Yale’s website defines plagiarism as “the use of someone else’s work, words, or ideas as if they were one’s own.” It is a pity, then, that poor Reverend Thomas Clap—president of Yale from 1740-1766—didn’t live long enough to use the internet. Indeed, it is clear that Reverend Clap’s tenure belied the moral rectitude that his forbearers had intended to uphold by abandoning their alma mater for the Lyme Disease-infested fields of Connecticut. It was during the 26 debaucherous years of the Clap administration that Yale constructed that brazen monument to deceit and misrepresentation known today as Connecticut Hall.
Connecticut Hall, constructed in 1752, bears, shall we say, a striking resemblance to a certain brick building wedged between Johnston Gate and Matthews Hall. What is its name? Oh, yes, Massachusetts Hall—and it was built 32 years earlier. Yalies have been griping for the better part of 311 years about living in the shadow of Harvard. Yet, how can they hope to escape unfavorable comparison to their neighbor to the north when the oldest building on their campus is but an inferior imitation of Massachusetts Hall? For the sake of integrity and for the sake of Yalie mental health, we recommend that Yale immediately demolish Connecticut Hall.
One can imagine the conversation: “Hey, Eli, what should we name our new building?” “Gee, Gurdon, I’m fresh out of ideas! What’s the name of that pretty Harvard building what’s got all the bricks?” “I think they call it ‘Massachusetts Hall.’” “Oh, then we’ll call ours Connecticut Hall!” While imitation is the highest form of flattery, such brazen replication is uncreative at best and aesthetically offensive at worst.
Perhaps the most heinous feature of Connecticut Hall is the window trimming. It’s as if they thought painting the windows black would prevent people from noticing its striking similarity to America’s oldest college building, whose windows are dressed in white. Sadly, it does not. Quite to the contrary, it has just accentuated the flagrant mimicry that has characterized Yale since the first brick of Connecticut Hall was placed on its foundation.
Yale’s decidedly masturbatory “Architecture of Yale” web page confesses that “Connecticut Hall is in many ways a Harvard building.” Admitting there is a problem is an excellent first step. If Yale wants to forge an identity outside the shadow of Harvard, it must first rename its plagiaristic flagship building. Black window trimming cannot mask three centuries of deceit. Maybe a bulldozer can.