Coming off of last season’s impressive second-place finish at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships, the No. 21 Yale women’s cross country team will travel to Princeton hoping to improve on last year’s results.
Yale will send 13 runners to the West Windsor Fields course in Princeton, which has a six-kilometer track on which all eight teams in the Ivy League will compete against each other for the first time this year. The Bulldogs’ first-place finishes at the Fordham Fiasco, Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet, Paul Short Run and the Central Connecticut State Mini-meet last weekend make the Elis a strong favorite heading into the conference title race.
“Given the extraordinary body of work we have put in over the summer and throughout the season, we are all prepared to have exceptional performances,” Kelli Reagan ’18 said. “Our main focus going into the race will be to remain relaxed and to successfully execute our race plan, just as we have been doing all season.”
Yale has the highest national ranking of any Ivy League team, followed by No. 24 Penn and No. 26 Harvard. The regular season has shown that the Bulldogs are capable of performing in a way that reflects this ranking, as the Elis have beaten the other teams in the Ivy League at every meet so far this season.
Particularly encouraging is the strong performance of the Elis at the at the Paul Short Run, which was held on the same track as the one on which they will race this weekend. At this meet, which took place on Oct. 1, Yale won by a significant margin, finishing with a score 27 points lower than the runner-up, Georgetown, and 35 points lower than Penn, which claimed third place.
“The fact that the track is the same as HYP this year is definitely an advantage,” captain Frances Schmiede ’17 said. “We did well there, which will help calm any nerves going in. Obviously the pace will be faster, but I think the race will play out in a similar way.”
The Bulldogs will continue to focus on running in packs, a strategy that they have implemented all season. The Elis have excelled using the technique this year, with the spread between the top scorer and the crucial fifth scorer never exceeding 30 seconds. The largest margin between scoring runners was a 28-second spread at the Paul Short Run early in the season.
“We are such a uniquely cohesive team and our ability to work together has really propelled us through the season,” Emily Barnes ’17 said. “Heps is a really unique race where the entire focus is on picking off bodies and taking places, but at the same time, we have had great success with keeping the focus on ourselves and our own team.”
The Elis had a strong performance at the Heps last year: Their second place finish was the highest since 2002. At the meet, Schmiede and Dana Klein ’18, both of whom will travel to Princeton this weekend, finished in seventh and eighth place, respectively. Five other runners who will compete this weekend — Barnes, Reagan, Ellie Atkinson ’19, Andrea Masterson ’19 and Meredith Rizzo ’18 — also ran at the championships last year.
This year, after an impressive regular season, the expectation for the Bulldogs is high. At the same time, both Scheide and Reagan stressed that the team will approach the race with the same mindset that they would bring to a middle-of-the-season contest.
“While Heps is obviously an important race for pride in the Ivy League, it is just another step toward our ultimate goal of competing as a nationally ranked team through the end of the season,” Reagan said.
As the home stretch approaches, the Yale volleyball team has its eyes set on once again claiming the Ivy League title — a trophy it has claimed six times in the past eight years. To do so, the Bulldogs may need to sweep the remainder of its games, including matchups this weekend against two gritty opponents.
The Elis (13–4, 6–2 Ivy) trail only undefeated Princeton atop the Ivy League standings heading into Friday’s game against a confident, surging Cornell team (9–9, 3–5). Revenge will be on the minds of the Bulldogs on Saturday night, when they host Columbia (10–8, 5–3), a team which handed Yale its first conference loss of the season in a dramatic five-set nail-biter in New York on Sept. 30.
“If we want to contend for the Ivy League championship, we have to win the rest of our games,” head coach Erin Appleman said. “We’re at home, and we’re at home for four of the six [remaining conference] competitions … so we have to take care of business at home and then go on the road at the end of the year [to vie for the title].”
Although Yale handled Cornell 3–1 in Ithaca early this month, the Big Red is a legitimate threat in its own right. A day after a close five-set loss at Dartmouth on Oct. 14, Cornell overcame a 9–1 fifth-set deficit at Harvard to topple the Crimson 15–12. That momentum carried over to last Friday, when the relentless Big Red vanquished Columbia, led by right-side hitter Kit McCarty, who notched 16 kills.
Cornell is indeed no stranger to long matches, as it has played the most sets in conference competition of any Ivy League team.
“Going to five sets so many times is indicative of our mental state in matches,” Cornell head coach Trudy Vande Berg said. “Beating Harvard on the road really got that monkey off our back. … This team is starting to feel confidence in [its] ability to win, [but] we know that there isn’t a match in the Ivies that won’t be an all-out battle.”
The Big Red’s first matchup with Yale was one such clash. Cornell actually outperformed the Bulldogs in all major statistical categories, but strong defense from libero Kate Swanson ’19 and a nearly flawless attack from outside hitter Kelley Wirth ’19 overcame this deficit. The Elis bookended the victory with extremely efficient sets, hitting 0.429 and 0.438 in the first and fourth sets, respectively. Vande Berg attributed her team’s loss to Yale to a lack of execution in key moments, and said her team was “tentative.”
In that contest, Cornell’s senior setter, Alyssa Phelps, posted a match-high 49 assists. If she maintains her high-level play this weekend, she will put her name in the Ivy League record books as the 20th player in conference history with 3,000 career assists.
Although it faltered against Cornell last Friday, Columbia, too, is a formidable opponent. Yale’s only five-set match of the conference season came against the Lions, who outmuscled the Bulldogs at the net in the first two sets to create what was ultimately an insurmountable advantage. Freshman middle blocker Chichi Ikwuazom racked up six kills and three block assists in the opening two frames, while the Elis committed more errors than kills over the same stretch. Columbia finished with 14 total blocks, eight more than the Bulldogs.
