Category Archive 'Ivy League'
10 Dec 2012

Ivy League Schools Cracking Down

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Bloomberg
reports that Ivy League colleges everywhere are taking swift and vigorous action to suppress student misbehavior.

Harvard and Cornell universities have joined Yale University and Dartmouth College in cracking down on out-of-control behavior as drinking, hazing and sexual harassment endanger students and tarnish Ivy League reputations.

Harvard faculty voted last month to require registration of parties and ban drinking games, and Cornell ordered fraternities to have live-in advisers. This fall, Dartmouth began security checks at Greek houses and Princeton University banned freshmen from joining them.

The moves are the latest effort to regulate campus behavior since rules controlling students — known as in loco parentis — were abolished in the 1960s. Disobedience crested last year for Ivy League schools, which cost more than $50,000 a year to attend. A Dartmouth hazing article detailed rituals involving bodily fluids. A Cornell student died of alcohol poisoning, and Yale was hit with a discrimination complaint after fraternity members chanted “No means yes! Yes means anal!”

“Colleges have been in an arms race to prove to students that they’re cool and give more freedom than the others,” said Lisa Wade, head of the sociology department at Occidental College in Los Angeles. “Now, maybe the pendulum is starting to swing the other way.”

College students have come to equate the absence of boundaries with fun, said Wade, who studies the casual sex culture on campuses. That, combined with large amounts of alcohol easily available on campus, can skew students’ sense of what is acceptable or even normal.

There seems to be a tidal pattern about this sort of thing. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, when students were really riotous and disorderly in lifestyle and behavior, university administrators went home and hid under their beds, allowing student mobs to occupy administration buildings and even to shut down Yale a month before examinations and graduation.

Today, when students are meek and mild and cause little trouble, bold, brave deans react to every little contretemps that hits the newspapers the way the German Occupation reacted to the Warsaw Uprising.

21 May 2012

“I Went to Princeton, Bitch”

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A rap take off on “Where I Went to School” Oneupmanship.

Very funny.

Hat tip to Bird Dog.

03 Jan 2012

Not Just Harvard

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Brown’s well-known gate

We’ve recently learned that it isn’t only Harvard which has acquired a NSFW site where students (and/or alumni) post naked pictures.

Unlike Harvard’s gay-interest-only site, the Brown site is coed and publishes student-written porn.

There wasn’t any Internet back during the consulate of Plancus, but I expect we also had an adequate quantity of horny exhibitionists willing to post personal pictures on these kinds of sites back then, too.

02 Oct 2011

Smell Like a Preppy!

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Dressing like a Preppy has been a successful marketing approach in men’s clothing for several decades, but offering to allow you to smell like a Preppy? (Those of us who once frequented locker rooms in the Yale gymnasium are shaking our heads at this one.)

Perhaps, this company has finally figured out how to compound the ultimate scent effective in the seduction of the opposite sex: the pure, distilled essential aroma of old money.

Hat tip to Tim of Angle.

Ivy Style

19 Sep 2011

Ivy League Meritocracy and Niceness

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There has been a fair amount of comment in certain alumni circles about the latest Ivy League kerfuffle: Harvard University’s effort, at the beginning of this year’s Fall Term, to “encourage” freshmen to sign a kindness pledge.

Harvard’s new initiative provoked some serious criticism noting that students were likely to feel pressured to sign (as a copy of the pledge with each student’s name and a space for a signature was placed hanging in each entryway), but Harvard then apologized and retreated (being so nice, after all).

Not surprisingly, the incident produced a good deal of coverage, and some mockery.

Ross Douthat
(who attended the little school in Cambridge) responded to Virginia Postrel’s reaction in Bloomberg by explaining that there is a bit more to elite Ivy League nicey-goodiness than may be recognized by outsiders not fully acquainted with the culture and patterns of expression of this particular tribe.

[There is an] element of ruthlessness that runs through the culture of elite colleges, and… the prevailing spirit of deference and niceness is a defense mechanism and a facade — a kind of ritualized politesse, like the elaborate bowing and flowery compliments of a 17th century European court, that conceals the vaulting ambitions and furious rivalries that actually predominate on campus. (The essential ruthlessness of the meritocracy was one of the themes of my own subsequent attempt to distill the culture of elite education.) Which is why I appreciated how Postrel’s column finishes up.

