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Women in the Whiffenpoofs? Hold that note

Skull and Bones is “Not Just For White Dudes Anymore,” the Atlantic reported last week. Traditionalists, have no fear: Yale’s other most prestigious senior society—the Whiffenpoofs—is still just for dudes (though not just white men).

Two women auditioned recently for tenor parts in the 104-year-old a cappella singing group, the Yale Daily News reports. Neither was chosen. But “everyone who auditioned was seriously considered,” Whiffenpoofs business manager Max Henke ’14 told the News in an e-mail.

One of the disappointed auditioners, Sara Hendel ’14, argues that the Whiffenpoofs do a disservice not only to female singers seeking the best opportunities, but also to the university as a whole, by remaining all-male for more than 40 years after Yale College began admitting women.

“The Whiffs are the way the world views Yale, especially now that a cappella is all over TV and film,” Hendel writes in a Yale Daily op-ed. “A group that is so visible to the world continues to portray Yale as a dated, old boy’s club.”

(One way the Whiffs have evolved: they’re not really for seniors anymore, but rather 'tweeners. Members “take a year-long leave from Yale College due to their rigorous touring schedule,” the News notes.)

Adding female tenors would change the Whiffs’ fraternal experience, but it might not change the group’s sound drastically. One current Whiffenpoof, however, suggests that a musical change might be a good idea.

“It’s a hundred years later,” says McKay Nield ’14. “Let’s give them a new product.”

Filed under Whiffenpoofs, Yale College
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