No one hates Yalies more than me.
Some of my earliest memories in New Haven involve waiting for the Art Museum to open at Atticus and being subjected to the pretentious political opinions of naive Yale freshman. I would ask myself, how is it possible to be this unaware and attend this prestigious Institution of Intelligence, this Cathedral of the Cranium, this Palace of Placation? Time and time again, I would arrive at the same conclusion: status and wealth are the primary factors of their acceptance. (No, I’m not petty.)
My disdain only grew as I started to explore our great city, only to find the most beautiful destinations gated off and reserved for the prestigious, accepted few. Castles that doubled as athletic facilities; courtyards with underground libraries; towers used as dorms. How could this be? People who only inhabit this city for four short years unlock parts of the city I’ll will never be able to see in my lifetime?
I was a young, idealistic kid. Or more appropriately, a younger, more idealistic version of what I am now. I still believed in the concept of universal fairness. After school, we would roam around New Haven, looking for any opportunity to reclaim our territory from the undeserving Yalies. (Usually to no avail.)
As time passed, my opinions evolved. I attempted to become a more understanding person. (Dare say I matured?!) Yet I found my hatred for Yalies endured. Why? Why do I hate these people who are getting the best education they can? Why do I despise these people whose only sin is attempting to better themselves?
Regardless of their actual aptitude, surely attending Yale makes them smarter, more capable people. (Or at least, in possession of more cocaine, which is sort of the same thing.)
On the flip side of the coin, I’d ask myself: Why I always feel as if I was a second class citizen in my own city? Wouldn’t this high-pedigree education also help create empathy for those who do not have equal opportunities? Surely, a $50,000-a-year education should afford them some perspective on the rest of society.
We have all seen the small, concrete examples, such as the infamous “white trash” Yelp reviews, of the larger contempt Yale students hold for us mere townies:
Again, I challenge myself to think: What is the root of this conflict? Does Yale foster this fear during freshman seminars like this Yale Daily News article suggests?
Perhaps we should take some responsibility and look inward. Have you ever made an attempt at congeniality towards students? When they blindly step onto the Broadway crosswalk as you’re driving, do you speed up or slow down? Don’t lie to me: I have seen you speed up and yell, “You’re so smart, yet you still haven’t learned to cross a @$%^*# road?!?”
(Between you and me, that actually was me last week at the Wall street crosswalk). This is exactly the type of behavior which only exacerbates the hatred boiling underneath the surface of the Nine Squares.
Here is the deal fam (can I call you that, I feel like we go way back, to like, three articles go). We hold Yalies in contempt for trotting through our homes as if we exist solely to be extras on the set of their Ivy-league lives.
Yalies believe you only go to college once, and they want to make the most of it. Why would you waste time forging relationships with 4 year expiration date. Yalies believe they are unfairly victimized by the citizens of New Haven. Apparently, our hospitality leaves something to be desired. Can you blame them?
Locals view Yalies as oblivious, wealthy children who do not comprehend their perceived superiority is not due to their intellect, but rather their socio-economic status. Now, of course I understand not every Yalie is an elitist and not every New Havener is scoundrel lurking the streets for the cheapest Pabst Blue Ribbons. (Some of us are just lookouts!)
Still, the fact remains: the city is divided by social constructs we voluntarily adhere to. Bar or Cafe Nine; Mason Mathis or the Pantry; you know which one you go to and you know the regulars. We look at each other with scorn as if our imagined territories were constantly being violated by each others very existence.
We forget there would be no New Haven without Yale and no Yale without New Haven. This is no chicken or the egg scenario. New Haven was founded in 1638, whereas Yale (which was originally founded in Saybrook, now known as Old Saybrook) only moved to New Haven in 1716.
Oh, and what a heady few years of Yale-less New Haven that must have been!
Clearly, New Haven predates Yale, and therefore Townies predate Yalies. However, New Haven, as small as it is, became a city known on the national scale, mostly due to the rise in prominence of Yale. You think anyone outside of Connecticut knows what or where (Old) Saybrook is? Exactly.
We are still holding onto a non-existent grudge which no longer has a basis in our society. Regardless of how you view the world, social mobility and status are less important and more ambiguous than it has ever been. In 1717, you were either a farmer or social elite.
You didn’t see the elite dress like farmers because it looks cool, or to make some sort of social commentary. In 2018, if you have ripped jeans and a double xl flannel with army boots, you’re probably the richest person at the bar.
In 1717, you were either educated to the nth degree or you were working sunup to sundown. In 2018, you can get a secondary education for free, and the less money you have the MORE money you get for financial aid for college.
Point being, shits changed cuzzo.
I can’t tell who is who anymore. It’s cool to drink cheap beer, shop the thrift, ride bikes, have long hair and questionable hygiene.
Can you tell who I am describing? New Haven hipster or pompous Yalie? How are we supposed to fight a war when you can’t tell who the enemy is? Maybe there was never an enemy at all. Maybe all this time we have had a lot more in common that we thought.
Maybe New Haveners are just elite and maybe Yalies are just scoundrels too.