially homogenous group of working class Americans “deplorable,” campus would be awash in moral outrage. Yet none of us batted an eye when professor Charles Blow did just that in the New York Times a few weeks ago. Our silence legitimizes the condescension that runs rampant through this and every Ivory Tower. It legitimizes the Trumpian worldview.
It is, to use Blow’s favorite slur, deplorable.
Donald Trump lacks the judgment, temperament and decency to lead this country. He’s piggish. He’s arrogant. He’s stupid. On Tuesday, I will vote for his opponent.
But he’s made it this far. And, you, Yale, are partly to blame.
Aaron Sibarium is a junior in Timothy Dwight College. His column runs on alternate Wednesdays. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
One of Donald Trump’s most obnoxious rhetorical strategies is to turn every question he gets about black Americans into a diatribe about America’s “inner cities,” as if all black people live in cities and all city residents are black.
Don’t bother telling Trump that there are thousands of American cities, each with its own character and culture, its unique triumphs and tribulations. To him, “inner cities” are “ghettos,” hopeless wastelands overrun by crime, violence and decay. They’re “devastating,” “a disaster … in every way possible.” Perhaps most incredulously, he has pronounced that African-Americans “are living in hell.”
I concede that Trump may know a thing or two about the experience of people of color in American cities. After all, he used his father’s money to purchase apartment buildings in New York City, then systematically denied the applications of would-be black tenants and forced existing black renters from their units. If “inner cities” are Hell, does that make Trump Satan?
But Trump is wrong in his alarmist and dehumanizing claims that America’s cities are uniformly desolate, and wrong in his vague pronouncements about how to address the challenges cities face. He offers a mix of predictable conservative pabulum, terrifying neo-fascist garbage and completely incoherent prescriptions like “we will give people economics.”
Our city, New Haven, offers the perfect rebuttal to Trump’s claims. The city still faces challenges in crime, employment and education. But New Haven is surging, its economy is thriving and its neighborhoods are becoming livelier and more livable every day. And despite Trump’s insistence that “inner city” struggles are “the legacy of Democratic politicians,” New Haven’s resurgence was powered by an all-Democratic slate of city leaders.
Trump argues that cities like New Haven are “more dangerous than some war zones” — but in the past five years, New Haven’s crime rate has dropped dramatically. The Elm City (and the rest of the country) is safer than it’s been in decades. New Haven didn’t stop, frisk and profile its way to safety, as Trump recommends. The city invested in community policing tactics, bringing neighbors and cops together for Pizza with a Cop community dinners, paying officers to live in public housing and transitioning their patrol strategy from faceless cops in cars to neighborhood cops walking beats. They worked with schools to pioneer a program called Youth Stat that gave kids at risk of criminal activity access to resources and support, not just lectures and threats. As a result, crime is declining steadily.
Trump argues that “jobs are essentially nonexistent” in cities. But the unemployment rate in New Haven has dropped by more than a third in three short years, because the city has invested in job training, education and entrepreneurs. Mayor Harp created a wildly successful Small Business Academy; the city worked with the state to attract major employers in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries like Alexion Pharmaceuticals; small startups like SeeClickFix have seen booming growth; the community has leveraged its political power to convince Yale to hire 500 more New Haven residents.
“The education is a disaster,” Trump complains of urban America. But New Haven Public Schools has seen increased rates of graduation, college acceptance and college attendance. These gains didn’t come through school voucher schemes that would redirect public dollars to private schools, as Trump has proposed. They came because the city worked with Yale to launch the New Haven Promise program that guaranteed students a free education at a public college if they had a 3.0 GPA in high school. Schools also connected students to public services through the Boost! program, worked with parents to implement restorative discipline practices and expanded access to early childhood education.
There is still more to do. Many New Haveners, especially in communities of color, struggle — in part because of politicians who believe “wages are too high,” as Trump suggests, and landlords who quietly discriminate, as Trump did.
But Trump’s hyperbolic rhetoric on cities is wrong and racist. It undermines the incredible work that politicians, nonprofit leaders, teachers, business owners and community volunteers are doing to revitalize New Haven and other cities like it.
I dare Donald Trump to come to New Haven and see this Democrat-driven urban renaissance. I dare him to look in the eyes of the neighborhood activists in the Hill who have won affordable housing concessions from big developers, the parent activists who have catalyzed the push for restorative justice in New Haven Public Schools, the small business owners on Grand Avenue or Whalley Avenue or Howe Street who are creating jobs one by one. I dare him to tell them they are “living in hell.”
He would get the swift kick in the rear he richly deserves.
Fish Stark is a junior in Jonathan Edwards College. Contact him at email@example.com .
Dear child: The world is a broken and bizarre place.
By the time you read this, you will be a student in college confronting an intersection of adult issues that I grappled with way back in 2016.
