In 1954 Life Magazine dubbed J. Press in New Haven the birthplace of the â€œIvy League Look.â€
â€œThe Ivy Look Heads Across U.S.â€ the magazine proclaimed in an anthropological examination of the natural-shouldered suit and its sartorial brethren. They sent photographer Nina Leen to J. Press in New Haven, dubbing it the birthplace of the â€œIvy League Lookâ€ when it opened back in 1902, to see the original in action outfitting Yale men. There she located the founderâ€™s sons, Irving (Yale â€™26) and Paul Press presiding soberly over the premises.
We are always hearing about the Jewish quota at Ivy League schools, but â€¦ the actual extent of the absolutely vital and integral contribution of Jewish Americans of recent immigrant background ought to be reflected upon in the light of the fact that all the great men’s clothiers in New Haven serving the Yale community, who created the national Ivy League style, Rosenberg’s, White’s, Gamer’s, J. Press, and Barrie Ltd (for footwear) were Jewish owned and operated. It wasn’t the WASPs who invented the Ivy League style. It was their Jewish classmates from Yale who, after graduation, became their preferred source of men’s fashion.
The Harvard Crimson uncritically reports the sexual assault survey which proves that it’s a lot more dangerous to send your daughter to an elite Ivy League school than to have her walk home at midnight through the worst neighborhood in Chicago.
But, hey! at least Yale comes out on top!
A national sexual misconduct climate survey administered to universities across the country earlier this year revealed that most schools did not see a significant change in the prevalence of sexual assault compared with incident rates four years ago, according to the results released earlier this month.
The American Association of Universities survey found that among similarly sized peer institutions, Harvardâ€™s rate of sexual misconduct tended toward average.
Harvardâ€™s prevalence rate of â€œnonconsensual sexual contactâ€ for undergraduate women was within a percentage point of both Stanfordâ€™s and Brownâ€™s. Harvard and Stanford both saw rates of roughly 33 percent, while Brownâ€™s rate is 34 percent. Yaleâ€™s rate is higher at 39 percent, while MITâ€™s is lower at 27 percent.
The Baby Boom generation brought irony to the college marching band tradition.
At Yale, our band quit wearing uniforms, abandoned precision formations, and rather than keeping up the old ways, preferred to mock them with a combination of deliberate chaos and obscene symbolism. That’s the Ivy League for you.
One can argue with the choice, of course, but it was perfectly consonant with the old Prep School tradition of “Cool Sophistication Ãœber Alles”.
So, since my day, decades ago, the band game at certain Ivy League schools became “What can we do this game raunchier and more outrageous than we did last week?”
The Columbia Marching Band apparently has been operating in the same manner as the Yale Precision Marching Band: no precision, plenty of raunchy humor. However, the Zeitgeist has changed. Bacchus, Silenus, and the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers have been packed off to the retirement home, and grim, censorious Judge Hawthorne (who has no sense of humor at all) is back and witch-hunting enthusiastically again.
Columbia University has drummed out of existence its famously irreverent marching band â€” known for its phallic formations and cheering for the other team during home games.
Administrators at the Manhattan Ivy League institution warned the renegade band last semester that it needed to apply to become a recognized student group if it wanted any more funding, instead of operating under the auspices of the athletic department.
Skeptical band members say the move was payback for them hitting the wrong notes with higher-ups.
â€œWe are not perfect, but we always try our best to speak truth to power, punch up as much as we can, and I just donâ€™t think thatâ€™s something Columbia wants to hear,â€ said the bandâ€™s travel coordinator, Isabel Sepulveda, 20, to The Post on Friday â€” the eve of the schoolâ€™s first home football game.
The band, for which members donâ€™t have to audition, has been a thorn in the side of administrators for years.
In addition to the off-color formations and cheekily cheering on their schoolâ€™s rivals, the 45-person unit band played CeeLo Greenâ€™s â€œFâ€“k Youâ€™â€™ tune outside Trump Tower in 2016 and knelt during the national anthem at football games last season.
