Members of Yale University’s historic Whiffenpoofs a cappella singing group announced this week that they will admit their first female member.
The oldest collegiate a cappella group in America, Yale University’s Whiffenpoofs, is set to introduce its first female member. The group was established in 1909 as an all-male singing group. Since then, the Whiffenpoofs have maintained an all-male roster.
Now, after a push for the group to go co-ed in the late 1980s, the Whiffenpoofs will finally introduce their first male member. “I cried when I heard,” David Code, a former member of the group said. “I am thrilled. I am delighted. And most of all, I want to meet this girl. I want to hear her voice.”
“This is something I’ve dreamed about for years. The Whiffenpoofs should have gone coed in 1968, when Yale went coed. Finally, 50 years later, meritocracy is here — and it’s long overdue,” Code added.
“This class of Whiffenpoofs is exceptionally talented, and Sofia is right there with them,” Kenyon Duncan, the group’s music director, said. “I don’t expect everyone to look at the decision and see what we see. But if people judge Sofia based on her quality as a singer, they would reach the same conclusions that we have.”
Others are skeptical of the change. C. Daniel Bergfield, a member of the Whiffenpoofs in 1965, claimed that the change will destroy the group’s signature all-male sound.
“I hope the decision to have alternative genders participate in the Whiffenpoofs was made for artistic and not for political reasons,” Bergfeld said. “I think a downside of this is it might possibly change the sound of the Whiffs, which is an all-male, very robust sound. And that in turn could jeopardize the appeal of the Whiffs in their current marketplace, if you will.”
However, most members of the Yale community are celebrating the decision, looking to it as an indication of social progress. Sofia Campoamor, the female student selected to join the group said that her invitation to join the Whiffenpoofs should only be the beginning of social change at Yale.
“This should be the first step, not the last,” she said. “We haven’t found the right balance yet. This should be about the best singers getting to sing with the greatest possible opportunity, not about gender or voice part.”