In 2016, the Republican Party nominated Donald Trump as its candidate for the presidency. For many of us, Trump represented troubling tendencies of exclusivism and misogyny in the United States. He campaigned on a divisive platform devoid of intellectual credibility. In the face of these problems, we laughed. We laughed because he was foolish and we laughed to conceal our fear.
In 2016, the Syrian civil war had resulted in more than 400,000 deaths. Two hundred and seventy-five thousand people were trapped in eastern Aleppo, Syria, where Russian-backed forces bombed hospitals and markets in an attempt to eradicate Islamic State rebels. Western countries accused the Kremlin of war crimes, yet the United States continued to intensify air strikes on Syrian soil. Superpower nations advanced their political interests over the well being of citizens on the ground, driving some to compare this conflict to the Holocaust.
In 2016, an estimated 44 million Americans struggled with mental health issues, and a few more million struggled in complete silence. Sometimes people can can suffer from delusions and manic outbreaks and deep depressions. But it is never their fault, and it is never their flaw. In New Haven, people lived on the street because they did not have affordable health care which would provide mental health treatment. This was the sobering truth: Some of us here at Yale had similar diseases, yet we resided in dorms and travelled to Europe and wrote for school publications because of our access to proper health care.
In 2016, your father — and many others — lived out a transgender identity. We bemoaned Caitlyn Jenner’s appeal to the Republican base, which included a plea to be Ted Cruz’s trans ambassador, yet we couldn’t resist feeling happy that an American celebrity was bringing deserved visibility to our cause. We met with Dean Jonathan Holloway and conducted a group interview with Katie Couric, who narrated a documentary on National Geographic titled “Gender Revolution” in mid-December. In the midst of these milestones, some of us decided to undergo medical treatments to feel more satisfied with our bodies. There were needles and scars. Remember, though, that no physical object or process is the sole determinant of your identity — only you are.
In 2016, your grandmother presided over an embassy in Jordan that confronted the menace of ISIS. One summer in Amman, I studied terrorist recruitment and learned that those who feel alienated from society will commit barbaric acts against innocent civilians, simply to gain a sense of belonging. As I write, Iraqi forces are executing a siege against the city of Mosul that will determine the territorial success of ISIS. Yet despite the probability of an Iraqi victory, ISIS continues to win in the sphere of propaganda simply because ideas cannot be killed. They have successfully perpetuated hate-filled messages among people in the Levant and beyond.
What ISIS taught me was that ideas stand immutable, for better or for worse. Ironically, this realization is crucial to activist pursuits: When working for a cause, you should dedicate energy to crafting durable ideas that will withstand any form of censorship, so that others, beyond your generation and geographical scope, can continue your important work.
But in order to propagate great ideas, you must learn to accurately express them. So I’ll teach you how to write. I’ll teach you how to write in hyperrational Orwellian dialect and then I’ll teach you how to write in lavish asymmetrical prose. After doing this, I’ll teach you how to reconcile these two styles so that your adjectives are ripe yet purposeful, and so that your verbs hint at the most specific of actions. Then I’ll teach you that much of writing simply cannot be taught — that your syntactical rhythm can only come from the internal monologue you use to navigate this very broken and very bizarre world.
Isaac Amend is a senior in Timothy Dwight College. His column runs on alternate Mondays. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
During the third and final presidential debate on Wednesday, Oct. 19, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 addressed her plan to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans in order to continue funding Social Security. In response to Clinton’s jab about his undisclosed tax returns, Republican nominee Donald Trump delivered one of his trademark interruptions. Shaking his head, as if to say “what a shame,” he branded his opponent with a now-viral phrase: nasty woman.
No one can deny Trump has a gift for catchy nicknames. And with this one, he may have solidified Clinton’s lead in a key demographic: women, whose support for him was already plunging after the release of 2005 Access Hollywood tapes in which he bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy.”
From mid-September’s pre-debates NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll to one conducted post-tape leak in mid-October, Clinton’s lead over Trump in a four-way matchup swelled from 6 to 11 percent. As of Oct. 11, Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight had compiled 12 national polls to find that Trump trailed Clinton by 15 points among female voters. For comparison, in 2012, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is estimated to have lost among women by 8 points. In the last few weeks of the election, as her lead widens, Clinton has eased up on direct campaigning, lending her influence to tight Senate and House races.
Among college voters, even those who temper their support for Clinton, Trump’s statements have finally united self-identified “nasty women” around the Democratic nominee. At Yale, Trump’s debate comment set off a Twitter firestorm and launched multiple t-shirt campaigns. Eleanor Slota ’17 recalls her mother’s reaction during their viewing of the debate: “Has nasty women merchandise started circulating yet? Because it will.” And indeed, the Yale College Democrats have begun selling t-shirts emblazoned with “Nasty Woman” and “Bad Hombre,” another Trump debate quote.