    Harvard is the strongest brand in American higher education, and its identity is clear. As its students recognize, Harvard represents success. But, it seems, Harvard feels guilty about that identity and wishes it could instead (or also) represent “compassion.” These two qualities have a lot in common. They both depend on other people, either to validate success or serve as objects of compassion. And neither is intellectual.

Rochefoucauld observed that hypocrisy was the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

I suppose it would be fair to say that constant poses of kindness and compassion are the tribute, these days, that the excessively ambitious and success-obsessed pay to failure.

“My board scores and grades were infinitely better than yours. I’m going to Harvard and on to a prominent bank or law firm and seven figures annually. But I will support plenty of welfare entitlement programs for you losers down in the bad neighborhood.”

Hat tip to Frank A. Dobbs.

15 Nov 2010

“My Hatred for Harvard Outweighs My Apathy For Football.”

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I had a few drinks last night, so I don’t actually remember how it was that I stumbled upon this amusing 2005 article in the New Journal by Adriane Quinlan providing a tour d’horizon of the best t shirt slogan expressions of the traditional Yale-Harvard football rivalry.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s pledges sell shirts “to raise money for their pledge project—usually an improvement to the infrastructure of the house. “For example,” said Fraternity president Billy Deitch, “rebuilding the basement bar.” Two years ago the frat put out one of the most successful shirts in recent memory, the front of which argued, “You’d have to be crazy to go to Harvard…” and the back of which provided evidence: a picture of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Harvard Class of 1962. A later shirt was more minimal in design, “VE-RI-DUM,” which Branford Senior Jonathan Breit claimed as his favorite game shirt: “Everything is perfect: the number of syllables, the latin-esque ending of ‘dum,’ the fact that ‘dumb’ is misspelled. It just works.”

26 Oct 2010

“Not An Elite At All”

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Glenn Reynolds observes that the pseudo-intellectual community of fashion is not really worthy of being described as an elite.

Forget cultural insularity or smugness. The main problem with the “new elite” is that they’re not an elite at all. That is, they aren’t particularly smart, or competent. They are credentialed, but those credentials aren’t so much markers for smartness or competence, or even basic education, as they are admission tickets to the Gentry Class, based on good standardized test scores. That’s fine — ETS was berry, berry good to me — but it doesn’t have much to do with ability to succeed, or lead, in the real world. Worse yet, it seems to have fostered a sense of entitlement.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

Very long-time reader and first time emailer. Just my two cents on the elitists.

    I am an elite anti-elitist Tea Partier and I made my first protest signs way back in March 2009. I’m a Yale [BA, Philosophy], Columbia [MA, International Affairs] former Wall Street trader and risk manager who is just about done getting another masters [in Library and Information Science] during a two-year “John Galt” sabbatical from work. I’ve met many, many Tea Partiers at this point and they are not anti-elitist in a general, superficial sense. Indeed, they most often admire those who have succeeded by dint of a good education or hard work or taking advantage of a bit of good luck. The subset of elitists that we are fed up with are the ones in the government, the media, and academia who think (erroneously) that they know better what we should be doing with our time every day and have the right to pick our pockets to fund it. Not only are we tired of being condescended to (and take my word for it, I could wipe the floor with most of them intellectually) but they’re obviously screwing everything up. So, to borrow Lee Harris’ word from his new book, we’re the “ornery” bastards who, from time to time, rise up to put the elite (and effete) corps of impudent snobs back in their place.

Places like Yale and Columbia (both of which I attended myself) are actually full of people with less than all that exciting SAT scores, who were really simply adequately professional performers of routine academic tasks. The lumpen Ivy League graduate tends to be sufficiently skilled in the rapid assimilation of cultural trivia and the manipulation of symbols and ideas to earn a comfortable place in the establishment community. But people of this sort are typically not genuinely intellectual, not well educated, and utterly and completely incapable of independent critical thought.

Members in good standing of the liberal community of fashion obtain all their ideas and opinions off the rack from the establishment media. They care deeply about politics because a strong commitment to fashionably leftwing politics is just like the right address, clothing, personal accessories, and automobile, a key class identifier.

Bad, stupid, and unfashionable people vote Republican, own guns, and remain committed to old-fashioned forms of conventional religion, just as Barack Obama observed aloud during the 2008 campaign. There is obviously something fundamentally defective about them. People who are chic, intelligent, and sophisticated, or at least who think they are, vote faithfully for liberal democrats and subscribe to a body of opinion simultaneously embracing Pacifism, Puritanism much modified by Epicureanism, and secularist Socialism.