Ikwuazom, the reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Week, has dominated all year at the net, leading the conference with 1.41 blocks per set; the next closest player, Darmouth’s Kaira Lujan, averages only 1.07 rejections. Ikwuazom also leads the Ancient Eight with a sweltering 0.439 hitting percentage. Complementing this offensive firepower is the reigning Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year, Cassie Wes, who ranks sixth in the nation with 5.33 digs per set.
“I think in the matches that we’ve lost, in the sets that we’ve lost, it’s really been about us not performing where we need to perform,” Appleman said. “We’re really concentrating on us and our side of the net [to] figure out what we can do to continue a high level of play all the time.”
Maintaining that consistency has been a focus for a Yale team on the cusp of the highest caliber of play of the conference. After quickly dispatching Brown in the first two sets last Friday, Yale struggled to keep the ball in the court in a 25–19 third-set loss. The Bulldogs continued to look shaky in the fourth frame but were ultimately able to avoid a fifth set and secure yet another home conference victory, the team’s 44th such win in 45 matches dating back to 2010.
Appleman cited the team’s youth as a possible contributor to these lapses, and hoped that the Bulldogs would be able to maintain the focus necessary to compete in as many sets are needed against their upcoming opponents.
“We always have a sense of urgency when playing any team,” setter Kelsey Crawford ’18 said. “Our game plan is to focus on one game at a time and control what we do and how we perform.”
The match against Cornell will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, and the contest with Columbia will tip off at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
While students and alumni cheered on the Yale football team at the Yale Bowl for Friday night’s game against Penn, parents and fans were able to watch the Bulldogs from the comfort of their living rooms.
In late August, the Ivy League Digital Network, a nine-channel network that live streams 34 Ivy League sports, expanded its partnership with NeuLion to include a streaming application for televisions. With the increase in coverage, Ivy League institutions are now able to broadcast live sports coverage through the ILDN application on AppleTV and Roku digital media players.
According to Ivy League Assistant Executive Director of Digital Media & Communications Matthew Panto, the decision to expand coverage was a unanimous decision of the league office, its member institutions and its network provider, NeuLion.
“Since the launch of ILDN over three years ago, many fans around the League have expressed their desire to be able to watch ILDN through a big screen experience,” Panto said. “Partnering with Apple TV and Roku gives the Ivy League the ability to reach out to that audience and a chance to watch ILDN through their platform preference.”
According to Associate Athletics Director of Strategic Communications at Columbia Alex Oberweger who used to work on the Ivy League Strategic Communications Committee, the League’s partnership with NeuLion began five years ago when the conference decided to create a single network to stream all eight institution’s athletic programs. Before the establishment of ILDN in 2013, each school had its own streaming platform.
In a press release, Executive Director of the Ivy League Robin Harris said the new partnership will continue the success of the ILDN and give fans more viewing options.
There will be no additional costs for the upgrade. Currently, an annual subscription to the ILDN costs $119.95.
Director of Multimedia and Production for Harvard Athletics Imry Halevi said the addition of the new applications is a direct result of feedback the League’s institutions received from their viewers.
“As technology continues to grow and expand, people want to be able to watch content wherever they are and on whatever platform they are using at any given moment,” Halevi said.
Oberweger agreed that fans and alumni, before the addition of AppleTV and Roku ILDN apps, were forced to watch games and matches on iPads, iPhones and computers on the HTML5 platform, which could be inconvenient. He said with the addition of the applications, fans who prefer to stream Ivy League athletics on their living room televisions are able to do so.
According to the Director of Dartmouth Varsity Athletics Communications Rick Bender, all eight Ivy schools were involved in the discussions of expansion throughout the process.
“The league is doing all it can to make the digital network and everything good about athletics in the Ivy League more accessible to sports fans,” Associate Athletics Director of Sports Publicity Steve Conn said. “Any other platforms that we can get our student athletes on is good for anybody.”
Bender said many people have already told him how excited they are to have ILDN on AppleTV and Roku and said he believes the ILDN television application legitimizes the Ivy League’s network.
“Folks will be more likely to delve into the ILDN, see the quality at which we are broadcasting our events and more likely subscribe to the network,” Bender said.
Despite more than an hour of quality play Saturday against one of the Ivy League’s best teams, a controversial call eliminated the Yale women’s soccer team from Ivy League championship contention Saturday.
The Bulldogs (5–6–3, 1–3–1 Ivy) came into their matchup with Penn (8–3–2, 2–2–1) in the middle of the conference pack and in desperate need of a win to avoid relegation to the bottom of the league. After 78 minutes of scoreless competition, Penn finally broke through off a corner kick to take a 1–0 lead. Minutes later, the Elis thought they had tied the game after forward Aerial Chavarin ’20 found the back of the net — except the referee called the ball in possession of Quaker keeper, Kitty Qu. That agonizing moment spelled the end for Yale, which could not find the equalizer in the final moments, dropping the team out of contention for the Ancient Eight title.
“You just feel bad for the kids,” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “The players worked so hard to get the goal and to have it be taken away was very frustrating. There was a point where I thought I might get ejected I was so upset. I felt it was criminal for the kids. We will be fighting with the Ivy League offices going forward trying to get instant replay.”
Before the game, the Bulldogs stood tied in fourth place in the Ivy League, knotted with four other squads. Despite facing daunting odds, the Elis were not yet mathematically precluded from claiming the conference crown. In addition to more than a little outside help, Yale needed to win its remaining three games, including Saturday afternoon’s clash with the Quakers.