The bawdy music brigade also famously instituted â€œOrgo Night,â€ which involved popping up at the campus library with instruments in hand â€” on the eve of organic-chemistry finals. Orgo is a nickname for organic chemistry.
When campus higher-ups clamped down on the noisy prank, the bandâ€™s website read, â€œSince then, we have performed directly outside the library to make sure no one misses out â€“ especially the Vice Provost.â€
The band defiantly waited till this semester to apply as an independent group, but the school said they were too late. It nixed their already severely reduced budget and banned them from official sporting functions.
Trombone player Quentin Rubel, 20, said, the schoolâ€™s action strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a college student.
â€œThe band has always been a very outspoken source of counter-culturalism on Columbiaâ€™s campus,â€™â€™ he said.
But the school is just as defiant. It is tapping outside entertainment to keep fans engaged during games and creating a new spirit organization to be overseen by a faculty director, band members said.
I once answered a question on Quora about Yale, so pretty much every day I receive a email asking to answer the question “How do I get into Yale?” from some exotic resident of the remote Third World.
Clearly, the mysteries of elite Ivy League admissions are an intriguing topic these days all over the world.
I ran into a Quora posting this morning from a U. Chicago guy named Hasnat, quoting an anonymous Harvard 2006 graduate who had worked in the Harvard Admissions Office.
I thought it pretty accurately captured a home truth applicable to Yale as well, that, beyond grades and test scores (which had better be high), they are looking for a certain kind of exceptionality and competitiveness. They want people out of the ordinary.
I think you need to join Quora and all that to open a link, so I cut-and-pasted the whole bloody thing to make life easier for NYM readers.
[A] little bit of advice.
â€œFirst of all, there are a number of small factors that can move the admissions needle in small amounts: location, economic background, race. You can just accept that these exist and don’t really count for muchâ€”a slight counterbalance to the general advantages that wealthier folks tend to enjoy as a rule. Or you can spend millions of dollars on lawyers and consultants, and hundreds of hours fighting in court in order to claw back this tiny little potential advantage from those in the lower half of the socioeconomic spectrum.
â€œEither way, these are things beyond your control, and I’d recommend not worrying about them. Frankly, it’s the cheaper and quicker option.
â€œOtherwise, the official party line, as taken verbatim from Harvard’s longtime Dean of Admissions, William Fitzsimmons (class of 1963, dean since 1986) is that Harvard selects for “academic excellence, extracurricular distinction, and personal qualities.” And that sounds goodâ€”who doesn’t love excellence?â€”until you think about it.
â€œWhat Dean Fitzsimmons really means is that he isn’t going to tell you anything substantial (that’s why he’s lasted for so long in his job). So I will tell you that in this context, measuring “academic excellence” really boils down to two things: Will this applicant graduate on time and happy?
â€œPure intelligence is one part, hence the focus on scores and GPAs. Harvard is difficult, and someone who has never seen a differential equation will probably struggle in the basic required math courses; isomeone who has never read a Steinbeck novel or a Shakespeare play will probably feel excluded from general English Lit.
â€œBut so is extracurricular activity. You might be smart, but do you have the discipline to keep going for four years? How do you respond to setbacks, challenges, opposition? Do you show signs of life in the wider world? In short: are you of sound mind?
â€œThe 4.0 student who just works the ball-washing station at the country club does not necessarily demonstrate great time-management skills. On the other hand, we’ll take the person who has an A-minus GPA but spends most of her free time in a research lab breeding generations of flies for genetic tests, thank you very much. This is why admissions officers will say “well-rounded” until they’re blue in the face. There’s nothing wrong with plain old eggheadsâ€”but let’s try and get out there once in a while, too.
â€œAnd when the committee selects for the mysterious and ephemeral “personal qualities,” well, we want to know how much of a jerk the candidate is, and how well they’ll respond to a campus full of jerks.
â€œLet’s be honest: Harvard and its affiliates will inflict some kind of damage (academic, emotional, occasionally physical) on everyone who lingers there. It is a place where everyone is out to get everyone else. In a place where no one can be the best at everything, everyone takes any chance they can get to measure up to their peers. It is a mob of ruthless young overachievers with a taste for blood.