Azeezat Adeleke ’17, vice-president of the Dems, can’t wait to wear her t-shirt. She believes students have taken to the term as a rallying cry, citing photos they’ve posted with absentee ballots — Clinton/Kaine box checked — captioned with a Trumpian epithet. At Yale, 80 percent of students support Clinton for the presidency, according to an October survey by the News. Among students who identify as Republicans, 29.92 percent plan to vote for Clinton, more than the 26.14 percent who support Trump.
It’s entirely safe to say Hillary Clinton has won Yale, though it’s no surprise that the undergraduate population has swung Democratic. (The University’s undergrads have essentially tended towards the leftmost fringe of political discourse since before the last footsteps of William F. Buckley Jr. ’50 echoed over the threshold of Skull and Bones.) But Clinton’s 80 percent is more complicated than it appears. According to a mid-October NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Clinton stood 13 points ahead of Trump among younger voters. A September New York Times/CBS poll showed that more than a third of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 planned to vote for a third-party candidate.
Though many at Yale supported Clinton from the start, as evidenced by the three-year tenure of Yale Students for Hillary, there was no shortage of ambivalence about her on campus. In August 2015, the News conducted its annual survey of incoming freshmen. The survey found that 38 percent of the class of 2019 supported Sen. Bernie Sanders (D–Vermont), while Clinton trailed with 23 percent.
To the left, to the left
For many students at Yale during the primary season, Bernie Sanders was a more appealing choice for president. During his visit to New Haven in April, Overheard at Yale was flooded with photos of the back of Sanders’ head — the closest one could get through the crowds that followed him.
Gabrielle Diaz ’18, the current Ward 22 Democratic Committee co-chair, characterizes college-age voters as generally further left than the Democratic Party. Esul Burton ’20, who has canvassed a few times for Clinton through the Yale Dems, remembers the primary season as follows: “One week I’d be feeling the Bern; the next, I’d be with her.” As a woman of color, Burton found Sanders’ positions on criminal justice reform and the Black Lives Matter movement appealing.
Though she voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary, Rita Wang ’19, the political action coordinator at the Yale Women’s Center, says she did so to encourage the Democratic Party to embrace more progressive policies as she still expected to support Hillary Clinton in the general election. Wang believes her ability to see herself as a political person stems from seeing Hillary Clinton throughout her life. “She has been in the public sphere as a politician for as long as I have been alive, and her loss in 2008 was all too reminiscent of the high school campaigns I have lost.” For Wang, women in power promote broader gender equality, especially given the obstacles they may face in being elected.
Musing on Clinton’s lack of support during the primary season, Wang said, “Perhaps it’s because she doesn’t speak the ‘woke’ language easily that us Yale students are so used to hearing from Bernie and on campus.” Layla Treuhaft-Ali ’17, former chair of the Party of the Left, believes the animosity from leftists toward Clinton reveals “pretty serious sexism.” But she argues that millennials, unlike their parents, are more interested in candidates’ policies than their identities. That opinion would resonate with the many millennial feminists across the U.S. who refused to support Clinton solely on the basis that she might break the last “glass ceiling” aspired to by their mother and grandmothers. “Is Hillary a good candidate for feminists? Her policies are much better for women than Trump’s, in terms of reproductive rights and health care, and that’s what I care about,” Treuhaft-Ali said. “Is she, personally, a feminist icon? Probably not, and that’s okay with me.”
In early February, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright made a controversial statement: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” Many believed her remark was directed at women, especially younger women, who were not planning to support Clinton.
As if to underscore the shift from generation to generation of feminists, a senior at Yale, sitting in the Women’s Center during their voter registration drive, responded to Albright’s comment with an explosive “fuck you!”
Yet women may still need to help each other. There’s no denying it: simply because she is the first woman to be a major party nominee, Clinton has faced some unprecedented difficulties on the national stage. Sarah Rose ’17, a member of the Party of the Left, mentioned that, for her, Clinton lacks a charismatic stage presence — but sarcastically noted that charisma, for many Americans, is “much easier to display when presenting as male with a deep voice.” Burton acknowledges the deep and subtle power of entrenched gender expectations, saying “part of me bought into the sexist portrayal of Clinton. She seemed untrustworthy and cold, and I didn’t want that in my president.”
Burton now enthusiastically supports Clinton. She believes that the labels assigned to her — “liar,” “crook,” “untrustworthy” — would not have been assigned to male politicians on either side of the aisle, mentioning Secretary of State John Kerry ’66 and Sen. Marco Rubio (R–Florida). Burton argues that “politicians across the board aren’t genuine and aren’t transparent, but we expect Clinton, as a woman, to be held to a higher standard.”
