Restore Light and Truth at Yale

Restore Light and Truth at Yale

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Gail Lavielle started this petition to Members of the Yale Corporation

Members of the Yale Corporation,

We write to object vigorously to your decision to abolish the petition process for the Alumni Fellow Election. Yale’s charter grants alumni the ability to elect one trustee each year. Your decision has turned that election into one where ballot access is exclusively controlled by only 13 of the 160,405 total qualified alumni electors and that permits candidates to communicate no information about themselves, other than a brief biographical sketch. Such an election is not an election. It is a travesty that makes a mockery of lux et veritas.

Your statement justifying your decision theorizes that petition candidates would be “challenged to do the work of a fiduciary” but fails to acknowledge the reality that at least one current member of the Corporation has millions of dollars in conflicts of interest. According to tax filings, between July 2016 and June 2019, the investment firm of one trustee collected $42,895,985 from Yale. Your concerns about petition candidates’ inability to exercise independent judgment appear to be misplaced. 

The most recent Alumni Fellow Election ballot proudly advertised: “Your Yale, Your Voice, Your Vote.” And yet, while that very election was underway, you voted in secret to disenfranchise alumni. We ask that you live up to your promise and restore the opportunity for alumni to vote in free and open elections. We respectfully call upon you to:

1) Reverse your decision and reinstate the petition process

2) Allow candidates put forward by the Alumni Fellow Nominating Committee to communicate their approach to the role of a Corporation member

3) Provide alumni with sufficient information to cast an informed vote by offering all candidates on the ballot space in the election materials to share their vision and priorities for Yale, hosting candidate forums where alumni can ask questions, and announcing the names of all the candidates well before the election begins 

4) Reduce the onerous number of signatures (nearly 4,500) required for a candidate to get on the ballot by petition

5) Engage alumni, one of Yale’s greatest resources, in reforming the election process through various means such as surveys and listening sessions 

6) Produce evidence that proper notification of the May 18 meeting was provided to all members of the board, including Connecticut’s Governor and Lieutenant Governor, or, if no meeting was held, that written consent for the proposed decision was obtained from all 19 members of the board

7) Introduce and make public a set of criteria for formally vetting successor trustees for conflicts of interest

Rest assured that our intent in making these requests is to support and strengthen the university that we love and want to see thrive and prosper. We come to you as partners, not supplicants, working toward the same cause, and we hope you will recognize that any failure to take our requests seriously and to respond promptly in good faith will have consequences for Yale’s reputation. This is not an outcome we wish to see. In the name of good governance, and of light and truth, we call upon you to join us in acting in Yale’s best interests and in those of all of its stakeholders.


Yale Alumni for Light and Truth

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