The first half featured little by the way of offense. Penn took just six shots — none of which were on target — and the Bulldogs only managed two. Against a Quaker squad that had on four occasions scored at least four goals, the Yale defense seemed to be holding its own. Moreover, the Bulldogs held fast on both first-period corner kicks, an area that had caused them trouble throughout the season. When the whistle blew and the teams trotted off to the locker rooms, the 0–0 score remained intact, and the Elis’ dreams of surviving another day did not seem so far-fetched.
Once the second half commenced, both teams turned up the heat. The Bulldogs fired three shots in the first seven minutes, including a 51st-minute attempt from midfielder Geneva Decker ’17 that Qu tipped up and off the crossbar. The Quakers and Elis each exchanged shots until the final 15 minutes. In the 79th minute, Penn won a corner kick that found the waiting feet of midfielder Emily Sands, who launched a shot past Yale goalie Alyssa Fagel ’20 to break the deadlock.
“I think sometimes we just lose focus [on set pieces],” captain and defender Colleen McCormack ’17 said. “They’re a natural pause in the game but not an excuse for a mental break. When you take one, you suffer the consequences.”
Now down a goal, the Elis set out to right the ship in the waning moments of the game. With its season on the line, Yale turned to its leading goal scorer this season, Chavarin, for some last-minute heroics.
At first, it appeared Chavarin had answered the call. After Qu blocked her shot, she seemingly dribbled the loose ball into the back of the net. However, the referee waived off the goal in debatable fashion.
“Sarah [McCauley ’18] played a beautiful ball to me, and I trapped it and tried to chip it,” Chavarin said. “[Qu] got her hands on it and hit it against the post. The ball was free, and I ran after it and scored, but the ref said the ball was in her hands [before I kicked it]. It was really disappointing.”
Meredith erupted on the sideline, livid at the call, yet it failed to inspire a comeback. The 1–0 margin held for the final 10 minutes, and Yale tallied its third conference loss, stripping the Bulldogs of any hope of an Ivy League title.
Now in fifth place in the conference with just two games to play, the Elis will have to find a way to compete with league-leader Columbia and third-place Brown before turning to the offseason. Despite the dejection the players surely feel, the Bulldogs will look to dust themselves off and set the tone for the 2017 campaign.
“I think the morale is good, actually,” Chavarin said. “We know we can’t win the Ivies or go to the NCAA tournament, so we’re just working on getting ready for next year when we’ll hopefully do both of those things.”
The Elis will play their final home game of 2016 on Saturday against Columbia. The match will kick off at 4 p.m.
After falling 2–0 in a midweek loss to Big Ten goliath No. 20 Michigan State on Wednesday, the Yale men’s soccer team returned to New Haven looking to build a modest conference win streak against Penn on Saturday.
A week removed from their first Ivy League victory in over two years — a 3–0 win over bottom-of-the-league Cornell — the Elis (2–7–2, 1–2–1 Ivy) failed to capitalize on any momentum and fell 3–0 to an overpowering Quaker (4–5–2, 2–2–0) team. Despite a strong start, the Bulldogs started out eventually succumbed to Penn’s offensive efficiency in the lopsided loss.
“We created enough chances to score goals, but ultimately you have to put balls in the back of the net,” head coach Kylie Stannard said. “We didn’t make plays tonight … I’m always proud of these guys when it comes to how they fight but we weren’t sharp and I thought Penn was better.”
Yale attacked immediately after the initial whistle. The Elis earned their first corner kick in the second minute of the game, on which midfielder Nicky Downs ’19 sent a curling cross into the heart of the box to a soaring Kyle Kenagy ’19. The forward headed the ball past the goalie, but his shot was too high, smashing off the crossbar and away from the net. Just over two minutes later, the tide shifted as Penn midfielder Dami Omitaomu slotted home an easy finish off a pass from defenseman Eremuse Momoh.
This marked the second time this season that Yale has conceded a goal within the first six minutes of a match. Against Lafayette on Sept. 17, the Elis found themselves at a one-goal disadvantage only 3:07 in and went on to lose 2–0.
“It was tough giving up a goal early [against Penn], one we thought we should have prevented,” midfielder Lucas Kirby ’19 said.
Yale earned three more corner kicks in the five minutes succeeding the opening goal. Downs connected with Kenagy once again on the Elis’ third corner of the day, but his header was blocked before it reached the goal. Penn forbid the Bulldogs from getting their heads on either of the other two corners.
The Bulldogs’ offense sputtered thereafter, seldom threatening at a goal in the remaining 35 minutes of the first half. Yale allowed Penn a second goal in the 30th minute, when Quakers midfielder Gideon Metrikin struck off of a laser from distance.
The score remained 2–0 as both teams entered their locker rooms at the half.
Twenty minutes into the second half, Penn scored its third unanswered goal to all but eliminate Yale’s chances for a comeback. While the Elis held the Quakers to just one shot from that point on, Yale only mustered two shots of its own in the remaining 25 minutes.
The Quakers were far more efficient with their chances, as every shot they took was on-target. While the Elis took 11 shots, five more than their opponents, only four of those found their way on-target compared to Penn’s six.
“Throughout the game we had the most chances,” defenseman Justin Lobe ’20 said. “We could have converted quite a few and it just came down to focusing in our final third and their final third. The few chances they got they could convert, and the few chances we got we couldn’t convert.”
