The Week of the Yalien Invasion: A Reaction Rundown and Why They Win


Maybe you’ve noticed the assault. No, not the hipsters abusing the Chinese people, though maybe there is some overlap. The real issue is more extraterrestrial than entitled NYU students, who are practically native at this point. It’s the Yaliens — they’re everywhere, taking over New York City (and the world). But this week it was particularly bad — not only are Yaliens your boss, they’re also all up in your news media. Besides some drunk dude’s lost cell phone, kids from Yale won Most Ubiquitous this week. How did this happen?

It all started where every dubious cultural trend does in this fair city: The New York Observer, in all its pink-papered glory.

As graduates of Ivy League colleges prepare en masse to descend on Manhattan for summer internships, it is worth noting the special quirks of the Yalie–the Yalien–a foreign creature characterized by a set of elusive, contradictory traits that separate him from everyone else clawing for power in this city.

And so begins “The Yaliens Among Us,” an extensive rundown of all of the great jobs held by Yale graduates, quotes used to set up the job titles of Yale graduates and the hopes and dream jobs of Yale graduates. Plus, how they compare to alumni from elsewhere. Meaning just Harvard. They have bad jokes, but better, more creative jobs! They know the chill bars, and profess their ownership over them. They drink like the proletariat and value “a deep streak of rebelliousness.” Like, have you seen The Skulls?

A close reading reveals the piece as a mirror of expectations. That is to say, it’s purposefully vague and amorphous enough to fit snuggly with your preconceived notions about this particular group of privileged youth. Care to imagine the Yaliens as painfully out of touch, lacking self-awareness and pathetically poised to succeed in spite of it all? It’s easy. And let them help: “New York is Yale’s backyard,” one alum says. “It’s something you take for granted–you’re fish, so you swim in the ocean.” Like rainbow fish in Perrier.

And yet, all of these words! They signify importance, do they not? To see the successes of the Yaliens cataloged and analyzed — these are people of interest. Impressive, certainly. “They’re very solid citizens,” admits a famous rival. And so the reactions poured in, mostly tepid:

There was fun to be poked, of course. (Ironic Justin Bieber posters, Botanica, etc.) The student paper played it safe, but enjoyed a Harvard dig. Even Ivy Gate, perhaps wincing a bit, played the self-deprecation card in a motion in the direction of humility, admitting that the Yalies come off in the piece, “pretty much the way this blog does…unfailingly elitist and remain enclosed in their own private universe.” But did you hear about those quadruplets?! You get the idea that without the appearance of a strong counter-argument, the Yaliens were pretty happy with their moment, overall.

But New York‘s resident online Yalien, Chris Rovzar of Daily Intel, seemed a little miffed and dismissive of the piece, asking in his headline, “You Know What’s More Obnoxious Than Yale Grads in New York Thinking They Are Special?” Answer: “Elitism-obsessed Harvard grads in New York who think anybody else, much less readers of an actual newspaper published by adults, cares what they think about their college-age rival.” A dig, of course, at the original article’s author, a Harvard graduate. And yet…

Just a day prior, Rovzar wrote on Intel — a news blog — under the headline “Yale Publishing Course Will Be International, Business-Oriented,” an interview with a professor about a new class. Maybe the Yale Daily News doesn’t accept freelance work from old friends? “Whoa stumbled onto the wrong blog,” wrote a commenter. …readers of an actual [blog] published by adults…

But in his ability to have his Yale and eat it, too, Rovzar teaches us an important lesson: No matter what, the Yaliens win. And Harvard, too. Because the ability to create a mini-media narrative — or to have one be about you — might be the most important New York skill of all. Resistance, as they say, is futile.

So they’ve been chronicled, thus celebrated, dodged any major takedowns and are, above all else, gainfully employed or soon-to-be. What’s to be ultimately made of this madness, this brief moment in the sun? In another unfair twist, the Yaliens get to decide, which they almost certainly did at a celebration just last night to round-out their big week. “How great it feels to be so humble and grounded and exceptionally nice!” read the Facebook invite. Oh, to be a fly on the wall at that outing. Alas, I went to NYU.