Yik Yak: One of Whitman’s harshest critics

Hailey Livingston, Columnist

A few weeks ago, Wire Reporter Grace Jackson wrote “The Yak is back on campus”, an article introducing us to the most infamous app on campus—Yik Yak. Yik Yak is an anonymous Twitter/Ask.fm hybrid. Users can send a message, anonymously, and users within the same 5-mile radius can read it. There’s no way of knowing who said what; heck, there’s no way of knowing who is even on the app.

Since students have arrived on campus, Yik Yak has been booming. It’s perfect for a school like Whitman! We’re all within the same 5 miles of each other, we all know the same drama and we all know the same Whitman College scandals. Our campus is the perfect environment for a Yak to thrive.

Illustration by Ally Kim.

That said, an app like Yik Yak is also going to cause a lot of controversies. Any given day, you can find a Yik Yak claiming that the app is stupid and meaningless. That may be true—there’s a lot of Yik Yaks about meaningless shit. Literally, people love to talk about their bowel movements on the app. Regardless, there’s no denying that Yik Yak sheds light on the issues Whitman administration and students like to ignore. 

It only seems fitting to get some funny Yaks out of the way. “Just had sex in Penrose and it was way too easy,” is pretty hilarious, but also, how are students managing to hook up in the library? The Princeton Review awarded Whitman the “Best College Library” as one of our school’s defining characteristics. I’ve gotta say, that Yik Yak is making Penrose sound like quite the place, award-winning even. 

That is part of the beauty of Yik Yak, the posts can range anywhere from serious to funny. Last week a student wrote, “Everyone should boycott Cleve and shit until they lower their prices or improve food.” That is a great point! Too often we hear students complaining about the prices of dining hall food, stressing about running out of flex. It’s strange that a school costing nearly 70K a year still has students stressing about paying for meals. 

I’m pretty sure we’ve paid Whitman enough. That’s not even to mention the quality of the food. Chunky miso soup? That doesn’t sound worthy of $10. For more information on Whitman’s dining hall scurfuffles, check out “Cleveland commons only pretends to be diverse on their menu.” 

On Oct. 12, a student wrote “Fun fact: Whitman doesn’t know how to support trans people.” Every year, the Princeton Review regards Whitman as one of the most liberal institutions in the United States. Did you know that you can’t change your name on MyWhitman unless it is also on your payment forms? 

A transgender student wanting to be called their preferred name doesn’t have that option unless they have already taken legal action to change their name. What about students that aren’t out to their parents yet? How exhausting must it be to explain to professors and other students that your MyWhitman name is dead, but you can’t change it because your family doesn’t support you? Whitman is supposed to be a place of acceptance, not obstacles. Not even to mention a transgender student’s diploma will state their dead name, not their preferred name. I never would have known that if it weren’t for Yik Yak, and we should be mad for our peers!

Yik Yak doesn’t just call out admin’s problems, it also draws attention to issues among student groups. Someone wrote, “what does aswc even do?” That’s a great question. I’m not trying to imply that ASWC is useless and does nothing, but as an organization that is supported through student fees, shouldn’t their impact be obvious? What does ASWC do?

There’s no way I can write an article on Yik Yak without addressing the endless Yaks about our beloved Kathy Murray. Similar to ASWC, the controversy surrounding Kathy comes solely from a lack of information on her position. A concerned student shared, “Kathy Murray makes almost half a million a year… ($466,718 according to the last tax filing) thoughts and feelings?” Again, I am not trying to imply Miss Kathy does nothing; she is the President of Whitman for a reason. That said, students shouldn’t have to question why she makes so much. That should be clearly presented to the student body.

I’m not trying to argue that Yik Yak should be our new student handbook, but maybe we should take it more seriously. Okay, we don’t need to take the upfront stupid Yik Yaks seriously, but despite its funny facade, it does allow Whitman students to say what they need to say in an unfiltered and true manner. Whitman administration, maybe you should give the Yak a look!