Despite this loss, the Elis still remain ahead of Princeton and Cornell in the Ivy League standings. The Tigers, currently mired in a 0–3–1 record, will be Yale’s last challenge of the season. A final sixth place standing in the Ancient Eight would be the Bulldogs’ highest since 2013, its last multi-win conference season.
Yale will play its penultimate nonconference match on Tuesday against Hartford before returning home to face Columbia on Saturday.
Despite dropping its 2–0 halftime lead, the Yale field hockey team persevered to emerge victorious against Penn in a hard-fought overtime contest on Saturday at Johnson Field.
With the memory of their win over Dartmouth still fresh in their minds, the Bulldogs (6–8, 2–3 Ivy) took to the field this past weekend anticipating a difficult challenge against Ivy League rival Penn (9–5, 3–2). The Elis led 2–0 going into the first half, but were unable to maintain their lead as the Quakers scored two goals in quick succession before the final whistle. The game was sent into a dramatic overtime period, which Bulldog captain and midfielder Steffi Katz ’17 ended with a powerful goal, earning Yale its first victory over the Quakers since 2011.
“I think we played good, aggressive hockey and were really resilient [today],” head coach Pam Stuper said. “We’ve been in a really good place, and I think that the Dartmouth win was big for us. Scoring [seven] goals got everyone believing we can generate attack, and we came out hard to start [against Penn], which was exactly what we intended to do. We followed the game plan and scored the two goals.”
Despite allowing Penn to snatch two quick penalty corners in the first few minutes of the game, the Bulldogs claimed the majority of possession in the first half. Forward Bridget Condie ’20 drew a penalty corner in the 15th minute of the contest, which fellow attacker Allie Carrigan ’19 converted into the first score of the match and her fifth goal on the season.
Forward Carol Middough ’18, the team leader with eight goals in 2016, contributed the second of the Bulldogs’ regulation-time strikes off a slick pass from forward Danee Fitzgerald ’17. Middough received the ball on her reverse stick and swung powerfully, sending in a backhand shot past Penn netminder Liz Mata. Middough once again spearheaded Yale’s offense, claiming four of the Elis’ 13 shots on goal.
“I was trying to get a corner but nobody went for the ball, so I just took the shot and it went in,” Middough said. “I think this is our [second] game this season we had to go into overtime, so it’s definitely great to have not given up and to finish with a win.”
But the Quakers soon took control of the second half by firing in two masterful penalty corner goals in less than two minutes to level the scoreboard. The Bulldog defense struggled to find the outlet passes that had previously given the team so much time on the ball, and the Eli attackers followed an eight-shot first half with just two shots in the final 35 minutes of regulation.
The Penn offense, on the other hand, took 11 shots in the half and had three opportunities to take a one-goal lead in the final six minutes of regulation. Eli goalkeeper Emilie Katz ’17 was called upon to make a dive with just two minutes left on the clock, denying Quaker forward Sofia Palacios’ sixth shot on goal and sending the match into overtime.
“At halftime we talked about how … Penn is a team that does not quit. They’re not going to sit back and just pack it in, and so [the goals] didn’t surprise me,” Stuper said. “I was a little frustrated with the second one coming so quickly, but [Penn is] a good team, and we know what it’s capable of. I thought our players showed tremendous resilience in the second half … and they were confident going into overtime because we practice it every week.”
As the weather grew progressively wetter and windier, the game became more intense and difficult. The field opened up with only six players and a goalie allowed for each side in overtime, placing a massive workload on players chasing the ball. The action flew back and forth between the two ends of the field, with each team attempting several shots.
But in the end, it was Steffi Katz who delivered the deciding blow. Fitzgerald collected the ball off a rebound from one of her own shots and passed it quickly across to Katz, who was waiting in front of the goal. The captain took a rapid-fire forehand volley and snapped the ball into the back of the net, securing the Elis’ first victory over Penn in five seasons and its second conference win in a row.
“We were physically able to overcome our exhaustion when we went into overtime, and we felt the momentum because we had reconnected towards the end of the second half,” midfielder Marissa Medici ’19 said. “We kept each other positive, and I think that was key. It made the biggest difference in this game.”
With the win, Yale improved to 2–3 in conference play, cementing the team in a four-way tie for fourth place in the Ancient Eight. The Bulldogs will continue their slate of home competition next weekend as they host Columbia on Saturday at 12 p.m.
The stage was set on Friday for the Yale football team: After starting 0–3, the Bulldogs gutted out a win over defending conference champion Dartmouth and put themselves in a position to beat Penn to seize second-place in the Ivy League standings. Yet it was the Quakers who had the last laugh once the curtains closed, serving the Bulldogs a 42–7 defeat under the lights at the Yale Bowl.
The Penn (4–2, 3–0 Ivy) offense imposed its will on Yale (1–5, 1–2) through the air and on the ground. Quaker quarterback Alek Torgersen threw for 229 yards and four touchdowns, while top wideout Justin Watson reeled in three of those touchdowns along with a career-high 166 yards. Penn running back Tre Solomon, who entered the game leading the league in rushing, added 120 yards on the ground in addition to 66 from Torgersen.
Yale’s attack followed the same formula as in weeks past. The run game was bolstered by 118 yards from Alan Lamar ’20, but quarterback Tre Moore ’19 struggled to connect with his receivers, totaling just 93 passing yards along with a touchdown and two turnovers. Moore was not helped by a poor performance from his receivers, who dropped a number of on-target balls.
“We knew [Penn was] a really good team and we’d have to stay with them,” head coach Tony Reno said. “At times we did and at times we didn’t. We have to work to get better as a football team.”
