Some of you may remember the old computer game, “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?” (now more than 25 years old, if you can believe it!). Well, when I am away from campus and on the road, you may wonder, “Where in the World is President Salovey?” As it happens, I spent several days about a week ago in Washington, DC, meeting with the members of Congress who are graduates of Yale. There are eleven members of the House of Representatives and seven Senators with Yale ties, and I was able to spend some one-on-one time with many of them. The “Yale delegation” sits on both sides of the aisle, but they are united in their fond memories of their time on campus.
I spoke with our elected officials about three issues: federal funding for research, immigration reform, and support for student aid (especially the Pell Grant program and student loan interest rates). I was just off the floor of the Senate while it was debating the interest rate compromise bill. The Yale delegation had thoughtful and encouraging comments on all of these issues. Our Representatives and Senators spoke openly, however, about their frustrations with how polarized Congress has become and their concerns about the fall session.
I would like to think that something they all have in common – experiences at Yale involving listening, careful reasoning, and collaboration – can contribute to an open-mindedness that might become a model of bipartisan engagement.