iv. The Institution

The following section contains excerpts from the administration’s 2020-2021 Action Items for the YSoA Curriculum.

“Core studio faculty clearly communicate[s] the specific intent of each studio and the pedagogical reasons why exercises are framed as they are.” Rate the clarity of the pedagogical intent of each core studio.
not at all affected 5
4
3
2 extremely affected 1

3.19

not at all affected 5
4
3
2 extremely affected 1

2.93

white

not at all affected 5
4
3
2 extremely affected 1

3.35

bipoc

not at all affected 5
4
3
2 extremely affected 1

2.93

white

not at all affected 5
4
3
2 extremely affected 1

3.35

bipoc

not at all affected 5
4
3
2 extremely affected 1

2.88

us

not at all affected 5
4
3
2 extremely affected 1

3.69

us

not at all affected 5
4
3
2 extremely affected 1

3.24

English as Primary Language

not at all affected 5
4
3
2 extremely affected 1

3.10

English as Secondary Language

White

“I feel attempts to change the curriculum won’t actually be satisfactory until those with specific academic experience and research are able to contribute to curricular change. For example, the Modern Architecture curriculum. Someone from outside the school doing this work needs to be brought in. It is too much to ask existing faculty to know how to produce the needed changes if it is not their academic research focus.”
—US Female

“We are given resources and encouraged to consider the socio-economic and environmental contexts of our projects, but then are expected to use these resources on our own time, without integration into assignments. This makes managing time to properly engage with such topics difficult and overwhelming.”
—US Female

BIPOC

“The general trajectory of the Core studio sequence is relatively clear, though I am not sure how successful it is at accomplishing these goals. Specifically, the relationship between Core 1 and Core 2 could perhaps be clarified; in some ways, it feels like the two are parallel rather than sequential approaches to beginning a graduate architectural education.”
—International Asian Male

The School work[s] with the Building Project team to more actively engage client, neighborhood, and an understanding of New Haven as a city as well as its history and social dynamics, into the course curriculum.

8% The Building Project achieves these goals.
32% The Building Project achieves some of these goals.
40% The Building Project achieves a select few of these goals.
21% The Building Project does not achieve any of these goals.

White

“The Building Project has been one of the main highlights of my time at YSoA. The magnitude of the project is incredibly important– to serve those who are most vulnerable in our surrounding community. I think the community aspect could take even more weight (compared to the architectural aspect) with this course in the years to come, just because of how valuable it is to see the ramifications of our work outside of the academic setting.”
—US Female

“BP was a hot mess. After speaking with Adam and Alex at length about it though, they did (for the most part) try their best. I appreciate their efforts to connect with us and respond to what we wanted to learn- especially during the summer.”
—US Female

“I was surprised to see that BP is literally held together by a thread by Adam, who is simultaneously running a practice and raising a family while working WAY more than 40 hours a week over the summers. If BP is such a special part of Yale’s curriculum, why does the logistical burden and stress of the program fall almost entirely on just one man’s shoulders?”
—US Female

“I think Building Project should either scrap the initial ‘research’ phase or take it seriously and invest real energy in teaching research methods and self-reflexivity. As it occurred this year, students were given very little direction and so cherry-picked information as fast as we could, often inaccurately and in extractive ways. This did not set us up for engaging thoughtfully throughout the semester; it also reinforced the very town-and-gown politics that the course purports to address.

Further, the course could have such a positive impact on student approaches to group work if it took the time to incorporate strategies for collaboration, facilitation, and team work into the curriculum. Instead, students are thrown in together with no resources for relating to each other, organizing ourselves, or addressing inevitable conflict. At least in 2021, class cohesion and relationships were noticeably frayed by the end of the semester.”
—US Female

BIPOC

“The aspect of BP that bothers me the most is that the funding amount used to design and build a single house could likely cover the costs of five less ‘designed’ homes for residents. I understand that the course needs to teach students design– this is architecture school after all– but there should be transparency about how much ‘good’ the program is doing for the community.”
—US Biracial Female

“The Building Project could be more radical. Instead, it is a stagnant machine littering New Haven with its slanted roof topology.”
—US Black Female

“The altruistic, community-oriented and empathy-based approach in the beginning of BP isn’t there in the later design process. It still feels very much like a competition and a fight to get the instructor’s attention. It’s the course’s intention that we will learn everything about construction and producing construction documents, but the class isn’t set up that way. There’s no comprehensive teaching. It’s still an easy game for people who’ve done it before and a blindfolded lonely journey for those who haven’t.”
—International Asian Female

“If this house is for the homeless community, then why are they not present from the start of the project? Why is there no ‘real client’? And I’m not talking about Columbus House, I’m talking about real people. If you were to design a house for the wealthy, they would be there having a voice from start to finish. What is the process for choosing who inhabits the house? Why doesn’t the faculty even know about this process?

