Are Miye Oni and Jordan Bruner the last freshmen to play basketball for Yale?

Yale guard Miye Oni (24) drives around Pittsburgh forward Sheldon Jeter (21) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016, in Pittsburgh.(AP Photo/Fred Vuich)

Miye Oni and Jordan Bruner may turn out to have been Yale’s last two freshmen basketball stars. In the season just ended they, along, with Austin Williams and Eric Monroe, may be the final members of a Yale basketball team who could be labeled as freshmen by its college.

Oni and Bruner were a big factor enabling the Bulldogs to overcome the loss through graduation of Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod, among others. Oni and Bruner showed enough ability that could help to make Yale an Ivy power in the next three years. Oni contributed a slam dunk in the Ivy Tournament game against Harvard that was highlighted on ESPN’s SportsCenter as a dunk of the day.

But there may be no more incoming freshmen to match what Oni and Bruner accomplished during this past season. Not if Yale’s Dean of Student Affairs, Camille Lizarribar, prevails.

Freshmen have been a Yale tradition

Freshmen athletics at Yale, as well as other activities, used to be a prominent activity. The freshmen teams were known as the Bullpups, and they competed in all sports against other colleges, all of whom also fielded similar teams.

On another level, back in my time at Yale and long before, there was, and may still be, a popular drinking song that began with the words, “As freshmen first we came to Yale.” Is that song going to be outdated with the switch over? Or maybe the opening line will be modified to “As first-year students we came to Yale.” Almost sacrilegious to a Yalie.

The truth be told

Yale fans, relax! It’s not what it appears to be, and if you feel tricked into reading this article, our apologies are extended. Basketball Coach James Jones and his fellow Yale mentors, including Keith Allain (hockey), Tony Reno (football), and John Stuper (baseball), have no cause to worry.

While we may not hear of any more freshmen athletes playing for the Bulldogs, it is only the name that would change.

Dean Lizarribar wants to do away with the words “freshman,” and freshmen,” claiming they limit the description to males only. She wants the university and, apparently, the media, to call them by what they actually are, by actual definition, first-year students. Those words, she points out are “gender-neutral.” Never mind that they require substituting three words for one. Unfortunately it’s where our language seems to be headed.

There would also be a problem, which Lizarribar apparently did not address, in using “first-year students.” Those are words which are currently used for Yale transfer and graduate students at Yale, as well. Those people are not the same as what we are now calling freshmen, yet all three classifications would be included, under the definition, as “first-years.” This I do not believe is Lizarribar’s purpose.

Lizarribar wants the changeover quickly

Lizarribar told the Yale Daily News that the University’s administrators are committed to the new terminology and that she hopes the change will be introduced before the next academic year. “It’s not written in stone that it has to be ‘freshman’ . . . Dartmouth, Cornell and Amherst have already discontinued using ‘freshman,’ she said to justify her viewpoint.

Endorsement from another Dean

The Dean of Yale College, Jonathan Holloway, who will become Provost at Northwestern University on July 1st, said that for as long as he can remember he has heard complaints from parents and students that the terminology, which continued after Yale started admitting women as students in 1968, is gender-specific. He believes that the interest in making a switch has been stimulated by Lizarribar’s efforts.

“I have no problem with that,” Holloway said in support of the new wording.

Does that mean he will encourage that Northwestern also discontinue referring to first-year students as freshmen?

Student views

Students interviewed by the college newspaper expressed mixed reactions to the potential change.

Vicki Beizer, a sophomore and the public relations coordinator for Yale’s Women’s Center, said the language change is not a pressing concern.
Isaac Amend, a senior and member of Trans@Yale, believes that the use of “first-year” would be a positive symbolic move. He would more than welcome the change to ‘first-year.’”

Abby Dutton, a senior, recalled that students in her high school were encouraged to “first-year” rather than “freshman.”
Aadit Vyas, a freshman (whoops), said the language change would be a “fair move,” but that it would take some time for “first-year” to catch on with the student community.

Reader views

Meanwhile, the article has provoked stringent criticism from alumni and/or readers, such as:
“How tedious has this University become?”
“Yale needs two new deans:
(1) Dean for fixing things that are not a problem.
(2) Dean for worrying about what things are called rather than worrying about why Yale is becoming so second-rate;”

“Every year I get a call from Yale asking why I haven’t donated recently. It’s good to have fresh answers every time.”


“I will live stream the burning of my Yale diploma when freshmen are called ‘first-years.'”

o •
“How idiotic! The term ‘freshman’ has been used for at least a century at co-ed and even women’s schools all over the country. It is no more gender-specific than the term ‘mankind.'”

What about the upper-class students?

If those looking for change are successful, will Miye Oni andJordan Bruder still be sophomores next season, then juniors and seniors after that? Or will somebody find something gender-specific about those words, too. Then we would be expected to call them second-year, third-year and fourth-year students.

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