Yale Alumni Magazine 'Students From Poor Families' Cover Draws Fire

 
Yale Alumni Magazine cover Jan/Feb 2014 Source: TheAtlantic.com

Yale Alumni Magazine cover Jan/Feb 2014 Source: TheAtlantic.com

NEW HAVEN--The Yale Alumni Magazine is taking heat for a cover story this month about Yale’s efforts to attract high-achieving students from poor families.

Critics on social media, as well as The Atlantic magazine and a criminal law researcher from Harvard Law School, are crying foul over the cover itself. It features a headline that reads, “Reaching beyond the low-hanging fruit,” along with the subhead, “Yale College seeks smart students from poor families. They’re out there — but hard to find.”

The story, written by 2006 Yale graduate David Zax, explores the issue of how Yale goes about recruiting and enrolling students from lower-income backgrounds. Last week, the university was part of a White House summit on expanding such efforts nationally.

“The most immediately obvious problem with the cover, of course, is that it casts poor students as fruit to be picked, as desirable consumer goods, rather than fully formed, intrinsically valuable human beings,” The Atlantic wrote in a piece published Thursday.

“Another problem is subtler but possibly more upsetting for the magazine’s intended audience: Yale graduates,” The Atlantic critique continued. “Saying smart, low-income students are ‘out there’ implies that they’re not ‘in here’—as in, they’re not part of the Yale community already. They’re on the outside, waiting to be let in.”

Also taking issue was Sara Mayeux, the Berger-Howe legal history fellow at Harvard Law School, who tweeted and blogged about the cover and story.

“I don’t know that any Ivy League school is as sensitive as it could be in reaching out to potential students from poor backgrounds, but even within that context this cover struck me as unusually tone-deaf,” said Mayeux, reached Thursday via email.

Mayeux said the cover “implies that there just aren’t very many Yale-caliber kids from poorer backgrounds, so it’s Yale that has the difficulty finding them — as though they are needles in a haystack.”

The magazine’s editor, Kathrin Day Lassila, acknowledged criticism over the cover Thursday.

“We tried very hard on this cover — we knew it was a difficult subject — but it’s clear from reaction we’re getting to the illustration and the headlines that they didn’t hit the mark,” Lassila said. “However, we’re proud of the article and we think David Zax’s reporting and writing are terrific, and we hope the reaction to the cover won’t obscure the issues raised in the article.”

See the full story at the New Haven Register online.

 

Yale Alumni Magazine 'Students From Poor Families' Cover Draws Fire

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