The conservative critique of liberal political theory, liberal foreign policy, liberal economics, and liberal notions of environmental catastrophism is actually infinitely more substantive and serious, but conservatives are always being dismissed as stupid for failing to recognize that the smart people are the ones clever enough to identify the correct opinions and alert enough to the advantages of being aligned with the establishment.

Hat tip to Bird Dog.

24 Jul 2009

Racial Indignation… or Ivy League Indignation?

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Phantom Negro in Salon sprinkles an otherwise very intelligent piece with conventional complaints about the sufferings of Ivy-League-educated African Americans dealing with racism “on a daily basis” (poor souls!), but apart from the we-have-to-keep-our-grievances-alive! bows in the direction of political correctness, I think he nails Gates dead center and from a privileged and shared perspective.

As a black Ivy Leaguer, something funny happens as you become ensconced in ivy. You’re smart enough to understand that race and racism are a reality you deal with on a daily basis, but you also know that your university ID sets you apart. Does this mean you are kept from hurtful incidents? No, but it is to say that much of the outrage felt at a racial slight is replaced by outrage at a class slight. Sure, we get pissed, knowing we’re getting hassled because we’re black, but the real indignation comes from being hassled as members of an elite group. How dare you hassle me? I go to school here. I go to work here. …

Which brings me to Skip Gates. He isn’t outraged because he feels he was the victim of racial profiling by the police (that dubious honor goes to his foolish neighbor) [in fact, the woman who called the police is not a neighbor, but works nearby]. He’s outraged because he was the victim of class profiling. He didn’t resent being identified as black; he resented being identified as that kind of black, the kind of black that can be hassled and pushed around by simpleton cops. How dare you hassle me? I’m Skip Gates: Harvard professor!

Skip has fallen victim to the Ivy League Effect. Check out his articles — you can definitely go to the Root — the Web site he is editor in chief of — if you want to see a repository for the whole masturbatory display. He all but says, “Do I look like that type of (black) person? I was wearing a blazer and a polo shirt!” Gates is Ivy League pissed with a dash of black anger. Not the other way around. …

Skip Gates thought that he’d worked hard enough, achieved enough, become Harvard enough that this sort of treatment did not apply to him. And now, rather than channel that outrage in a way that is subtle but effective, he’s very publicly suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, having “joined the ranks of the million incarcerated black men in America.” That’s laughable. He does not see those million men as kin and he doesn’t, by and large, give a damn about those guys. He’s merely annoyed that such an irritation as police misconduct found its way into his home. If he read about this story happening to a plumber in Roxbury, he’d shake his head in disappointment and then go on with his life.

So before we heed the call of racism, let’s be mindful of the tower from which that call came. This has something to do with race. But it has a lot more to do with messing with Skip Gates.

29 Nov 2008

Obama’s Valedictocracy

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Joseph Epstein has taught for too many years to believe that conspicuous success in today’s elite universities is commonly a testament to good character. Au contraire, Epstein argues: “Some of the worst people in the United States have gone to the Harvard or Yale Law Schools.”

Last week the excellent David Brooks, in one of his columns in the New York Times, exulted over the high quality of people President-elect Barack Obama was enlisting in his new cabinet and onto his staff. The chief evidence for these people being so impressive, it turns out, is they all went to what the world–“that ignorant ninny,” as Henry James called it–thinks superior schools. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, the London School of Economics; like dead flies on flypaper, the names of the schools Obama’s new appointees attended dotted Brooks’s column.

Here is the column’s first paragraph:

    Jan. 20, 2009, will be a historic day. Barack Obama (Columbia, Harvard Law) will take the oath of office as his wife, Michelle (Princeton, Harvard Law), looks on proudly. Nearby, his foreign policy advisers will stand beaming, including perhaps Hillary Clinton (Wellesley, Yale Law), Jim Steinberg (Harvard, Yale Law) and Susan Rice (Stanford, Oxford D. Phil.).

This administration will be, as Brooks writes, “a valedictocracy.” The assumption here is that having all these good students–many of them possibly “toll-frees,” as high-school students who get 800s on their SATs used to be known in admissions offices–running the country is obviously a pretty good thing. Brooks’s one jokey line in the column has it that “if a foreign enemy attacks the United States during the Harvard-Yale game any time over the next four years, we’re screwed.” Since my appreciation of David Brooks is considerable, and since I agree with him on so many things, why don’t I agree with him here?

