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Yale Wimps Out Again

A T-shirt calling Harvard men "sissies" proves too offensive for students and administrators.

by
Robert Shibley

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December 29, 2009 - 12:00 am
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It was the source of an athletic taunt that could only have originated in the Ivy League:

“I want to go to Princeton,” said Amory. “I don’t know why, but I think of all Harvard men as sissies, like I used to be, and all Yale men as wearing big blue sweaters and smoking pipes.”

Monsignor chuckled.

“I’m one, you know.”

“Oh, you’re different — I think of Princeton as being lazy and good-looking and aristocratic — you know, like a spring day. Harvard seems sort of indoors — ”

“And Yale is November, crisp and energetic,” finished Monsignor.

“That’s it.”

They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.

— F. Scott Fitzgerald, Princeton X ’17, This Side of Paradise

Take a look at that passage. Can you identify the part that was recently deemed too offensive to repeat on an American college campus? Look hard.

Give up? Let’s go to the Yale Daily News:

The [Freshman Class Council] has decided to change the design of its shirts after the original design, which was submitted by students and voted on by the freshman class, sparked outcry from members within the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. …

The original design, which won out over five other entries, displayed an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote in the front — “I think of all Harvard men as sissies” — in bold white letters. The back of the long-sleeved, navy blue T-shirt said “WE AGREE” in capital letters, with “The Game 2009” scrawled in script underneath it.

That’s right — a T-shirt calling Harvard men “sissies” proved too offensive for Yale students and administrators, who seem to have somehow come by the impression that a college football game is an occasion for behavioral civility that the rest of us would reserve for a funeral. One student, who would clearly be beside himself were he to attend a Philadelphia Flyers game, pointed out that the word “sissies” was “offensive” and “demeaning,” and added that he considered the word to be a “thinly veiled anti-gay slur.”

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