Walter Olson’s “Yale and the Puritanism of ‘Social Justice’” (op-ed, March 7) is wrong about the intent of Yale’s policies and its practices. As the dean of undergraduate admissions for Yale, I can say that civic engagement on issues of public concern is consistent with attributes my office seeks in the high-school students it admits. Yale considers each disciplinary action reported by a student or a student’s school in the context of the student’s full application, and students who are disciplined for missing school for any reason will certainly have an opportunity to explain the circumstances to the admissions committee. Admission decisions will not be rescinded as a result of an absence to participate in peaceful civic engagement, regardless of the issue or cause. This is not the only attribute we look for, and never said it was, despite Mr. Olson’s false contention.
Contrary to the op-ed, Yale does not adhere to a specific ideology of social justice. The university does, however, expect its students to be engaged citizens. And students who advocate for legislative action to improve their communities demonstrate the sort of engaged citizenship Yale values—regardless of their ideology or the specifics of the policies they support.
Yale’s motto is Lux et Veritas, light and truth. We hope the Journal editorial page believes in the same.
Dean of undergraduate admissions and financial aid
New Haven, Conn.
Several years ago one of my children, highly conservative in his political opinions, faced a dilemma while writing his essay for admission to the University of Michigan. That essay asked how he would add to the diversity of the U of M community. As a Caucasian, upper-middle-class child of two professionals, privileged in his upbringing and the product of an elite, private secondary school, he didn’t believe he could honestly add anything to the university’s diversity.
I suggested he simply say that the liberal majority at the U of M would need someone in class to argue with and denigrate for conservative views. He was granted admission but chose to attend another institution.
Mark H. Haimann
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.