Yale Exchange Highlights Need For Dialogue
story Spandana Bhattacharya | David Chappell
The recent exchange trip between Yale-NUS College and Yale University was set up to share information between both institutions, yet many students found themselves spending a large proportion of their time explaining what Yale-NUS was.
The trip saw 19 students from six student organizations at Yale-NUS travel to Yale over the spring break with the aim of exchanging ideas between the two institutions. But, students interviewed expressed concerns about the lack of information about Yale-NUS at Yale and its possible long-term implications.
Feroz Khan ’18, who was representing RC^3 on the trip, said that while the Yale community was very warm and welcoming, “many of the students don’t even know Yale-NUS exists.” He added that he felt these students were in the majority. Similarly, Julianne Thomson ’18, another RC^3 representative, said that even though Yale students were receptive to Yale-NUS students, there was “a culture of miscommunication and ignorance” surrounding Yale-NUS at Yale.
Both said they viewed this lack of information as a problem, at least for Yale-NUS. Khan said that it could lead to the college “losing a bunch of opportunities … that we need not have lost,” after likening Yale to a parent that was unaware that it had accidentally fathered a child. Thomson said that it was important to foster understanding between the colleges if Yale-NUS was to continue to bear Yale’s name, which to her is more than just branding.
However, Dean of Students Kyle Farley said that he was not very surprised by the lack of awareness at Yale about Yale-NUS, given that the college was only in its fourth semester. “It exactly mirrors what happens in Singapore. They call us Yale. It’s because we are new that the people in the Yale side think of us as NUS and NUS side think of us as Yale.” He added that student interaction will be key to solving this problem.
Students interviewed echoed this sentiment. Michael Herbert ’16, student from Yale and President of the Yale College Council (YCC), said that while the YCC had been looking into ways to better integrate the two institutions, it would “not be as good as getting to sit down and talk with [students].” He added that the trip was fruitful for both sides as the visiting student government members had “reinforced the need to have fun events” and “gave us a new perspective on how different students conceive of their relationship with their school.”
Similarly, John Reid ’17, who represented PS: We Care, said that the trip had “more than lived up to expectations,” and that an annual trip to Yale would be a good idea at least in the initial years of Yale-NUS’s existence, although other universities, such as NYU Abu Dhabi, may have more in common with Yale-NUS.
While many students were keen for future exchanges, concerns were raised about the trip’s sizeable cost. Herbert said that, while such trips were beneficial for both colleges, exchanges were both “difficult and expensive.” The week long exchange cost over $40,000 compared to the $65,000 student organization budget from Fall Semester to March 2015. Still, Mr. Farley said that given the widespread benefits of the exchange, it was a “bargain.”
The seven organizations represented were The Octant, PS: We Care, I’dECO, the Athletics Council, RC^3, the Improv Comedy Conglomerate and the Shiok Shack.