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Yale Surveys Its Seniors

Every year, Yale gives the seniors a survey. A former student has just sent me a copy of this year’s edition.  What does Yale survey its soon to be graduates about?

Well, a great many things.  But here’s one question:

4A. As an undergraduate, did you ever seriously question or rethink your beliefs or values in any of the following areas? You need not have changed your beliefs or values in order to answer ‘yes’ to having questioned them in a fundamental way.

Curious.  I, for one, did not realize that one of Yale’s official goals is to encourage students to question or rethink their beliefs and values in “a fundamental way.”  Undoubtedly, some students will do this in the course of four years, whether a university wills it or not, and that is just fine.

But the point of these sorts of questions – and there are plenty of them on the survey – is to ascertain whether or not Yale has made its students more multicultural, more accepting of others, and more aware of problems as defined by the Left.  When universities talk about “fundamental” change, it is fundamental only in one political direction.

Maybe we shouldn’t make too much of this.  The Yale campus is inundated with surveys, and the fate of a good many of them is to be chucked into a closet and left there.  But the culture of surveying in academia is not a healthy one.  It is, for instance, not a good thing that teaching evaluations are publicly available for students to peruse.  “Customer service” is not the right model for higher education, because the “customers” are the ones being educated.

The senior survey is, of course, another example of the political partiality that prevails in Yale’s administration, but it is also a study in what has happened in education to cause surveys to run rampant: the more the institution loses confidence in its authority to educate in the classroom, the more it finds other goals to justify its existence, be it political indoctrination or keeping the students happy by letting them pick and chose the easiest classes.

And it works.  As the Yale Daily News put it,

Chris Young ’09 has become a lot more comfortable with his body since he has been at Yale. So comfortable, in fact, that one of his final plans for senior year is to run through Bass Library naked with fellow classmates the night before the organic chemistry final, throwing candy to the students busy studying. ‘Four years ago I wouldn’t have been caught dead thinking about that,’ he continued. ‘But now it’s just like, “Okay, cool.” It’s not even a big deal.’

Streaking on campus is a tradition.  But there is something a bit creepy about the fact that Mr. Young has so eagerly learned the lesson that Yale is signaling in its survey: the values you came in with are not a big deal.  Apart from the fact that these values may, sometimes, actually be a big deal, this seems too vapid a lesson to be worth $200,000 and four years to learn.


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