It’s that time of year again – internship time. It is filled with hours of technical training and semi-menial labor for temporary bosses. It is (possibly) the first time one is introduced to the full-time 40 hour work week, and the 9 to 5 job. And it is also a time for a bunch of strangers to get a chance to judge you based on where you go to school.
I’m not saying that the judgment involves any censure, but people always get a specific impression of you from where you go to school. And for some reason, the impression our school has been adding to my general persona is “Ivy League.” I say Stanford, and because people consider it prestigious and align it with the Ivy League, they automatically think that Stanford is a member of the group. I have gotten this reception from students and adults this summer. I correct it only half the time – I’ve seen the interest feign in people’s eyes if I say it isn’t Ivy League without the long saga on what membership entails. I don’t know this for certain, but I think that when I denounce the claim, they think I’m referring to a different Stanford. Some people can’t seem to separate our school from its Ivy League peers. Students at our own fine institution admonish the title. Even though these schools are a country away, we still crack jokes about them at Gaieties. We still feel that being a part of the East Coast through more than a satellite station is somehow bad for our school (I don’t actually agree with that sentiment, maybe because I am from the East Coast and see more of its potential, but that’s for a different blog post). The Ivy League is foreign to our West Coast mentality and ways. Yet from the outside (and maybe even a little from the inside) I don’t think things are quite as different anymore.
To quote a great orator of our time, Eminem, I (being a representative of our school) think that “I am whatever you say I am.” For most people, who don’t really think about Ivy League sports and the schools themselves, those words just means prestigious college. Stanford has fundamental differences from the Ivy League in general but these differences exist between the eight schools that form the league. Some people apply to all those schools, in addition to the Farm, Duke and MIT, for similar reasons even if attending Columbia, in the heart of New York is very different from going to Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The league still has snobbish connotations, but like it would be unfair to apply that to Stanford, I think at this point its somewhat unfair to apply it as an umbrella term to those schools as well. I think it is time for etymologists, and lexicographers to adjust to the times. The term Ivy League means something different now. I was never a Harvard hopeful (I actually only applied to one official Ivy League school), but I’m still not insulted when people accidentally use the phrase to describe Stanford. Considering the possibility that we will be right in their midst if Stanford builds a campus in New York, it’s probably time that Stanford changed its relation to those schools. Stanford will never really be a part of the league, nor will it ever really be close (thanks to that whole country between us thing). When people say Stanford is an Ivy League school, they are wrong, but they’re coming very close to being ideologically right.