Though she acknowledges many are thrilled to shatter the glass ceiling, Rose believes that electing women as leaders must extend beyond the White House, and that the wage gap and social gender norms need to be addressed as well. Emaline Kelso ’17, who previously supported Bernie Sanders, agrees, but more bluntly. “Hillary will not ‘shatter the glass ceiling.’ A white, wealthy, highly-educated woman with deep political connections becoming president does not, cannot and will not signal the end of the patriarchy.” Kelso points to President Barack Obama’s election, arguing that it did not eliminate racism or resolve racial tension.
Eleanor Runde ’17 tempers Kelso’s argument. “Our national narrative changed when Obama was elected. The stories that we tell ourselves about what America is, and what America can be, changed. The same is true this November.” Runde argues that facets of a candidate’s identity matter to Americans who share those identities, and beyond that, to those who advocate for greater equality.
In her 1995 speech at the United Nations as First Lady, Hillary Clinton said, “Women’s rights are human rights,” a statement she echoed in her 2008 concession speech. During that campaign, Clinton had not stressed her identity as a female candidate, lest she receive the same criticism as 2000 Republican presidential candidate Elizabeth Dole, of whom one GOP consultant complained, “she has to have a message beyond ‘I am woman, hear me roar,’” referencing Helen Reddy’s 1971 feminist anthem. The idea among millennial feminists that gender should not be a primary motivating factor is not new.
But on July 28, 2016, Hillary Clinton was introduced by the voice of God, Morgan Freeman, to accept the Democratic nomination. Opening the convention, she had appeared after the portraits of all the men she hopes to succeed in the White House on a massive screen, in the midst of shattering glass. Into “18 million pieces,” as Clinton put it in her 2008 concession speech, referring to the number of votes she received in the primary. Despite a less ardent desire to see a woman in the White House from younger feminists and criticism of her behavior from both sides of the aisle, Clinton had decided to embrace the historic nature of her candidacy. Ironically, it is her opponent who has unintentionally allowed her to capitalize on it in the final weeks of the election.
The Trump Touch
When Trump closed his eyes, shook his head and called Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman,” he appears to have underestimated how many women had yet to cast their ballots.
Josh Altman ’17, president of the conservative William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale, believes Trump’s attitudes toward women everywhere have now drawn far more focus than Clinton’s own gender. He believes the tapes seriously hurt Trump’s candidacy due to a wives-and-daughters effect. “Republican men cannot fathom having to justify these comments … to their female family members.” Emmy Reinwald ’17, co-president of the Yale College Republicans, calls the tapes “the straw that broke the camel’s back” for many Republican women who had previously backed Trump, ignoring his personal behavior and prioritizing conservative values and Supreme Court nominations. But for some Democrats on campus, this shift is too little, too late. “If the majority of those middle-range voters cared about women and respecting women, they would have been suspicious of Trump before his pussy-grabbing comments,” said Diaz.
The “nasty woman” comment also touched a nerve among younger voters. It made Burton “livid,” shocking her in a way the Access Hollywood tapes did not. “Maybe it was because he said it during a presidential debate on national TV, which meant he intended it to be heard publicly, but I was pretty upset.” said Burton. “To say that directly to Clinton when debating her on live television? It’s disgusting.”
Helen Price ’18, co-director of Unite Against Sexual Assault Yale, argues that this election in particular has “put a spotlight on the kind of subtle sexism that virtually every woman is familiar with — the obsession with Clinton not seeming “likeable” and that being discussed in very gendered terms; the fact that she — the most qualified candidate to ever run for president — has to stand on a stage and debate with a man who is wildly unqualified and misogynistic as if they were equals.” Price said that the “nasty woman” moment has electrified many millennial women and allowed them to identify more closely with Clinton. “Women at Yale, and educated women everywhere, are so often characterized as aggressive, mean or pushy for voicing our opinions or being ambitious.”
From her years as part of the Yale Political Union, Treuhaft-Ali remembers men criticizing her as “too aggressive,” and “too angry,” while men speaking alongside her were praised for being “assertive and convincing.” She was instructed to lower her voice so as not to sound too feminine. Men in the audience gestured for her to cut her speeches short.
However, the effect of #NastyWoman has some doubters. Bree Peilen, a junior at the University of Michigan who previously organized for Bernie Sanders and now does so for Clinton, said the phrase seems to be uniting feminists already committed to Clinton, rather than swinging undecided voters.
On the right, Amalia Halikias ’15, a former member of the Yale College Republicans, the Tory Party and the Buckley program, thinks the “nasty woman pride response is laugh-out-loud hilarious.” She wonders if her social media feeds would have “blown up” had Trump called Hillary a “stupid woman” instead. Reinwald, also of the Yale College Republicans, characterized the phrase as a great sound bite, saying, “the Clinton campaign couldn’t have scripted anything better; it was a hashtag waiting to happen!” She says, “It’s become a rallying cry for feminists; they’ve reappropriated the insult and wear it as a badge of honor.”