Asking students to nominate group ‘representatives’ seems to be innocuous on first glance. But has anyone considered that this automatically puts students whose first language isn’t English at a disadvantage? Also shouldn’t the faculty be making an effort to engage in conversation with all students in the group? It was extremely disappointing to feel that the BP faculty were not interested in getting to know all students. If you need evidence, look no further than our student evaluation sheets, which were left completely blank and were clearly filled in less than 30 seconds.”
—International Asian Male

“I think there should be more scope and understanding given in terms of: zoning, planning and what it takes to get a building built in NH. There are things that should be discussed and taught more transparently. It almost feels like we get some magical site and pot of money and poof we have a design to build straight away.”
—International Black Male

Which of the following statements best describes your understanding of the criteria by which student work is considered and judged for awards and fellowships?

5% I clearly understand.
24%. I somewhat understand.
71%. I do not understand.

white

71% I do not understand.

bipoc

71% I do not understand.

YSoA’s process for giving second-year and graduation awards and fellowships is:

19% Somewhat fair to fair
47% Neither fair nor unfair
34% Somewhat unfair to unfair

white

21% Somewhat unfair to unfair

bipoc

41% Somewhat unfair to unfair

white

21% Somewhat unfair to unfair

bipoc

41% Somewhat unfair to unfair

us

63% Somewhat unfair to unfair

international Intl

30% Somewhat unfair to unfair

White

“The distribution of awards is totally opaque and appears to favor students with closer personal or working relationships with the administration. I cringe every time an award with a monetary payment goes to someone who attended expensive private schools or is from a comfortable family. I’m saddened by how awards stoke competitive dynamics among students. The award system represents the worst in ego-driven architectural design. The real award I’d celebrate is the abolition of individual awards.”
—US Male

“The descriptions of the awards on the website are not at all informative or descriptive of what the award is for, much less why someone actually merits it. I received an award at graduation and have genuinely no clue why I was specifically chosen. There should be specific statements about award criteria publicly available in addition to specific statements for why a given student was chosen.”
—US Female

BIPOC

“What awards and fellowships? M.E.D.s are locked out of all of them. We’re the ones with two-year international research projects, yet we don’t qualify for any travel funding other than a paltry $1500 we are "given" and are expected to look to external sources to pay the rest of the way.”
—US Asian Male

“It would have been great if I knew these awards existed. It is quite similar to what I heard from international students who graduated. Awards were never mentioned officially before the announcement email, and the requirements often seemed like we should have prepared for them much earlier.”
—International Asian Female

Reflecting on the past year, in your opinion, which of the following statements best describes the YSoA administration’s efforts at reform?

5% The administration is committed to major institutional change.
49% The administration is committed to moderate institutional change.
34% The administration is committed to minimal institutional change.
12% The administration is not committed to institutional change.

white

50% The administration is either commited to minimal change, or not committed to institutional change.

bipoc

44% The administration is either commited to minimal change, or not committed to institutional change.

White

“The administration seemed to address concerns only after student groups called for the changes. To be quite frank, I don’t believe YSoA as an institution has done much to change for the long term. There have been baby steps at progress but the whole framework of the school is rooted in 19th Century Europe, so it will take more than having a couple BIPOC critics sprinkled in to make any meaningful change.”
—US Male

“Without students pushing, I don’t know that anything would have been addressed by the school. I wish the school would accept some responsibility in understanding their role to address these kinds of issues on their own, so students feel supported rather than burdened to immediately take action after traumatic events.”
—US Female

“There are many other issues missing from this list that deserve response from the school. In other words, it should not take student action to elicit recognition of oppression and racial violence in our world.”
—US Female

“Students and faculty at YSOA show a compassion for others as long as it doesn’t affect their ideas, space or cause them to change anything that they do. As soon as one of these things is disrupted, anger fills the void and it results in agitation, defensiveness and dismissal of opinions. The people who do not follow this trend are typically international students and who I find much more interesting to talk to because they care.”
—International Female

“Personally, many of these conversations and ideas were unearthed during my design process and projects. I found it difficult to talk with others regarding some of these [student] groups. More due to the difficulty of the conversations than from any specific resistance.”
—US Male

BIPOC

“The school seems to confuse ‘inclusivity’ and ‘diversity’ for spices that may be sprinkled in ad hoc (via one-off seminars or BIPOC students and visiting faculty), when the entire recipe still reeks of stale, male Eurocentrism and needs to be reworked from scratch.”
—US Asian Female

“I believe that students tend to have highly reactionary responses to current events. The School is not responsible for everything that happens in the world. While statements condemning world violence and discrimination and in support of students helps ally the former with the latter’s views, I don’t believe it’s the School’s responsibility to fix the world. Students have to be a little more patient with getting an appropriate response. That being said, I think the School could work on being transparent with students.”
—US Biracial Female

“The response [from the administration] feels empty at the moment and not directly addressing these issues in relation to the atmosphere/environment at YSoA.”
—US Biracial Nonbinary

“I want to say that the school did everything they could to make the most of this past academic year, but having graduated, I can now point to a mound of unresolved requests, empty promises, and straight up lies from the admin. I see how hard they work (especially Tanial...), but at the end of the day I am disappointed. Now that we’ve gone, I’m sure it’s a huge relief to them.”
—US Biracial Female

“I would like to commend all students for their bravery and candor. I have never seen a group of people so proactive and tactfully demanding in encouraging meaningful change. I am always taken aback, and I’m lucky to be a contributor [...] I get the impression that administration is steering a very large ship, and change is being made no doubt- but very slowly.”
—International Black Male