The reason is that, after teaching at a university for 30 years, I have come to distrust the type I think of as “the good student.” …

Read the whole thing.

24 Jun 2008

Ivy League Education=”Really Excellent Sheep”

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William Deresiewicz, like some other people around here, spent time at Yale, and has some apt criticism of both the objectives and results of American elite education.

Even though he’s a liberal and a romantic who seems to think we need to be producing poets and revolutionaries, he is not wrong in noting that independent thought is not exactly what our most prestigious educational institutions are aiming at.

As one student responds to Deresiewicz in class: “So are you saying that we’re all just, like, really excellent sheep?”

No, he’s calling you “tools,” actually.

Being an intellectual begins with thinking your way outside of your assumptions and the system that enforces them. But students who get into elite schools are precisely the ones who have best learned to work within the system, so it’s almost impossible for them to see outside it, to see that it’s even there. Long before they got to college, they turned themselves into world-class hoop-jumpers and teacher-pleasers, getting A’s in every class no matter how boring they found the teacher or how pointless the subject, racking up eight or 10 extracurricular activities no matter what else they wanted to do with their time. …

The world that produced John Kerry and George Bush is indeed giving us our next generation of leaders. The kid who’s loading up on AP courses junior year or editing three campus publications while double-majoring, the kid whom everyone wants at their college or law school but no one wants in their classroom, the kid who doesn’t have a minute to breathe, let alone think, will soon be running a corporation or an institution or a government. She will have many achievements but little experience, great success but no vision. The disadvantage of an elite education is that it’s given us the elite we have, and the elite we’re going to have.

Hat tip to Tim of Angle.

12 May 2008

Poison Ivy

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Yale’s Harkness Tower

Bert Prelutsky, at PJM, has a few choice remarks on presidential politics and the Ivies.

Ivy certainly looks nice, but you wouldn’t want to stroll through it. Here in Southern California, it’s common knowledge that most of our rodents hang out in the stuff. If bubonic plague ever breaks out in L.A., the source will be found lurking in the shrubbery.

What has me dwelling on ivy is my recent realization that much of what I don’t like about American politics — namely, American politicians — can be traced back to Ivy League schools. It can’t just be a coincidence that four or five universities keep spitting out presidential candidates and their spouses with the sort of regularity that Notre Dame used to turn out All American football players.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Bird Dog.

10 Apr 2008

What Is the Next Important Mission for Yale?

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Why, of course! It’s creating Gender-Neutral Student Housing.

Yale Daily News:

An “ad-hoc committee” of administrators is investigating the possibility of gender-neutral housing on campus, Dean of Administrative Affairs John Meeske said this week.

The committee, which was convened late last semester around the same time the Yale College Council formed a gender-neutral housing committee of its own, will spend the 2008-’09 academic year drafting a recommendation about the housing option, committee chair Meeske said. …

Meeske said the administration began exploring the issue after attending Ivy League housing conferences over the past two years and discovering that gender-neutral housing was “an ‘in’ thing at other schools.” Still, given the distinctiveness of Yale’s residential college system, all decisions will be made with Yale specifically in mind, he said. …

LGBT Co-op student coordinator Benjamin Gonzalez ’09 said Yale’s current housing policy ignores the needs of transgender students. Gonzalez said he knows of no openly transgender students currently at Yale, which he said is the result of the University’s policies — policies that do not promote a comfortable environment for such individuals.

“Yale,” Gonzalez said, “is failing in its basic mission not to discriminate on gender identity and expression.” …

Some form of gender-neutral housing is available at more than 30 colleges and universities nationwide, according to the nonprofit Gender Public Advocacy Coalition, including the majority of the eight Ivy League universities as well as nearby schools like Wesleyan University and the University of Connecticut.

When ten Congregationalist clergymen gathered at Samuel Russell’s parsonage in Branford in 1701 and contributed 40 precious folios for “the founding of a Collegiate School,” the poor misguided fools thought they were founding a school to train ministers of the gospel.

Of course, now we know that the real mission of their undertaking was avoiding discrimination on gender identity and expression and providing a comfortable environment for the transgendered.

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