A Better Yale? Hmm…
Yale alumni who read this blog are filling up my in-box with a long e-mail the university’s president, Peter Salovey, just sent to them all, updating them about the resolution of the recent crisis there. Note this part:
We begin this work by laying to rest the claim that it conflicts with our commitment to free speech, which is unshakeable. The very purpose of our gathering together into a university community is to engage in teaching, learning, and research—to study and think together, sometimes to argue with and challenge one another, even at the risk of discord, but always to take care to preserve our ability to learn from one another.
Yale’s long history, even in these past two weeks, has shown a steadfast devotion to full freedom of expression. No one has been silenced or punished for speaking their minds, nor will they be. This freedom, which is the bedrock of education, equips us with the fullness of mind to pursue our shared goal of creating a more inclusive community.
Students like Jerelyn Luther remain free to abuse and curse their professors. It’s the bedrock of education, after all.
Here’s the real meat:
Earlier this month Provost Ben Polak and I announced a $50 million, five-year, university-wide initiative that will enable all of our schools to enhance faculty diversity. This is a campus-wide priority. Within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which includes the faculty who teach in Yale College, we will invite one of our senior faculty members to take on the responsibility of helping to guide the FAS in its diversity efforts and its implementation of the initiative. This new leadership position will be located in the office of the dean of the FAS, and will hold the title of deputy dean for diversity in the FAS and special advisor to the provost and president. The deputy dean will also coordinate support and mentoring for our untenured faculty. Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tamar Gendler and the FAS deputy dean will convene a new committee to advise them about faculty diversity issues and strategies for inclusion.
Starting in 2016-17, the program budgets for the four cultural centers will double, augmenting the increases made this year and the ongoing facilities upgrades resulting from last year’s external review. The expanded funding will enable the centers to strengthen support for undergraduate students and extend support to the graduate and professional student communities. Staffing will be adjusted, and facilities for each center will continue to be assessed with an eye toward identifying additional enhancements. In addition, I will ask the deans of our schools to explore ways in which our community, including our extraordinary alumni, can increase the support and mentorship they provide to our students.
It’s a bonanza for the aggrieved! How about spending that $50 million on offering training that will make students more employable? How about spending that money teaching them about the fundaments of Western civilization, or American constitutional order? What about … oh, to hell with it. We know what this is all about. More:
Educating our community about race, ethnicity, diversity, and inclusion begins with the university’s leadership. I, along with the vice presidents, deans, provosts, and other members of the administration, will receive training on recognizing and combating racism and other forms of discrimination in the academy. Similar programs will be provided to department chairs, directors of graduate and undergraduate studies, masters and deans, student affairs staff, and others across the university.
We are also making funds available to improve existing programs and develop new ones—both during orientation periods and beyond—that explore diversity and inclusion and provide tools for open conversations in all parts of the university about these issues. Programs may take the form of trainings, speaker series, or other ongoing activities. We will appoint a committee of students, faculty, and staff to help us develop and implement these efforts, so that we can learn to work together better to create an inclusive community, a community in which all feel they belong.
So now, the re-education process begins. As one of the Yale alumni who reads this blog said in his e-mail to me:
He says Yale’s commitment to free speech is unshakeable, and to ensure that he is going to…. double the budgets of the multicultural staffs and start a new center on multicultural inclusion. Hmmm.
Lux? Veritas? Where?
No confidence. None.
UPDATE: Reader CatherineNY asks us to remember that Yale once turned down a $20 million gift to fund a program in Western Civilization.:
Remember Yale’s abortive effort to establish a formal Western Civilization program? Of course you do—The Wall Street Journal brought national attention to the story of how the school ended up returning a $20 million donation from Lee Bass (Class of ‘79) that had been negotiated in 1991 with then-president Benno Schmidt and then-Yale College dean Donald Kagan. In 1995 Yale erupted over charges that the $20 million was lost because new (and current) president Richard Levin chose to side with powerful forces in the faculty and administration who objected to elevating Western culture above other cultures. It was high time, after all, to make room for the growing claims of ethnic, “gender,” and minority cultural studies.
Time has passed, Yale has moved on, and the Western Civ proposal envisioned by Schmidt, Kagan, and Lee Bass does not appear likely to be revived any time soon. Meanwhile, despite the fiscal and resource constraints cited by the University in rejecting the original Bass proposal, Yale has managed to find the wherewithal to launch a new program in Ethnicity, Race and Migration (ERM) and to bolster resources for gay and lesbian studies (as described in a detailed report in the conservative campus journal Light and Truth). Ironically, core learning about the fundamentals of Western civilization has become yet another “special interest” area for study, on a par with feminist literary analysis and Yale’s own new ERM major (which, being a special course of study, actually outranks Western Civ at Yale).
Yale deserves what it gets. May its administration and faculty be yelled at, cursed, and disrespected by privileged Sacred Victims™ from now till eternity.