â€œAyn Rand, eat your heart out. Your Objectivist paradise is alive and well, and its name is Harvard. Here, people believe that each of them is a “heroic being,” that their individual happiness is a moral absolute, that their own reason is ironclad and incorruptible. Just look at what four years of that does to a person. Never mind the outliers like Mark Zuckerberg and Ted Kaczynski. You just need to look at the offices of Wall Street investment banks (where half of the graduating class of Harvard ends up every year). Or the op-ed pages of New York newspapers. Or the halls of Congress (one shudders at the thought). Read the rest of this entry »
I was surprised by all the inaccurate boasting about Harvard’s alleged academic & test-score superiority. I fear these young people are deluded and misinformed. I’m not up on current stats, but I know my own Yale Class beat the same entering Harvard Class’s SAT scores.
The bit at the end, mocking all the other Ivy League schools, was amusing.
Harvard Magazine is their equivalent of the Yale Alumni Magazine. All the Ivy Alumni Mags are actually currently in cahoots and they run the same Personal Ads.
Mallory Ortberg has also noticed just how incredibly pretentious these Personal Ads can be.
Every time I visit Nicoleâ€™s house I get to read the personals section of Harvard Magazine, a feature that an anonymous Washington Post commenter called â€œvulgarâ€ in 1987. It is the highlight of my year, in no small part because every single advertiser feels like it is VERY URGENT to stress exactly how rich and thin they are. …
And the further you get into the weeds of the personals, the more frenzied the synonyms get, because everyone is concerned with making ABSOLUTELY SURE that you are picking up what they are putting down, but they are also (belatedly and barely) concerned about seeming judgmental or close-minded, so they try to speak in the worldâ€™s most breakable code.
â€œTrim widow â€“ fit, energetic, health-conscious, Grace-Kelly-like, sylvan, sylphlike, Hepburnesque (Audrey), could probably fit through two fence slats, svelte, as heavy as fifteen Vogues stacked together, could be cast as a tree nymph in a play about Greek mythology, Iâ€™m hiking right now actually, could fit into Julian Casablancasâ€™ from the Strokesâ€™ jeans circa 2002 â€“ seeks Harvard grad who has been on an airplane with a staircase and was allowed to climb that staircase, never has to wear the loaner jacket they keep behind the hostess podium at Per Se, has the same last name as someone from the 1600s, wouldnâ€™t look out of place if for some reason the Reagan Administration took over tomorrow due to a rift in the space-time continuum, has had reason to correct someoneâ€™s pronunciation of the word â€œveldt,â€ has completed at least two lecture tours outside of Continental Europe, can see the ocean right now from his office, has had bottles of wine opened with a sword for him more than three times, could be cast as a background character in an Agatha Christie adaptation without needing to make significant wardrobe alterations.â€
â€œYou: Could get up to use the business-class lavatory without being questioned by a flight attendant.â€
â€œTired of being on symphony committee boardsâ€
â€œYou: have been recently aghastâ€
â€œExcellent at dressage on a regular-sized horse but could easily compete riding a much smaller animal, like a sheep, if the situation called for itâ€
â€œYou enjoy long walks from cars to helicopters, or from helicopters to shipyardsâ€
â€œThe number of pages in my last prenuptial agreement were greater than my current bodyweight in imperial poundsâ€
â€œYou: Could easily hike to the elevation above sea level, in feet, that corresponds to your checking accountâ€™s daily limit.â€
â€œMe: finds the seats in first class are too wide and have taken to traveling with a life-sized porcelain doll to fill the spaceâ€
â€œhas strong opinions about rainscaldâ€
â€œYou: are often shown advertisements for Patek Philippe watches without having to go out of your way to see themâ€
â€œdonâ€™t have gout but could probably get it in a week if you wanted toâ€
â€œYou recently executive produced a documentary about berries or manatees or watershedsâ€
â€œYour grandfather: The number of research libraries that share his last name is greater than zero.â€
â€œrecently remodeled somethingâ€
â€œI could be cast as a proficient martial artist in a Joss Whedon franchise, if I were familiar with the work of Joss Whedon, which I am notâ€
â€œYou: Have never been inside of a Tommy Bahamasâ€
Last Spring, Business Insider shared the application essay from young Brittany Stinson which got her admitted to Yale, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Cornell, and Stanford.
