Evelyn Behling - Intercollegiate Studies Institute: Think. Live Free.

Evelyn Behling

YALE UNIVERSITY, Class of 2017

Things to know about Evelyn

Evelyn “Evy” Behling, originally from Rockford, Illinois, studies Humanities at Yale University. At Yale she has been involved in one of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) societies on campus, known as the Federalist Party of the Yale Political Union, since her freshman year. This year as a senior, she serves as a freshman counselor for Trumbull, her residential college, helping incoming students from all over the world adjust to life at Yale. She is also involved in Yale’s Catholic community and hopes to one day develop a foundation to support Catholic intellectual and cultural life in America.

“ISI takes the lost art of hospitality seriously, and this is a great part of its success.”

How did you find out about ISI?

During my sophomore year, an alumna friend of mine connected me to an ISI-Liberty Fund weekend conference on Liberty, Progressivism, and the Administrative State. I was immediately hooked to the ISI community by the quality and depth of the conversation (and of course by the wonderful, high-quality book giveaways). I knew I had to be connected to these thoughtful young defenders of “ordered liberty” who were being developed by ISI’s professors and staff.

What was the highlight of your undergraduate experience?

There have been many exciting moments of my undergraduate experience, but my favorite ones have been singing traditional Yale songs with the members of my ISI society every semester when we have our alumni banquets. I look forward to carrying on the tradition now that I too will be an alumna. (A close second would be presenting my senior thesis research on the interaction of politics and religion in the Italian Unification to the members of my residential college.)

What have you valued most about ISI?

ISI has consistently invested in my personal and intellectual growth during my college years and connected me to people I hope to call friends for the rest of my life. My favorite moment with ISI was the cookout hosted at the Kirby Center at the end of my Honors Conference last summer, where we had a bonfire as the sun set. We recounted all the insights we had gained and memories we had made during the week over live, impromptu guitar music. ISI takes the lost art of hospitality seriously, and this is a great part of its success.

How have you spent your summers while in college?

The summer after my freshman year I studied Italian on the island of Grado between Venice and Trieste in the Adriatic Sea, living with a wonderful host family and learning a lot about Italian culture. Following my sophomore year, I studied politics on campus in New Haven and worked as a campus tour guide and as a duster in the Yale University Art Gallery. Last summer, I was a participant in the excellent Hertog Political Studies Program in Washington, D.C., and of course, attended the ISI Honors Program in Wilmington, Delaware.

Whom do you admire most, and why?

I admire Ross Douthat for his perceptive, compelling writing at the New York Times, and for the witness to thoughtful conservatism he’s been able to make there as their youngest, most dynamic columnist. Mr. Douthat’s intellectual honesty, humility, and wit appeal to audiences aside from those who immediately agree with him, and that ability to speak to a cross-sectional audience is all too rare these days.

What advice would you give to other students who want to preserve the principles of liberty?

Find a group of friends who share similar beliefs to your own and will help you deepen them through debate and activism. Do not be afraid to interact with people who have very different beliefs from your own. As long as there is a common basis of respect, dialogue deepens everyone’s knowledge of the truth. Our duty as conservatives is to live in our moment and beyond it. Enliven our times with the transcendent insights of history, philosophy, theology, and tradition. Strengthen yourself by the pursuit of those insights and carry the peace and wisdom they bring you to your fellow-travelers.