Runde couldn’t agree more. She believes the reclaiming of the epithet on social media has allowed women to create power out of disempowerment, celebrating their “nastiness.” “To self-label as a ‘nasty woman’ is to acknowledge prejudice and to proudly proclaim non-conformity to restrictive standards,” said Runde, who will perform tonight with the Sphincter Troupe, a feminist political comedy sketch group, at their “Nasty Women” show.
“It is to laugh in the face of that prejudice, and sometimes, that’s all you can do.”
The Impossible Election
In her commencement speech at Wellesley in 1969, before she was Secretary Clinton, HRC, Hillz, Hil(liar)y, or simply Hillary, Hillary Diane Rodham told her graduating class, “the challenge now is to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible possible.”
Many things that seemed impossible are now quite possible. A thrice-married tycoon was chosen as the evangelical standard bearer in a primary landslide, from a field of 17, including senators and governors. The Speaker of the House has refused to continue campaigning with his party’s candidate. A self-proclaimed “Democratic Socialist” gave an establishment candidate a run for her money that ultimately threatened to split the Democratic convention. And a woman is running for president.
In 1966, then-Yale student Murray Lerner attempted to chronicle life as an undergraduate in his film, “To Be a Man.” As sociologist Jerome Karabel observes in his history of college admissions, “The Chosen,” Yale prided itself more on its ability to mold men of character than on the academic caliber of its students. Instead of SAT scores, the admissions process examined such qualities as “‘industry,’ ‘persistence,’ ‘self-discipline,’ ‘sense of responsibility’ and … ‘ability to participate in group activities.’” If a young man from Phillips Andover fit the bill, he was in.
Today, the notion of a quintessential “Yale Man” is laughable. In the late ’60s, when the University made the long-overdue decision to include women and more minority and low-income students, the “Yale ethos” dissolved as a result of an increasingly diverse student body.
Fast forward to 2016, and one would be hard pressed to find two people on our campus whose definition of“Yalie” is the same. This is undoubtedly a positive development. At the same time, though, it leaves us without a clear ideal to which to aspire. We as Yalies lose the coherent identity that our forbearers shared. This phenomenon is not limited to Yale, but continues to play out around the world. As institutions and nations open up, we face the challenge of redefining what it means to belong to a community.
Take a Wall Street Journal article from this month that details a recent crisis at the Monte dei Paschi bank in Siena, Italy. Founded in 1472, the bank has been a staple of the community and the local economy in Siena for centuries. However, because the firm can no longer compete with larger, multinational conglomerates, it has had to dramatically reduce operations and cut jobs. Residents of Siena have not only seen their savings evaporate and their livelihoods disappear, but they have also witnessed the dislocation of what was once the center of their city. As more players enter the game, people become dislocated. Just as the changes of the 1960s challenged Yale men of yore, the transnational flows of capital have remade Siena.
In the United States, middle-aged white men who came of age in a workplace tailored to their preferences and needs now face competition from a wide variety of historically underrepresented demographic groups. Depression and suicide rates have skyrocketed among these men, who feel disoriented by the new and more egalitarian workplace.
This sense of disorientation explains the rise of Donald Trump (yes, all roads lead to Trump). He has channeled the frustration of people whose local institutions — be they steel mines or automobile factories — have collapsed or transformed under the weight of an open world. In a time of rapid change, he has successfully harnessed the potent force of reactionary politics.
What Trump and his supporters fail to recognize is that the openness they bemoan has created prosperity around the world. As a direct consequence of the decline of the American manufacturing sector, subsistence farmers in Southeast Asia have been able to make dramatically better lives for themselves working in cities. And men who bemoan the new workplace ignore the fact that women and minorities only recently acquired access to those workplaces.
For better or for worse, Yalies are among those who benefit most from globalization. We have the skills to navigate a decentralized world. Yet we ought to sympathize with those whose lives have been disrupted and destabilized by globalization.
As the beneficiaries of this transformation, we must ensure that we address the concerns of communities displaced by global forces. It is our responsibility to rework the American narrative, and broaden the horizons of what it means to be a citizen.
We as a nation ought to be good at this. In his seminal text, “Democracy in America,” Alexis de Tocqueville argued that in the 18th century, the radical equality of the United States undercut Europe’s centuries-old, aristocratic values. People felt threatened by a new and more egalitarian political economy. But Tocqueville noted that the decline of Ancient Regime values was redeemed by “the picture of one vast democracy in which … all mankind can be seen together in broad daylight.”
In many ways, we face the same challenges as Americans did in the time of Tocqueville. Out of our newfound openness, we must shape a thriving and coherent community.