While the Bulldog offense managed just seven points, the game was undoubtedly lost on the defensive side of the line. Torgersen, an Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year favorite, fired the ball all over the field with impressive accuracy in the first half, and Watson ran around and behind the Eli secondary with ease. Penn attempted just six passes in the second half, two of which came courtesy of Torgersen’s backup, Michael Collins, as the senior sat during the entire fourth quarter.
Complementing Solomon’s 120-yard game, Torgersen contributed just as many problems in the run game as in the passing game. The quarterback did not rush for fewer than four yards on any attempt, and kept the struggling Bulldog defense on the field by scampering for two third-down conversions in the first half.
“They came in and stuck to their game plan and we had to make a few adjustments,” captain and linebacker Darius Manora ’17 said. “We didn’t play well and needed to tackle better. They executed their plays and we didn’t execute ours.”
The Elis entered the game with the top rushing offense in the Ivy League. Although the unit saw some success against Penn, it did not dominate as it recently had against Dartmouth and Fordham. Moore contributed just four rushing yards from the quarterback position and Dale Harris ’17 played mostly at cornerback, getting only three carries on offense.
Lamar kept the running game afloat in his return from injury, rushing for 118 yards to reprise his 180-yard performance in the Dartmouth game two weekends ago. The freshman shouldered the load without his usual ensemble in the backfield — in addition to Harris playing mostly defense, backs Deshawn Salter ’18 and Candler Rich ’17 both missed the game due to injury.
“I wasn’t cleared until the end of the week,” Lamar said. “I just took it as I was going to play so I just worked hard all week and went from there.”
Moore completed just 13 of 30 passes in the pocket, with his longest going for just 13 yards. The sophomore also fumbled on a run on the opening drive and threw an interception three series later. Penn scored touchdowns on both possessions following Moore’s early turnovers.
In what seemed to be the prologue to another quarterback controversy, Moore was benched for a series in the second quarter after his interception, with quarterback Kurt Rawlings ’20 assuming the spotlight under center. The freshman assembled a middling 14-yard drive that resulted in a punt, and Moore returned the next drive with noticeable uptick in accuracy.
“I just wanted to give Tre a break,” Reno said. “Things were going really fast, and at every other position you can give a guy a break when they need it. We’ve done that before with Morgan Roberts ’16 and we did it today with Tre.”
Struggles in the passing game cannot rest solely on Moore’s shoulders, as young receivers, playing instead of an injured Christopher Williams-Lopez ’18, dropped several potential first-down passes.
Yale’s late touchdown ensured that the team narrowly avoided tying the worst home loss in its history on Friday, faring slightly barely better than in its 42-point losses to UConn in 1998 and to Colgate in this year’s season opener. The Elis will look for a better result under Friday night lights next week as they travel to Columbia for a 7 p.m. clash.
My mom didn’t want me to go to Yale. We only fought about it a couple times, sure, but in early April of my senior year, she wore her disapproval like a sunburn. Angry and stinging and warm. I’d sneak a glance in her direction on the drive to school every morning. Her mouth was a hard, straight line. She pursed her lips. She didn’t want me to go Yale because, in her day, she’d taken the party bus from Smith College to New Haven a few times. At mixers, she sipped punch and warded off lecherous nerds.
She also didn’t want me to go to Yale because my father’s coworker — a real snobby misogynist — was a proud Yale alumnus. I stammered and blushed too much, she thought; I wasn’t put-together or driven or hungry for success.
But I needed to prove something to someone, and so I kept telling her: Mom, it’s the best liberal arts school in the world. I just want to sit at a seminar table with the smartest young minds and a brilliant professor. I just want to learn.
Since then, I’ve wanted to ask my past self — what the fuck does that mean? The best liberal arts school in the world? Why are you parotting those stupid propaganda pamphlets? (I’ve even wanted to ask — why are you going to college at all, Jane?)
Because my past self is stuck in 2012, fighting with my mom and trying on prom dresses, I looked elsewhere for answers. It appeared that I wasn’t the only one. In 2012, Nathan Harden wrote the controversial book “Sex and God at Yale,” in which he lamented Yale’s failure to instill a moral code in its students. In 2013, high school senior Suzy Lee Weiss wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “To (All) the Colleges that Rejected Me,” lambasting the universities that turned down her application. And in July 2014, William Deresiewicz came out with the inflammatory New Republic article “Don’t Send your Kid to the Ivy League.” Professors and students and parents have responded in droves, of course.
As International Affairs Lecturer Charles Hill says, “Editors and publishers love it. To them, Yale is like catnip.”
While cats don’t ever become catnip-resistant — science! — I will say that Yale students stop noticing the headline “Yale.” In other words, I’m not writing a sensationalist critique of the University.
What follows instead is a long, winding response to the question — what kind of education does an elite liberal arts school like Yale offer? And why do we want it?
At first, I did the “research paper thing” and read a few articles about Old Yale. Written in 1701, the Yale Charter describes the University (then known as the Collegiate School) as an institution “wherein Youth may be instructed in the Arts & Sciences who through the blessing of Almighty God may be fitted for Publick employment both in Church & Civil State.”
Yale was originally a religious institution, turning the sons of the Connecticut elite into morally upstanding ministers. In the early 18th century, the faculty was academically inflexible: To them, a Yale education was a classical education and only a classical education. All students read Greek, Latin and Hebrew. Yale President Ezra Stiles eventually dialed down the requirements, and in 1790, he named Hebrew an optional area of study. In 1926, for the first time in Yale’s history, students could opt out of the daily compulsory chapel.
