Your Yale Week: March 4, 2016

Hello and Welcome to Your Yale Week. I’m Nicole Daly, and here are this week’s top stories. This week saw two major protests take place. On Monday, UNITE HERE Locals 34 and 35 unveiled a “Solidarity Resolution” urging Yale-New Haven Hospital to hire more New Haven residents. The resolution demands that the hospital system dramatically increase the number of full-time hires it makes from the city’s black and Hispanic neighborhoods. And on Wednesday, Local 34 protested again, coming to the door of Woodbridge hall to demand that the University secure 986 Yale School of Medicine jobs. The 2,500 signatures on the petition constitute roughly 78 percent of the total 3,200 Local 34 membership. Both of these protests are surrounded by another discussion of unions, whether a Local 33 union made of graduate students will be allowed to form.

The University, as represented in a joint amicus brief filed Monday with Columbia is against graduate unionization. After a University decision to cut all its funding, Yale’s Climate & Energy Institute will close by the end of June. The loss of the institute, which for the last eight years has conducted research related to issues of climate change, leaves a hole in climate and energy studies at Yale. Although the Energy Studies academic program will continue within Yale College, students in the YCEI said they were outraged by the budget cuts and subsequent closure of an institute that is one of the only research-focused climate change programs for undergraduates on campus. Finally our top story. The participation rates of the senior class gift, a yearly contribution raised by the graduating class, is down significantly.

We’ll be talking to the beat reporter for admissions, financial aid and student life Jon Victor to explore the causes of this dramatic decrease. But first, for a brief look at next week, Claire Lu. Thanks, Nicole. This weekend is a big one for women’s basketball. The women’s team will be playing Cornell on Friday at 7 p.m. and Columbia on Saturday at 7 p.m. for senior night, their last home game of the season. In women’s sailing, the women’s team Race Regatta will take place at 9:30 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. Finally, the women’s tennis team will be hosting Stony Brook on Saturday at 1 p.m. There are a few great arts events going up this weekend. Throughout the day on Friday and Saturday, the Yale Playwrights Festival will be going on at the Whitney Humanities Center. Five Yale undergraduate playwrights will read their new plays, and each reading will be followed by a talkback moderated by the playwrights’ mentor. Catch Lysistrata, a classic Greek comedy about the battle of the sexes, through the lens of drag performance.

Put your name on the waitlist for one of the performances at 8 p.m. this Friday and Saturday and a matinee on Saturday in the Morse-Stiles Crescent Theater. Finally, the Opera Theater of Yale College will be presenting L’étoile, at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday. This 1877 opera will be sung in the original French with English dialogue. Finally, don’t forget to pick up your copy of Weekend. The upcoming issue will be their interview issue, featuring Lance Chantiles-Wertz & Jacob Clemente – the Broadway boys, Jake Sullivan – Hillary Clinton's right-hand man, and Reginald Dwayne Betts – poet and advocate for criminal justice reform. Back to you Nicole. We’re joined now by Jon Victor the reporter on senior class gift participation story. Jon, thanks so much for joining us.

Thanks for having me. So what happened this year with the participation rate of the senior class gift. So this participation rate this year was even lower than last year, when there was an active student boycott against the senior class gift. Over issues of mental health on campus. And so this year it was 72.6%, last year it was 78%. But last year was the first time since 2009 that the participation rate had dipped below 90%, so it was very significant, and it’s significant it’s even below that this year. So why is this decrease significant? The senior class gift is often seen as a senior’s expression of love for Yale. The sizes of the contributions are relatively modest. The average was 36 dollars last year. And so the decreased participation rate might show some lingering disillusionment with the administration from last fall. We had student demonstrations and the administration was in the spotlight a lot, taking a lot of criticism from the students. And so it might be a reflection of that. So how does the senior class gift compare to other alumni giving trends? So alumni participation has been decreasing over the past twenty years, pretty steadily.

And this senior class gift is often seen as seniors’ introduction to the world of alumni giving. And so the lower rate this year and last year compared to the past six years might be a sign that this trend of reduced giving might continue. So what do you think this means for the future of the senior class gift? Well, I would say that the senior class gift as it exist now is not going to go away. But I think that this kind of shows that, starting with the boycott last year, students are realizing that the senior class gift might be a way for them to voice their discontent or approval of the administration. Well, thanks so much for that insight. We’ll definitely be following the story to see what happens..