I was never so lucky to have the problem that some of you admits are having.”Oh no, how will I ever choose between Harvard, Princeton, AND Stanford?” In some ways, I hate you. As a safety release valve for your newly inflated ego, most people will tell you that where you go to school doesn’t really matter, that it doesn’t say anything about you as a person. They’re wrong. The phrase “A Stanford man” or “A Yale man” may sound super old-timey but the sentiment never goes away. The school you go to does in fact reflect a portion of your character, and that’s why you need to go to Stanford.
We try not to tell you this, but Stanford’s in a little bit of turmoil right now. There are huge divides over the return of ROTC, of the change in the Standard of Proof for sexual assault cases. The almighty wrath of ResEd just shut down a frat house, and they’re looking to do the same for one of the co-ops. However, despite all the internal strife that you just walked into, everyone you meet will put on a smile and tell you enthusiastically to “Go to Stanford!” Many of them aren’t quite sure why they feel the imperative to be a cheerleader, especially considering the general shittiness of the administration around here. There is an answer though, and it lies with America’s new favorite duplicate embodiment of privilege and entitlement, the Winklevoss twins.
In The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg just wants to be popular. He’s in AEPi but that’s just not enough, because he’s not in a final club. Final clubs, eating clubs, Skull & Bones, senior societies, they go by many different names but they’re all evil. At some point in the 1800’s, some rich white male college students wanted to form societies dedicated to talking about how awesome they are, and they have come to be the American imitation of an aristocracy.
They are noxious, stinking up every possible social interaction at their respective universities. If you’re a guy, you’ll spend an inordinate amount of time pretending not to care about them while also trying to join, and if you succeed, you’ll spend an inordinate amount of time enjoying the privileges and status while at the same time complaining about how it’s unfair that you get viewed as elitist. If you’re a girl, you’ll be outraged by their sexist practices while also spending an inordinate amount of time trying to get their attention and wondering if you’re being taken advantage of or fulfilling a stereotype. It’s a snobbiness-shame feedback loop, all for a group with a name that belongs at a Renaissance fair. If you ever why incompetent rich white people get to keep running the country, it’s because of the networks these groups create, which brings us back to character.
If you go to an Ivy League school, you’re supporting a model of higher education that institutionalizes privilege and entitlement, that is determined to find who the best people are and deify them, not the best students, the best people. What’s more, these social practices bear themselves out in the academics. The Ivy League’s about learning a tradition, but Stanford’s always been about challenging the norm and coming up with new ways of thinking. John Steinbeck, bell hooks, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, they all are famous for taking down the system or creating something new.
There are no secret societies at Stanford and no final clubs. If you go to school at the Ivy League, or on the east coast, hell or even at Kal, you’ll have to learn in an environment where tradition is essential and oppressive institutions are upheld just because they’ve always been there. At Stanford, you’re free of all that. Freedom, it’s like it blows through the wind out here.