Then I read a few articles about New Yale. Over 300 years later, the current Yale admissions website praises our liberal arts education as one “through which students think and learn across disciplines, literally [sic] liberating or freeing the mind to its fullest potential.”
This is a pretty standard definition. The verbs “to think” and “to learn” both appear, as well as a neat little superlative and noun pairing: fullest potential. I like the word potential because it implies a great, dark well of talent hidden deep inside me. I’d love to reach my fullest potential.
Students themselves offer similar interpretations, but ones tempered by irony or self-effacement. They skirt the issue as they might a riddle or a trick question. “I think a liberal arts education is about becoming a full person,” Eli Westerman ’18 says. “It’s about excellence in mind, soul and body.” And then he laughs, a little unsure, shifting in his chair.
“It’s an education where you have access to ideas from as many spheres as possible,” Liz Jones ’15 says a few days later. And then she gives me a quizzical look, and glances down at her knees.
“I think it teaches you how to think in a different way,” Francesco Bertolini ’18 says. Then he concedes that “Fractal Geometry” hasn’t yet taught him that different way.
For authors and social critics like Deresiewicz (“Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life”) and Harden, this bashful hesitation suggests that the Ivy League is doing something wrong. Students are confused because they’re not receiving a true-blue liberal arts Education. To these cultural critics, the students’ confusion betrays an uptick in preprofessionalism and a decline in personal development.
In his New Republic article, Deresiewicz calls Yale students — to whom he taught English for 10 years — “great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.” He pushes against the notion that top-tier universities “teach their students how to think.” In other words, Yale students can’t define a liberal arts education because they’re not getting one.
Harden takes a similar stance. To him, the University fails to deliver an effective, intellectually stimulating education, since “there is no commitment to intellectual diversity whatsoever.”
Both Deresiewicz and Harden maintained that the Ivy League lacks a diversity of background and ideology. Since this diversity is the linchpin of a liberal arts education, Yale can only offer a one-sided, partial schooling.
“How are students supposed to learn to critically examine their beliefs and viewpoints if they spend four years in an ideological echo chamber?” Harden asks.
Jones, however, takes issue with these sweeping generalizations, particularly Deresiewicz’s praise of state schools. While he claims that they offer more diversity, many of her friends at Ohio State shut themselves off from all novelty. “With so many people, it’s so much easier to segregate yourself. If you don’t have a dean who knows your name, it’s so easy to say ‘I just want to study this’ and never have anyone challenge your ideas.”
If homogeneity in the Ivy League is the issue, perhaps the solution begins in the admissions office, which faces the yearly task of selecting around 2,000 admits from an applicant pool of over 30,000. With so many hopefuls, why would Yale have any trouble constructing a diverse class?
The University itself divulges precious little information about its admissions process.
“Yale is looking to create a class of the best students from around the world with a variety of backgrounds and experiences,” Yale Dean of Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan says. “We’re looking for students who are most suited and ready for making the most of Yale’s cutting-edge resources and faculty.”
The wishes and thoughts expressed on College Confidential, “the world’s largest college forum,” are equally vague.
Scrolling through the “Yale Class of 2018 RD Discussion Thread,” I get that horrible, gnawing high-school-senior feeling again. That we’re caught in a crowd, trampling friends underfoot. That we’re reduced to “stats,” each fraction of 2400 no different from the next.
The thread is 60 pages. 888 replies. Of the 15 comments on page 55 (all from March 27, 2014) nine are variations on an original theme:
“Rejected … As expected”
“Rejected! My dream school! May my life be f____ed.”
Most of the users (and their siblings and parents, who also participate in the online discussions on behalf of their DDs and DSs — Dear Daughters and Dear Sons) seem to value the Ivies for nebulous reasons. Yale is everyone’s “dream school” or “reach school,” but not much more.
And yet, Yale philosophy professor Shelly Kagan and English professor David Bromwich don’t teach drones. Neither agrees with Deresiewicz’s claim; both are impressed by their students’ creativity and curiosity. According to Kagan, “If Deresiewicz didn’t find his students here intellectually curious and alive, caring about ideas, then I can only report that he didn’t have my students.”
Many undergraduates notice similar levels of commitment in their peers. Freshmen as well as seniors marvel at the student body’s passion and curiosity. In a survey sent to a random sample of undergraduate students by the News, only 18 percent of the 117 respondents agreed with the statement that “Yale students don’t have enough intellectual curiosity.”
“You label someone as something, and then you discover they’re a philosophy major and also pre-med. It’s amazing,” Antonia Campbell ’18 says.
Zana Davey ’15 has been impressed by her friends’ senior theses, all of which reveal “academic niches” and a real intellectual investment.
While no one denies that Yale kids are passionate, some hesitate to call those passions academic commitment. Kate Miller ’16, for one, thinks that the University doesn’t always encourage intellectual activity at a high level. She finds that students can complete their coursework without immersing themselves in their studies.
“Deep academic engagement usually requires a kind of vulnerability, and a Yale education doesn’t necessarily ask that of us.” she says.
I don’t disagree.
For a while in high school, I wanted to study astrophysics. (Back then, the universe seemed like an amazing thing.) The summer after my junior year, I went to a fancy science camp outside Santa Barbara where I learned to code and use a telescope and predict the motion of an asteroid. Once I got to Yale, of course, everything changed. I forgot about astrophysics, read Aeschylus, then Cervantes, and, somehow, in the spring of my sophomore year, wound up in ASTR 135: “Archeoastronomy.”