Prompt 1: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
Managing to break free from my motherâ€™s grasp, I charged. With arms flailing and chubby legs fluttering beneath me, I was the ferocious twoÂ year old rampaging through Costco on a Saturday morning. My motherâ€™s eyes widened in horror as I jettisoned my churro; the cinnamonÂsugar rocket gracefully sliced its way through the air while I continued my spree. I sprinted through the aisles, looking up in awe at the massive bulk products that towered over me. Overcome with wonder, I wanted to touch and taste, to stick my head into industrialÂsized freezers, to explore every crevice. I was a conquistador, but rather than searching the land for El Dorado, I scoured aisles for free samples. Before inevitably being whisked away into a shopping cart, I scaled a mountain of plush toys and surveyed the expanse that lay before me: the kingdom of Costco.
Notorious for its oversized portions and dollarÂfifty hot dog combo, Costco is the apex of consumerism. From the days spent being toted around in a shopping cart to when I was finally tall enough to reach lofty sample trays, Costco has endured a steady presence throughout my life. As a veteran Costco shopper, I navigate the aisles of foodstuffs, thrusting the majority of my weight upon a generously filled shopping cart whose enormity juxtaposes my small frame. Over time, Iâ€™ve developed a habit of observing fellow patrons tote their carts piled with frozen burritos, cheese puffs, tubs of ice cream, and weightÂloss supplements. Perusing the aisles gave me time to ponder. Who needs three pounds of sour cream? Was cultured yogurt any more wellÂmannered than its uncultured counterpart? Costco gave birth to my unfettered curiosity.
It’s easy to see why it worked. Her essay is glib, facile, flashy, and self-confident, hot stuff for a high school senior. Yes, it’s kind of weak on substance, but glib, facile, and flashy is what our elite schools are all about.
Robert Laird (a WASP Harvard guy) discusses the vexed relations between the two most influential American tribes.
I was raised to be prejudiced against the Jews. Not because they were inferior or evil or un-Christian, but because they were the only serious rivals of the real Chosen People, people of Anglo-Saxon and celtic descent. For my father it was that simple. If we were the New York Yankees, they were the Boston Red Sox, which meant that almost everything about them was wrong or at least unacceptable. Everything different was a line of demarcation. They were Democrats (many of them Communists). They were ostentatious in their wealth. They had bad taste in cars and houses and clothes. They were loud and obnoxious. They had bad manners and didn’t even know it. Everything similar was the field of competition. They were smart, they were devoted to education, they were fiercely competitive, they took care of their own, they had a way of enduring storm after storm after catastrophe and still rising almost unbelievably at the top of whatever hierarchy they were in. They were so much like us in every important way that they were completely intolerable because they sent food back in restaurants and made dirty jokes in mixed company. It was absolutely unacceptable to let them beat you in what mattered most: school. …
Always a romantic in the Sir Walter Scott mode, I thought Judaism itself was boring and creepily emasculating. Those yarmulkes and shawls. The dumb hats and curls of the orthodox. I thought Jewish accents and inflections were jarring, nasal, Hebrew a language of throat-clearing coughs that sounded gross compared to the music of English. Their synagogues looked like community centers, not holy places. Their young women wore ugly shoes and their older women wore too much makeup and nagged in public. They offended my esthetic senses, all of them. Although I did fall in love with Rebecca when I read Ivanhoe. If only I could meet one like her… which I did only much much later.
I attended a Lithuanian parochial elementary school, so I never actually had Jewish schoolmates before high school. In high school, I had a whopping two, count ’em, Jewish classmates. One of them was academically hopeless. The other was the best male student in our class, after me. He followed the stereotype accurately. He wanted to succeed. He worked furiously. And he always came in second. I did essentially no work in high school. I just pursued my own personal program of self education through extensive reading. I never did homework. I could always churn out the obligatory Latin exercises and math problems in school before the relevant classes.
