So I’m watching “Commander in Chief” tonight, and one of the characters excoriates the other by saying HE went to HARVARD and SHE was a “Pi Beta Phi from U.C. Santa Barbara.” She then totally slays him by saying that she actually went to Princeton and was a Phi Beta Kappa. First off, there’s nothing wrong with being a Pi Phi from anywhere, as many of my best friends wore the wine and silverblue and continue to be fabulous people.
Secondly: why all the harshing on a perfectly good state school and what’s with the obsession this country has with the Ivy League? Now, this rant is coming from a person who went to a prep school that taught us that if we didn’t get accepted to Harvard, we were going to be driving the shuttle bus from LAX to Parking Lot B. However, I never bought it. I never fell victim to the bright shiny lustre of the Ivies and I never believed it was going to cure me of either my intellectual longing or my virginity.
Worse yet, was this mid-80s invention of the “public ivies,” as if a school like Cal-Berkeley or us needed our lily gilded. The Wikipedia entry for Public Ivies mentions, among others, UVA, Michigan, Austin, William & Mary and some later additions like Indiana and UC-Boulder. Having visited and “lectured” at most of these schools, I can tell you that the education at these institutions is every bit as good as you make it as the Ivy League.
Let me just go on the record and say that UNC is a better school than Dartmouth. I’ll also say that Berkeley is a better school than Cornell. Discuss at your leisure.
I guess I’m offended at the label “public Ivy” because it speaks of an inferiority complex that I’m not willing to shoulder. I also hate terms like “Harvard of the Midwest” or “Harvard of the South” because it denies these places its true character in the reductivist rush to crown a Number One School of All Time, which, apparently, is Harvard.
I say it’s time to strike back at this way of thinking. The problem with Harvard grads, and there are many, is that they hire nobody else but each other. This has been bemoaned so often in the entertainment industry that it has become a cliché. So I’d like to propose something to you Carolina grads.
Create more of what my brother Kent calls the Light Blue Mafia; hire UNC grads first, then look around to other state schools. Special consideration should be given to UVA and the rest of the ACC (with one obvious glaring exception). Then go for the public schools of NY (SUNY) and California (UCLA, Cal). Take time out to look at people from Auburn, Tulane and Sewanee, who shouldn’t be penalized just because they’re from the red states. The rest should come from Chicago, Iowa City and Minnesota. Then let’s take over the media from the Cambridge Cabal!
Fuck being a “public Ivy.” I went to a school where my suitemate collected his tobacco spittle for two years, and I still got a script deal in Hollywood. Don’t call yourself the Harvard of the Midwest! In my book, Harvard is the Carolina of New England!