First Domestic Service Trip… Ever?

30 Jan

This was in my inbox this morning:

Yale Alumni Service Corps
Announces the
2013 First Domestic Service Trip to West Virginia
June 26th-June 30th, 2013

Now, this sounds like a great opportunity, both for low-income high school students who want to to attend college, and for Yale alums who have college counseling and writing skills.

So, go, Yale.

And…

“First Domestic Service Trip”? Ever? Seriously?

Yale was founded in 1701. 312 years ago!

Now, just in case any of us were thinking that’s a long time not to notice poverty, hunger and homelessness in the US–and even more locally, in New Haven (according to The Yale Daily News, 25% of New Haven residents were living in poverty in 2010: http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2010/10/05/1-in-4-live-in-poverty-in-new-haven/), the YASC assures alumni:

“YASC has not forgotten that communities in the US are also in need and that as college alumni we can make a difference by inspiring deserving students to apply to college.”

See, I kinda think YASC did forget. Or was trying not to look.

And while I understand feeling the need to present a “we got this” front to the world when you’re an institution like Yale, I would respect this branch of my alma mater all the more so if it would transparently reflect on its historic service bias and blindspots, acknowledge the influences and perspectives that caused it to notice those biases (alumni feedback? role modeling by other peer or competing institutions?) and reconcile its vision and intentions with its newer, more inclusive programs, so that this isn’t just about keeping up with the Harvards (or whomevers): it’s about YASC having ongoing awareness and discernment.

Which we all need.

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