Relations between Lithuanians and Jews in Shenandoah were very amicable. We bought our furniture and appliances from Jewish merchants who treated our parents like distant relatives. When my parents wanted a new range or a new sofa, they would go see Benny Schoor, who would make a big fuss over them, express enthusiasm over their selection and arrange to deliver it the next day. My parents never asked what Benny proposed to charge and they never paid in cash. A month or two after their purchase was delivered, a bill for some small sum from Benny would appear in the mail. My parents would make whatever monthly payment it was, and eventually the bills would stop coming. Everybody had perfect confidence in the honesty and reliability of everybody else.
I thought of Jewish kids, like Italians, as hopeless incompetent non-combatants, who needed to be looked after and protected by tough Lithuanians like myself from the predatory juvenile gangs of Poles, Irish, Slovaks, and Lithuanian scum who roamed our town’s streets looking for victims.
Where I grew up, pretty much everyone was some kind of Roman Catholic ethnic immigrant type with names like Kowalonek and Wodjehowski, so I got a real kick out of being at Yale and getting to meet people with English-language names, just like the people I’d read about in books.
WASPs struck me as a lot like Lithuanians who had simply been in the country longer and had more money, and who had consequently successfully cultivated better manners and tastes. Like Lithuanians, WASPs, I found, placed a high value on emotional restraint, revered tradition, cared strongly about morality and respectability, and typically possessed a love of order and a recognition of the necessity of making a practice of doing things correctly.
I think there is a general recognition, in the larger world, of a lot of similarities between the New England WASP tribe and the Jewish tribe. Both have traditionally been clannish, moralistic, hectoring and intolerant, intensely ambitious and keen on acquiring wealth and worldly success.
What seems odd to an outside spectator like myself has been the incredibly dramatic and downright astonishing retreat of the WASP from the center of the America Establishment, and his precipitous surrender of control and operation of the culture and institutions to others, most frequently to Jews. The American WASP was traditionally distinguished by his firm grip on common sense and his Yankee shrewdness and skepticism. All those admirable qualities have not been much in evidence in recent decades. Faced with the rise of a left-wing culture of accusation and complaint, the gentlemanly WASP has simply hung his head in shame over the alleged crimes of his ancestors and slunk quietly off the stage.
I think myself that the vanishing of the old-fashioned WASP from the culture and the establishment is really a pity. The old gentlemen who used to run things were more than adequately well-meaning, but they also had good sense. You couldn’t panic or stampede those people. If Eric Holder’s Justice Department had come along and demanded that Yale create a new Star Chamber system to adjudicate sexual harassment complaints or lose federal aid, old President Seymour, I suspect, would have felt bad at losing all that money, but would still have told Eric Holder that Yale would not comply. No one would ever expect the current president of Yale to resist the tide of fashion in any form.
Fred Schwarz explains why SAT compression resulted in Harvard becoming an athletic powerhouse.
