Peter Salovey is the President of Yale University. His presidency has been a craven one — too craven, it seems, for the University’s major donors. Michael Rubin finds that Yale is paying the price for Salovey’s willingness to accommodate the “social justice” crowd.
Salovey has repeatedly yielded to the demands of that mob. As Rubin reminds us:
[Salovey] threw respect for free speech and decorum under the bus when he compelled the resignation of Silliman College master Nicholas Christakis in the face of the “shrieking girl” controversy. He legitimized violence when he rehired a dishwasher who smashed a historic stained glass window. In general, he catered to the loudest on campus, always willing to grease the squeaky wheel regardless of the consequence.
When students complained that the term “freshmen” disrespected women and “master” made African-Americans uncomfortable, he simply ordered their change, never mind that it was he who was racializing a term that had ancient collegiate roots. That Yale continues to issue master’s degrees only highlights the lack of intellectual consistency.
This was only the beginning:
[W]hen decades-long student protests persisted with regard to a residential college named after 19th century statesmen and Vice President John Calhoun due to the support Calhoun professed during his lifetime for slavery, Salovey first said he would keep the name out of respect for history but, when criticized by student activists, convened a handpicked and Orwellian “ Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming” which recommended changing the name of the college.
The problem with such a move was not simply the willingness to erase history at one of the nation’s most elite universities, but also intellectual inconsistency: Calhoun may have provided intellectual sustenance to the pro-slavery south, a not uncommon position at the time, but Elihu Yale, after whom the entire university is named, actually traded slaves during his lifetime.
In the name of “equality,” or “social justice,” or something, Salovey has also waged war on important Yale traditions:
Yale long prided itself on being centered on its undergraduates. Admissions officers sang the merits of residential colleges, each a unique community within the broader university. But, Salovey, who did not attend Yale as an undergraduate, homogenized the colleges in order to eliminate any differences between them. While the freshmen class dined together in “University Commons” since 1901, he closed the iconic dining hall in order to build a student center whose need (or need in that location) most students (let alone alumni) continue to question.
Apparently, a goodly portion of Yale’s donor based is not amused. Rubin reports:
Yale has, for years, been seeking to undertake a major capital campaign. Often, universities announce their campaigns after a silent stage in which they get high-profile donors to commit to the effort. According to staffers within Yale’s fundraising arm, the university was forced to delay its campaign for several years because big donors are rightly worried about Yale’s direction and its tendency to prioritize politics above academics.
Some years ago, before the insanity at Yale reached its current level, a former Yale professor told me that when he recounted the PC related goings on there to alums, they simply didn’t believe him. Now, with these developments making the headlines, it has become impossible not to believe.
Yale is paying the price. So too will like-minded elite colleges and universities, which is to say just about all of them.
STEVE adds: As readers know, I’m doing a series of ten lectures and small seminars at Yale this academic year (two more left in the series, later this month and next month), at the behest of the William F. Buckley Jr. Program at Yale. A lot of disgruntled Yale alumni have directed their contributions to the Buckley Program instead of Yale, and have let Salovey know it. The Buckley Program has seen its funding soar over the last two years, and has expanded its programs accordingly. My lecture series is just one of many programs they are sponsoring on a nearly weekly basis. Salovey, I am told, says nothing but nice things about the Buckley Program when alumni ask about it, but what else is he going to say? I am sure it annoys him.
In any case, if you are a Yale alum, or even just someone who wants to poke Salovey, you should consider supporting the Buckley Program—but be sure to send a note to Salovey’s office and the Yale development department explaining that you’ve decided to support the Buckley Program instead of yet another special deputy assistant under-dean for political correctness.