Daniel Tenreiro-Braschi is a sophomore in Ezra Stiles College. His column usually runs on alternate Wednesdays. Contact him at email@example.com .
Correction, Oct. 27: Due to an editing error, a previous version of the column omitted the final paragraph online. The current column now reflects the print edition.
A common tactic of politicians running for office is to make it seem like America is in dire need of drastic change. Donald Trump, for example, has positioned his entire campaign around the idea that America is “losing.” Yet by nearly every account, our country is stronger, more equitable and more prosperous today than ever before. American unemployment has steadily declined since 2009 and now hovers around 5 percent. American students are graduating high school at a higher rate than ever before, with a national graduation rate of 82 percent and a progressively shrinking achievement gap between white, black and Hispanic students. Since 2007, over 20 million more Americans have the comfort and security of health insurance.
We are, in many ways, in a very good place right now. Because of that, we should dare to view our politics through an idealistic lens.
Idealism means believing that our next president will achieve her agenda, with or without a Democratic Congress. Even if Republicans hold the House of Representatives (nearly guaranteed) and the Senate (possible), we should calibrate our expectations of our elected representatives with an optimistic, not cynical, attitude toward Congress. At its best, Congress’ two parties engage in a vigorous contest of ideas, a contest whose goal isn’t gridlock but rather compromise. As difficult as it may be, we should hold our congressmen and congresswomen to that standard. The coming climate in Washington, D.C. can, should and will be different and better than the present one.
Idealism means working toward incremental change while keeping our eyes set firmly on a perfect future, even if that perfect future is asymptotic. For example, we should celebrate how many American students, especially those from minority and low-income backgrounds, are graduating public high school and enrolling in college. Yet we shouldn’t just settle for small improvements. Instead, let’s imagine a country with no difference between the educational outcomes of any particular demographic of students. Even though free community college is a reality for millions of Americans today, we should be unafraid to envision a country in which every American student who wants a four-year college education can access one.
In practice, that means creating a culture in which high schools, especially those in struggling communities, refuse to remain satisfied with merely handing out a diploma. Instead of focusing on the end result, we should insist that high school is merely a step toward real, tangible upward mobility for every American. It means daring to ease our reliance on vocational or technical education as the goal for minority and low-income students and instead having faith that all children — no matter their skin color, their household income, zip code or family situation — have a right to a comprehensive, liberating education.
Idealism means reaffirming our faith that individuals can, in fact, make other people’s lives better. At Yale, it means having the freedom to aim for an unknown professional future and the courage to reject the notion that college — even an elite one like ours — should merely prepare one for specific employment. It means committing to a life of service to others — no matter the what industry — even if that life might stray from the highest earnings or most prestigious titles.
Finally, and most importantly, idealism means believing in a new, aspirational, poetic version of the American story, one by which, as Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 says, our greatest monument on this earth isn’t what we build, but the lives we touch. Now, more than ever, there’s plenty of reason to understand that our union is quickly and confidently becoming more perfect. In a few short weeks, we will both make history and prove to the world that America is a fair-minded and big-hearted country. We will attempt to build on the progress this country has made by furthering a more inclusive, more agile and more effective American politics. We will reaffirm that America’s goodness makes it a city upon a hill.
Now, more than ever and in so many different respects, we should replace our dogged pragmatism with idealism. Now, we can afford to take that leap.
Emil Friedman is a freshman in Silliman College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Despite ongoing campus discussions about free speech, Yale remains deeply unwelcoming to students with conservative political beliefs, according to a News survey distributed earlier this month.
Nearly 75 percent of 2,054 respondents who completed the survey — representing views across the political spectrum — said they believe Yale does not provide a welcoming environment for conservative students to share their opinions on political issues. Among the 11.86 percent of respondents who described themselves as either “conservative” or “very conservative,” the numbers are even starker: Nearly 95 percent said the Yale community does not welcome their opinions. About two-thirds of respondents who described themselves as “liberal” or “very liberal” said Yale is not welcoming to conservative students.
“Anybody who supports Donald Trump or is a Republican is just hated,” said one respondent, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of backlash from liberal students. “I just get the general vibe that Republicans aren’t respected for their beliefs as much as maybe the liberal people are.”
More than 60 percent of the 103 Yale students supporting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said they are “uncomfortable” or “very uncomfortable” discussing their political beliefs at Yale.
The 2,054 respondents make up 37.58 percent of Yale’s undergraduate population, and results have not been adjusted for bias.
By contrast, more than 98 percent of respondents said Yale is welcoming to students with liberal beliefs. And among students who described themselves as “liberal” or “very liberal,” 85 percent said they are “comfortable” or “very comfortable” sharing their political views in campus discussions.
In an interview with the News, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway said the results of the survey were lamentable but unsurprising. Holloway attributed conservative students’ discomfort at sharing their views partly to the pervasiveness of social media.