Harvard has won or shared the Ivy menâ€™s basketball championship every year since 2010â€“11. And it isnâ€™t just basketball: Harvard football has won or shared five of the last eight Ivy championships, up from a modest one or two per decade over the leagueâ€™s first half-century (since 1956). In 1977, during oral argument before the Supreme Court on the momentous Bakke affirmative-action case, the distinguished lawyer Archibald Cox found time to joke about how bad Harvardâ€™s football team was. But now the Crimson dominate the league in the only two sports that most people care about. What happened? The explanation lies in … policies imposed in the 1980s and 1990s, which … give Harvard a significant advantage over the rest of the league in recruiting athletes â€” and provide a lesson in unintended consequences. …
[The key cause was] the College Boardâ€™s decision in 1995 to â€œrecenterâ€ its SAT scoring. This meant that instead of the average score for all SAT takers being somewhere around 400, the board arbitrarily set it at 500 (midway between 200 and 800). Cynics suggested that this was done for political reasons, so the discrepancy between white/Asian SAT takers and others would be less dramatic; in any case, the effect was to crunch together all the good students near the very top of the scale. For example, any SAT Verbal score of 730 or higher from before the recentering would be an 800 today. This means that double 800s are â€œnot that great a distinction any moreâ€; over a decade ago, Harvard was already getting 500 double-800 applicants a year, and rejecting half of them. Thatâ€™s part of the reason for the insane gauntlet todayâ€™s high-school students have to run, with activities, music, volunteer work, and all the rest, trying desperately to distinguish themselves from the herd. When applying to elite colleges today, itâ€™s difficult to make yourself stand out from other very smart kids with your test scores or grades, since everyone has high SATs and straight Aâ€™s. More important, though, this compression means that the AI standard that Harvard athletes have to meet is not much higher than that of the rest of the league, whereas before the recentering, there was a significant gap, which gave the less selective schools much more latitude. So: Harvard has the best reputation among American universities and the most money to give out for scholarships, and when another member of the league goes after a talented athletic prospect, regulations prohibit it from sweetening the deal by offering extra money or relaxing its admission standards. Thatâ€™s why the Crimson have been tearing up the league lately, and will probably continue as long as they want to. Letting colleges compete for students is all to the good, and thereâ€™s nothing wrong with a group of educational institutionsâ€™ agreeing to put education first. But in this case, as so often happens, when strict regulation meets vigorous competition (with a bit of statistical manipulation thrown in), the result is that the rich only get richer.
As a financial-aid kid whose life-prospects were significantly bolstered by attending an elite school, this subject is very personal for me, too. I come from a family of construction workers and laundry-owners in Brooklyn, the descendants of Italian and Chinese immigrants, respectively. My father is a laborer and my mother a human resources worker; theyâ€™ve both changed jobs across the years, owing to the recession and family circumstances. We donâ€™t occupy an enviable financial situation by any means, and Iâ€™d hate to think our unsteady progress from working- to middle-class somehow makes me, as Deresiewicz puts it, â€œan entitled little shit.â€ He may have sleepwalked into college, but it’s wrong to assume we all did
Yale’s University Commons, the freshman dining hall
William Deresiewicz criticizes American elite education from what might almost be a conservative perspective, but in the end he thinks the answer has to be a Utopia in which “you donâ€™t have to go to the Ivy League, or any private college, to get a first-rate education.” Good luck with that, Bill.
The irony is that elite students are told that they can be whatever they want, but most of them end up choosing to be one of a few very similar things. As of 2010, about a third of graduates went into financing or consulting at a number of top schools, including Harvard, Princeton, and Cornell. Whole fields have disappeared from view: the clergy, the military, electoral politics, even academia itself, for the most part, including basic science. Itâ€™s considered glamorous to drop out of a selective college if you want to become the next Mark Zuckerberg, but ludicrous to stay in to become a social worker. â€œWhat Wall Street figured out,â€ as Ezra Klein has put it, â€œis that colleges are producing a large number of very smart, completely confused graduates. Kids who have ample mental horsepower, an incredible work ethic and no idea what to do next.â€ …
Letâ€™s not kid ourselves: The college admissions game is not primarily about the lower and middle classes seeking to rise, or even about the upper-middle class attempting to maintain its position. It is about determining the exact hierarchy of status within the upper-middle class itself. In the affluent suburbs and well-heeled urban enclaves where this game is principally played, it is not about whether you go to an elite school. Itâ€™s about which one you go to. It is Penn versus Tufts, not Penn versus Penn State. It doesnâ€™t matter that a bright young person can go to Ohio State, become a doctor, settle in Dayton, and make a very good living. Such an outcome is simply too horrible to contemplate.
Deresiewicz is right and he is also wrong.
Elite culture in America always worshipped money and success. What is different today is that elite culture no longer respects its past or feels any meaningful connection to the rest of the country or the rest of society, except for recognized victims groups, patronage of which is useful for credentialing of the elite.
He’s right that race-based affirmative action is silly, and efforts at egalitarianism ought to be based on family finances and geographic representation. But, he fails to recognize that the education of national elites is not, in the end, about leveling. It is about building a leadership class, and our problem today is that American society has lost touch with its own identity and has replaced everything including conservation and transmssion of culture and paideia itself with left-wing power games based upon ressentiment.