New Coat-and-Tie Regulation at Yale Provokes Attack on Eli Education
Outraged and uncomfortable, Yale men have been tugging at their collars and muttering under their breath for the past month in protest of a new and "unnatural" College regulation--one, requiring them to wear coats and ties at dinner. Not at all meals--just evening meals and Sunday dinner.
The action, voted by the Executive committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences on February 29, was taken because of the failure of indifferent Yalies to look respectable voluntarily. Before the rule, coat and the restrictions had been up to the individual Colleges (i.e. Houses), most of which had adopted them.
"I had hoped that individual initiative would have made coats and ties universal in this College, but this does not seem to be the case," said a disillusioned Theodore M. Greene, master of Silliman College. Silliman, along with Davenport, had had no sartorial strictures.
The director of the University dining halls declared that the new rule gives "the Colleges a much more dignified atmosphere and it is not too much to ask that students be properly dressed for one meal a day." She did not say why it was too much to ask that Yale men be properly dressed for three meals a day.
New Haven reaction to the totalitarian rule came swift and vicious. Only the Yale Daily New was vociferous in its backing of the law. "It is, we submit, a good thing and conducive to a loftier degree of civilization in the manners and mores of Yale alumni," pontificated the News.
The News editorial appeared March 3. Two days later the paper ran a letter from the "Lower Court Vigilante Committee" of Davenport attacking the rule. "One dean," ran part of the letter, "has 14 striped ties hidden in one of his closets What are they doing there? How did he get them? We'll tell you. The clothing lobby gave them to him as a 'gift'!"
The letter also criticized the design of the ties that the University issues to men who lack them at meals. The ties are gaudy, not neat, claim the vigilantes, and the "University gets these ties from the Aloha Sport Shirt Company which is controlled by the mother of one of the members of the Faculty Executive Committee."
Yale's whole philosophy of education came under attack the very next day from another irate letter-writer, George Rehin '52. He wrote, "They would have all of us dress alike, behave alike in class and thing alike. There will come a day when all Yalemen must dress like spooks on Tap Day, sit rigid in the class room with the somber and vacant stares of mechanical men, file with military precision into the dining halls, and never touch women or liquor after 6:30."
Concluded Rehin. "We will all think alike, for the intellectual fare cooked up by our academic dieticians for consumption in the class room is as unimaginative and as unvarying as the food in the dining halls. I suggest that the administration devote its time to correcting sloppy thinking and work on the part of the faculty, so many of whom are impeccably dressed..."
Rehin thus criticized by inplication recent Yale regulations limiting class-cutting by upperclassmen, admonishing students to look attentive in class rooms, and abolishing fabled Derby Day.
The same week the Silliman Council, according to a member, "cast a unanimous vote of censure of the method by which this ruling was enacted. This is not to say we are against the ruling. But we are most definitely against the undemocratic manner in which this coat and tie regulation was brought about, just as we take our stand against the paternalistic manner in which the cut system was reorganized and the authoritarian abolition of Derby Day."
Another Davenport group, known only as "Little Bohemia," joined with the Vigilantes in satirizing the rule in a letter which appeared in the News March 8. "What will be the next campus instance of the curtailment of Academic Freedom? What future authoritarian "taste control will be imposed? It's about time the Silent Generation took up arms against a sea of troubles."
The News, apparently deluged by a flood of letters which it did not print, began to get weary of the whole issue. A letter from one Harris L. Coulter '54 March 15 argued. "The Lower Court and Little Bahemia letters were funny, but that should have been the end of it. I hope this letter will be."
Commented the laconic. Time-influenced, tabloid-size Yalie Daily. "It is--Ed."