Columns, Opinion

WHITING: Ivy infiltration

What’s in a name? Apparently everything.

I ventured down to Brown University this past weekend to visit some friends, get my fix of the classic, quaint, red-brick-building collegiate experience and dabble a little in the surreal social scene of an Ivy League school. Harvard University parties are guest list only, so I had to travel farther.

Unsure of what to expect from Brown’s students given the school’s reputation for being a pot-smoking, hippie-laden institution more familiar with peace signs and illegal substances than with the rigorous academics usually associated with the Ivies, I was still looking forward to meeting the students who somehow got Brown’s fat envelope in the mail, thereby relegating me to Boston.

I thought I’d get some repose from the noise of Boston and that my friends and I would be spending our Friday lamenting J.D. Salinger in a library of old books. But no, Brown students’ acclaimed intellectual prowess was nonexistent for the evening, and what I got was Lady GaGa and crowded Playboy- and pirate-themed fraternity parties, not too different from any other Friday night on a college campus.

“Dude, isn’t this place awesome?” my friend asked me as we walked past girls carrying red cups and wearing bunny ears. Totally. We mostly spent the weekend conversing about my friend’s dissatisfaction with the girls in chemistry lab and how many shots were consumed the preceding night. Deep. But it’s OK ­­&-&- they already got into Brown.

Brown students may have had top grades and wicked high scores on the SATs, but you wouldn’t exactly realize that when talking to them. They enjoy dancing on Saturdays and studying late at night on Sundays before class as much as we non-Ivy-Leaguers do. It’s better than going to Harvard Square only to step onto Harvard Yard and be consumed by austere darkness and intellectuality on a Friday.

I know of some who disapprove of Brown’s open curriculum and its option of taking pass/fail classes. They tell me Brown is a fake Ivy, and that if I’m curious, I should evaluate a “real school” like Yale or Columbia University. And I have. I’ve spent weekends at Yale and very much enjoyed my time in the mahogany-walled dorm rooms complete with fireplaces. The Brown elites and I discussed newspapers while listening to Sinatra and playing Bananagrams, but we still made it to campus nightclub Toad’s by midnight.

Maybe I’m just bitter that I’m not a part of the Ivy League, but it is more like an Ivy clique in which every school is overly self-obsessed and perhaps unjustifiably so (except in the case of Harvard, acceptance to which usually requires some international recognition). These schools claim to be worldly and driven, yet many of their students come from East Coast boarding schools (see Fitzgerald, F. Scott).

It seems Ivy is nothing more than a brand name. Harvard is to college education what Chanel is to haute Parisian couture; its diploma is an academic fashion statement. But higher learning really shouldn’t be so elitist &-&- we’ve made college an exclusive sorority. The Ivies are like an expensive aged cheese or wine.

But what am I? Boxed wine? Because I was one of the 20,000 other applicants not accepted into Columbia’s class of 2013, I’m of less significance and intelligence than the few who were chosen to rush into the Ivy Conference?

I guess Ivy wouldn’t be Ivy without the all-too prevalent sentiment of pretension. So let’s give them a study break. When you’re consistently ranked number one in the country, it must get to your head a little. Maybe a little too much &-&-crimson is not a mascot. I thought Harvardites were supposed to be smart.

And if they are, they’ll learn to give us at Boston University more credit. We may lack the football scrimmages on Brown’s Main Green and the extravagant daily vernacular of the Yalies, but we shouldn’t be sold short.

But at least the people I meet at the Ivies are more considerate than students at Boston College. Shamefully, I was up on Chestnut Hill the night of the BU-BC game, and while I cheered us on from afar I got looks of scorn from some.

“BC is going to win,” said one guy. “We’re better.”

“Don’t be so sure. We won the Frozen Four last year,” I retorted.

“Well, I was talking more academics and prestige,” he answered.

OK. Nice to meet you, too. He’ll hear it correctly at the Beanpot today: BC sucks.

Anne Whiting is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences and a weekly columnist for The Daily Free Press. She can be reached at

Website | More Articles

This is an account occasionally used by the Daily Free Press editors to post archived posts from previous iterations of the site or otherwise for special circumstance publications. See authorship info on the byline at the top of the page.

Comments are closed.