Turns out, the professor had also taught at my science camp. When I was seventeen, I heard him explain orbital eccentricity to a handful of teenagers. At twenty, I heard him define the scientific method to a hundred impassive college kids. Each time I entered the lecture hall, I felt a rush of shame.
“A lot of things could be changed about the distributional requirements,” Jones says. She’s sympathetic to students who are interested in quantitative skills but not pursuing a science degree. Jones adds, shaking her head, that “The only science that’s available to them are these guts.”
Miller agrees—to her, the sacrifice of depth for breadth is often deleterious to Yale students. A broad education can be a scattered education. “That’s a paradox,” she says. “You’re supposed to take a wide range of classes according to the standards of the discipline, and that’s virtually impossible.”
In fact, she goes on to offer an alternate definition of the liberal arts. She pauses, collects her thoughts, takes a breath and says: “a liberal arts education is just the performance of a liberal arts education.”
Imagine this: the year is 2020 and you’re at a cocktail party downtown. The girl with pink hair and a nice hovercraft comments on President Hillary Clinton’s recent speech. In response, you say something clever about power and oppression, alluding to Machiavelli’s Prince. Then the cyborg nearby comments on the Medicis, and banking in Renaissance Europe. And the cyborg’s wife brings up the chemical properties of poison that killed Catherine de Medici. Everyone laughs appreciately. Their spacesuits crinkle like bags of chips.
These (past, present and future) cocktail parties can be a sort of culmination, the endpoint of all-nighters and crying fits and color-coded notes. After all, here you are among other young professionals, chatting idly about art and history and current events. You got educated to act educated.
Of all the critiques leveled at the Ivy League, this one seems to ring the truest. 71% surveyed agreed that Yale students are excessively concerned about their image and/or career.
But a wide, shallow pool of knowledge offers certain comforts — especially in an era of economic uncertainty, when making a choice feels like slamming a door.
In his 22 years at Yale, Hill has certainly noticed a rise in such academic caution, which sometimes reveals itself in preprofessionalism. (By definition, a liberal arts education is intended to provide general knowledge rather than professional or technical skills.) “What has happened in our society has been a smothering effect,” he says. More and more, undergraduates endure social and familial pressures to enter and conquer the job market as quickly as possible. They have received excessive guidance, which creates “a sense of uniformity from which students cannot escape.”
Bromwich and Kagan have also noticed this change — Bromwich describes it as a constellation of tendencies: “to be highly organized, to keep a careful count of one’s skills, attainments, and extracurricular assets, to prize ‘results’ over adventure.” According to the professors, these habits betray a growing anxiety about future prospects and life after graduation.
In describing her last year at Yale so far, Davey draws a comparison. She’s been thinking about the difference between high school and college, she says.
“Senior year of high school, you probably know you’re going to college. But now, graduating from college, everyone is on a different timeline.”
In other words, undergraduates in a single age cohort begin to move at different rates: this discrepancy leads to insecurity. Students who haven’t found jobs encounter students who have signed on with corporate firms, and they suddenly feel that they’re out of the loop.
As Andrew Giambrone ’14 puts it, senior year is “a sort of mad dash to have figured out as soon as possible what you’re doing after graduation.”
And yet, while both Deresiewicz and Harden attack this anxiety, they don’t acknowledge that this problem extends beyond Ivy League gates. Yale students feel social and familial pressures just as students do in state schools and catholic schools, institutions which Deresiewicz considers superior to elite universities.
Hill says, “These are national matters.”
In his New Yorker essay “What College Can’t Do,” Joshua Rothman reaches a similar conclusion. He parses Deresiewicz’s claims with intellectual generosity and critical remove, and still asserts that the Ivy League is not the culprit. Modernity is the culprit. “The fact that you can feel soulless in such an intellectual paradise suggests that the problem is bigger than college,” he writes.
All the professors I consulted agree: this preprofessionalism, this busyness, this fear, is simply a cultural phenomenon, rather than a malicious attempt on the University’s part to crush our souls. It’s economic anxiety in an economically shaky time. Pure and simple.
In general, really, Yale students and professors pull apart Deresiewicz’s argument without breaking a sweat. Kagan is candid — “Had he submitted the essay to me for a class, I would have failed it.”
“It was my first week at work,” Giambrone recalls reading the article in late July. “I remember being kind of incensed by it: it didn’t resonate with my experience as a Yale student at all.”
He felt compelled to respond — on July 28, the New Republic published Giambrone’s own essay, “I’m a Laborer’s Son. I Went to Yale. I Am Not ‘Trapped in a Bubble of Privilege.’” The piece touches upon Giambrone’s socioeconomic background, as well as Yale’s generous financial aid policy. Now an editorial fellow at The Atlantic, the recent graduate writes that Deresiewicz’s “argument effaces important economic, social, and personal differences among students, conveniently neglecting the fact that elite colleges allow athletes and engineers to sit around the same seminar tables as sons of farmers and daughters of CEOs.”
Jones, who is also from a lower-income family, found glaring problems in Deresiewicz’s conclusion, in which he implores students to attend second-tier liberal arts colleges, places like Reed.
In her experience, Yale offers better financial aid than most of these other schools.
“The smaller liberal arts colleges that he mentions are the places I would never in a million years be able to go,” Jones says.
After all, the critics of the Ivy League don’t really acknowledge the privilege implicit in their own arguments: For the most part, they do not take financial aid into consideration. They assume that all prospective college students have the luxury to reject elite universities. Many people do not.
“In terms of socioeconomic stratification, the Ivies are still among the worst,” Deresiewicz says. Fifty-three percent of respondents to the News survey respondents agreed: Yale students are not exposed to enough diversity of socioeconomic backgrounds.
