Vile Bodies

Remembrance of Yale’s Past

May 31, 2011

I’ll tell you where all the glory that was Yale has gone—down the toilet, into the cloaca maxima of modern political correctness. Centuries-old tradition has been flushed down the tubes as swiftly as a lowly turd caught in the vortex of a Meyer-Sniffen siphon-jet water closet.

If you want to know all the Decline and Fall stuff about how it happened, you can read The Guardians: Kingman Brewster, His Circle, and the Rise of the Liberal Establishment by G. Kabaservice (2004).

May it suffice to say that it had to do, beginning in the middle 1960s, with a radical change in admissions criteria—no more bottom-quarter-of-the-class, gentleman-C, old Yalie family types from Andover (G. W. Bush notably proving the rule). Then there was 1969’s introduction of coeducation. Also, the administration embraced the anti-Vietnam War protest (ROTC was squeezed off campus) and was sympathetic to the Black Panthers and other insidious liberal movements. Yale was relieved that New Haven did not have a full-bore revolt and occupation of the university offices as they did at Columbia. Instead, it wasn’t just the president’s office that got trashed there, it was the whole college!

Yale lost so much because it has fallen from such a height. Today’s undergraduate student body is considered meritocratic, diverse to beat the band, and progressive as regards both male and female homosexuality. There aren’t enough preppies to fill a decent club. The Fence has shut its doors. Mr. Huggins’s son became a Black Panther.

To graduates’ dismay, the great senior societies are now all coed and “lean toward ethnicity,” writes Alexandra Robbins in Secrets of the Tomb (2002). The ancient “Tombs” have turned into groups of “overly politically correct hyperventilators” who anguish over perpetuating themselves. In one society at an election of candidates, Robbins reports, a Korean American student threw a tantrum, then “sobbed and stalked out of a meeting because he wanted his slot to go to another Korean rather than an individual of different Asian heritage.” A Chicano member threw a similar fit. “Skull and Bones likewise chases down minority candidates…who fill certain society niches. The woman who is also gay and outspoken, and preferably Native American, is likely to be considered.”

Ties and jackets are gone. It’s all jeans, sneakers, and T-shirts. By looking at him, you can’t tell a modern Yale man from a University of Connecticut townie. God knows what the female undergraduates look like, but “Yale slut” hardly bespeaks knee socks, pleated skirts, McMullen blouses, cashmere cable-knit cardigans, and circle pins. Socially, Yale is in the Ivy League basement. Cornell, Penn, and Columbia, once the redheaded beaten social stepchildren of the Ivy League, now laugh at Yale.

OK, call me a reactionary old fart, but as Talleyrand said, “Qui n’a pas vécu sous l’ancien régime ne connaît pas la douceur de vivre.”

 

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