“So much of your generation’s world is managed through smart phones. There’s no margin anymore for saying something stupid,” Holloway said. “People have been saying dumb things forever, but when I was your age word of mouth would take a while. Now it’s instantaneous, now context is stripped away.”
Holloway added that Yale is one of many liberal arts universities where conservative views are highly unpopular, noting that in election years the political environment can become especially heated.
According to a 2015 article in the Harvard Crimson’s weekly magazine, many conservative students at Harvard College feel like their political opinions are neither respected nor appreciated. And in a recent article in The College Fix, a right-leaning online news outlet, a student at Columbia said that he feared he would be “physically assaulted” if he displayed conservative images or slogans on his clothing.
Still, Karl Notturno ’17, an outspoken Trump supporter, said he feels comfortable discussing his beliefs, even though he agrees that overall Yale is unwelcoming to conservative viewpoints.
“I have been very honest for most of my life. I’m not going to change myself to what others want me to be,” Notturno said. “I’m a little bit of an anomaly, but most Trump supporters I know don’t feel comfortable talking about it.”
Kevin Olteanu ’19, a member of the conservative William F. Buckley, Jr. Program, said his views make him a “rebel in the crowd” who keeps conversations in his friend group interesting.
Scott Smith ’18 said that while he would be considered a liberal outside of Yale, he is more conservative than most students on campus. Smith said his views have grown more conservative over the course of his time at the University.
“I think on social issues I’ve become somewhat less liberal mainly because of how incredibly liberal Yale is,” Smith said. “I’m not a fan of going along with the majority on everything. I think I’ve been pushing back against all of that mainly because it’s just frustrating to see only one viewpoint being expressed, and expressed loudly.”
But not all conservative Yalies feel as comfortable outside of the majority. Grant Richardson ’19 said it sometimes feels “intimidating” to voice conservative opinions during discussion sections.
Claire Williamson ’17 said it became harder to express conservative viewpoints during the controversies surrounding Calhoun College and the title“master” last fall. Students who did not hold the “popular vocal opinion” of renaming the college and changing the title were seen not only as wrong, she said, but as bad people.
“I would say it’s a frustrating Catch-22 to be a conservative-leaning moderate or conservative on campus,” Williamson said. “You’re sort of airing your own political views and trying to talk about them with the risk that someone disagrees with you to the point of assuming you’re an immoral person because of them. You either stay silent or you risk alienating some of your friends and groups around you.”
Still, political science lecturer Jim Sleeper ’69 said unwritten rules about when one should and should not share controversial opinions have existed for decades and are “woven into the fabric” of the University.
“Some of what we call self-censorship is necessary and good,” he said. “What you disagree about productively depends on certain things you agree not to disagree about. Civility requires self-restraint.”
Clarification (Oct. 27): Describing the statement he initially provided the News as unintentionally unclear, Dean Jonathan Holloway issued the following: “In no way did I intend to imply that the views of any student or faculty were stupid or should be dismissed. I meant to lament the fact that meaningful conversations were too often reduced or misconstrued in the shortened messages of social media, leading to a lack of understanding. I apologize if my words were misconstrued and taken to mean anything otherwise.”
A college tea earlier this week drew nearly the entire Linguistics Department.
Ben Zimmer ’92, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal and recipient of the Linguistic Society of America’s first Linguistics Journalism award, returned to Davenport College — his residential college — to discuss his unique career as a language journalist.
Zimmer spent his time in New Haven studying linguistics, Indonesian and writing for the News. Currently, he is also the executive editor of vocabulary.com, a learning tool for new vocabulary and member of the Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.
“Stories [are] waiting to be told, and I wanted to find ways to tell them,” Zimmer said to the crowd as he explained his journey from academia to journalism.
Despite the esoteric nature of his work, he drew a large crowd: Before he began speaking, his audience moved to the Davenport common room because the head of college’s house could not fit everyone. Richard Schottenfeld, head of Davenport College, told the crowd that this was only the second time he remembers having to relocate the listeners from his house due to exceptional interest.
Some people present at the talk, like Darcy Chanin ’20, did not know what to expect as they were not familiar with Zimmer’s career. She said she attended the talk because she took a class in linguistics and was interested in the field. A large portion of the crowd comprised faculty and students from the Linguistics Department.
In his talk, Zimmer characterized his current work as a language journalist as determining the origins and evolution of words and phrases that lead to their recent usages. Elaborating on his passion for this line of investigation, he said that he cannot resist wanting to know where words come from.
Many topics Zimmer touched upon were controversial, including his involvement in choosing the singular pronoun “they” as the word of the year for 2015, the definition of marriage during and after the campaign for marriage equality and the term “upstander” coined by Samantha Power ’92 — also a Davenport alumna — and how two high school girls campaigned to have “upstander” be included in the dictionary. Zimmer defined “upstander” to be the opposite of bystander.
Much to the audience’s delight, Zimmer also touched upon the controversy of “big league” versus “bigly” in Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s general speech pattern. To settle the social media debate, linguists have analyzed the phonetics of Trump’s speech and decided that he actually says “big league,” according to an article published by The New York Times two days ago.
Not all of the talk was politically charged, though. Zimmer cheerfully shared his attempts at analyzing the lyrics of “I Am The Walrus” by the Beatles, and traced the famous lyric “goo goo g’ joob” to a court case between the makers of Betty Boop and Helen Kane on the rights for the phrase “Boop-Oop-a-Doop.”
“Utter nonsense can have its own kind of story to it, and it can cross cultural boundaries, racial boundaries,” Zimmer said.
For Zimmer, his special brand of language journalism is unique because he is not just “spouting opinions.” He said he differentiates himself from a language commentator by the “rigorous research” that goes into his articles and that he strives to remain objective on a subject as elusive as language itself.
Zimmer said that in studying words and phrases, he is tracing elements that have longer and more complicated histories than the average speaker is aware of. However, his main goal is not to persuade readers of his own opinions but rather to conduct objective research.
“I am not there to say these people are using this word incorrectly,” Zimmer said. “I can form an opinion about it, but based on real evidence.”
In 1969, the same year Yale College went coed, a young woman entered Yale Law School. Like many of us, she was an idealist: She took on child abuse cases and provided free legal advice to the poor. Like many of us, she was a go-getter who worked at the Child Study Center and conducted research on migrant labor. Long before she became Secretary of State Hillary Clinton LAW ’73, Hillary Diane Rodham was working to make our country a better place. Almost four decades later, the News is proud to endorse her for president.
We do not endorse Clinton solely because of the disqualifying flaws of her opponent, Donald Trump, whose campaign has disgusted and astonished our board. Indeed, our endorsement of Clinton should come as no surprise: A recent survey conducted by the News found that a vast majority of students support her candidacy. We endorse her because we, as young people, recognize this election is a turning point for our country. And the choice couldn’t be more clear.
Voting for Clinton is our obligation to ourselves and to future generations. Hillary Clinton has a long history of public service, and has demonstrated unwavering dedication to progressive values. She knows what it means to fight — for America and for Americans. In her long career in government, she has embodied a value elemental to both our institution and our nation: an abiding commitment to public service. In the words of none other than the Republican nominee: “She doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up.”
Do not be lulled into complacency by the opinion polls: On the eve of Brexit, most predicted the “Remain” campaign would prevail. The best way to quash Trump’s bullying and bigotry is to elect Clinton in a landslide and prove that he cannot corrupt our finest values.
Perhaps you voted for someone else in the primary. Perhaps you’re a die-hard conservative, who cannot stomach Trump but will never vote for liberal policies. Or perhaps you just haven’t gotten around to registering to vote. If you are tempted to abstain or to cast a protest vote, remember: Compromise is not a sign of weakness, just as thoughtless dogmatism is not a sign of strength. The ability to make difficult trade-offs is a core value of both our democracy and our liberal arts education.
Campus conversation should shape our political priorities as Yale students in this election. Every day, Yale invites and demands ethical reflection from its students. As a community, we struggle for racial justice, debate the student income contribution and aspire toward a campus culture that affirms gender equality and sexual respect.
Clinton’s agenda reflects our own anxieties and hopes — for these issues and others. Her ends are bold, but her means are pragmatic. She will address our nation’s student debt crisis by ensuring every student can graduate debt-free from a public college in their state. She will continue the fight for racial justice by combating discrimination in policing and reforming our criminal justice system. She will act against the scourge of climate change by investing in clean energy. And she will give women, working families and queer people the respect they deserve.
Regardless of what happens on Election Day, life will all but certainly go on at Yale. But not too far from our campus, elementary schoolchildren could wake up fretting that their parents will be deported. Teenage girls could wake up wondering if it is okay for a man to touch them inappropriately and judge them by how they look. Trump voters could wake up euphoric, only to be let down by a president who exploited their stories and struggles to win their votes yet has no concrete plans to improve their lives.
We could elect a candidate who has spent her life fighting for the rights of all Americans, or we could elect a candidate who has threatened to throw his opponent in jail. We could elect the first female president, or we could elect a man who has openly bragged about perpetrating sexual assault. We could elect a seasoned leader who will confront any foreign policy threat with experience and restraint, or we could give a volatile provocateur access to the nuclear codes.
Like the young woman who arrived in New Haven in 1969, we have the power to realize a different future. That power lies in our vote. Let’s use it to elect Hillary Clinton.
Members of the Managing Board of 2018 who have worked on either presidential campaign recused themselves from the conception and execution of this editorial.