But even Deresiewicz concedes that Yale may indeed have a better financial aid policy than other schools. The University offers scholarships to over half of its student body, operating on a need-blind admissions policy.
Jenny Nguyen ’16 cites organizations like QuestBridge, a nonprofit program that connects low-income students to scholarship opportunities, when discussing Yale’s financial aid policy. “It’s very important to be able to ameliorate your situation,” she says. “Yale opened a lot of doors for me.”
On Sept. 24, Deresiewicz sits down to a room full of Yale kids and explains why the school is killing their souls. The spacious living room in Morse College can barely accommodate all the visitors, so some students sit on the floor. Others stand in the back. Eventually, the college master Amy Hungerford opens her french windows, and latecomers stand in the courtyard. I cannot tell if we showed up for personal edification or enlightenment or perverse pleasure. I listen to Deresiewicz as best I can, noting the jokes he lands, the calculated colloquialisms, the drastic shifts in tone.
Deresiewicz seems to establish a critical vocabulary — he doesn’t like the word “passion,” but prefers to say “purpose.” He doesn’t like the expression “find yourself,” but prefers to say “build yourself.” With these rational feints, he gives the impression he has a careful, coherent thesis in mind.
But he does not.
Instead, during his talk, he offers students an incomprehensible parable, paternalistic advice, and a set of terms he never defines. I want to be sympathetic, I do — his is a herculean task. He wants to take stock of an entire country’s educational system, one that’s been shifting and growing for hundreds of years. But the scope is too wide: Deresiewicz crams economic worries and moral imperatives and analytical skills into the blender and hopes for an argument. The result is mush.
Towards the end of the talk, he cites the New York Times article “Becoming a Real Person,” in which Jackson Institute Senior Fellow David Brooks divides a university’s goals into three categories: professional training, critical thinking and character development. With this final objective, Deresiewicz’s aim comes into focus. He thinks that Yale hasn’t been developing our characters. We need a “moral education.”
When I hear this, I feel like some dumb, proverbial weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I understand the problem.
The question was: what kind of education does an elite liberal arts school like Yale offer?
My answer is: I don’t know, but I do know this — I’m not looking for a moral education. I don’t want to consider my “purpose” or “build myself.” I am all in favor of self-knowledge and reflexivity, sure, but I didn’t come to Yale to learn how to live.
Sometimes, I’m happy enough just to think. I’m happy enough to listen in lecture and write all my papers. I don’t want to graduate with a freaky, mystical sense of “purpose.”
And so I called my mom on Tuesday and asked if I could make her a framing device in this article. She was hesitant at first, but then I said, “Mom, it’s true. You didn’t want me to go to Yale.”
“I didn’t want you to go to Yale because Yale is full of assholes,” she said. “But I am happy that you’re getting so much out of college. You seem to really love the things you do and I am happy to be wrong.”
Correction: Sept. 29
A previous version of this article stated that Jenny Nguyen ’16 benefited from QuestBridge. While she is a QuestBridge scholar, she has not financially benefited from the program.
Students in Cambridge can now count on a new tool to help them navigate through the often hectic shopping period — and it looks pretty familiar.
Harvard sophomores Ben Kuhn and Billy Janitsch, members of the Harvard Class of 2015, recently developed an online course catalog and schedule planner called Harvard Class. The website’s interface looks remarkably similar to Yale Bluebook, which Jared Shenson ’12 and Charlie Croom ’12 designed for the 2011 YCC App Challenge and which the University recently acquired. But don’t worry: it’s not a copycat, the founders say.
Kuhn and Janitsch say Harvard Class “definitely draws inspiration from YBB, though we’d describe it more as conceptual than functional or aesthetic inspiration.
“We wanted to make a site that was quick, pretty, and intuitive – precisely the qualities that have made YBB so successful,” they wrote in an email.
Both websites feature an advanced course search engine that allows students to input course title, academic term, year of interest and the subject area desired — though Harvard Class also boasts instantaneous search. By mid-September, the new site had already received 300,000 pageviews from 4,500 unique users since its debut in early August. The founders of Havard Class said they don’t have any plans to sell to Harvard.
“Large institutions like Harvard can very easily run into issues of complacency, whereby not much innovation happens because there’s little in the way of competition and simply not much institution-benefiting incentive to innovate,” Kunh and Janitsch wrote. “We want to explore some new territory with this project, and hopefully come across new realms of cool functionality. We think that staying independent is the easiest way to push forward as much as we can.”
Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman announced Saturday that, after 11 years leading Princeton, she will step down in June.
During her tenure, Tilghman oversaw the addition of a residential college and a $1.88 billion fundraising campaign. Tilghman announced her plans to leave at the Princeton Board of Trustees Friday meeting; in a Saturday email to the student body, Tilghman said she plans to take a year’s sabbatical and then return to teaching.
“There is a natural rhythm to university presidencies,” Tilghman wrote. “With the major priorities accomplished or well on their way to being realized, and the campaign successfully concluded, it is time for Princeton to turn to its 20th president to chart the path for the next decade and beyond.”
University President Richard Levin made a similar statement in late August, when he announced his reasons for stepping down after 20 years. With the end of the $3.88 billion Yale Tomorrow campaign and the imminent launch of Yale-NUS, Levin said he saw himself in between major projects.
According to a Princeton press release, the team choosing Tilghman’s successor will include nine members of the Board of Trustees, four members of the faculty who will be elected by the faculty, two undergraduates, a graduate student and a member of the staff.
An earlier version of this article misstated the name of retiring Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman.