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Got your pearls? Get ready to clutch 'em.
February 24, 2012 7:17 PM   Subscribe

"I can tell you that the days of of white, wealthy, upper-class [Smith] students from prep schools in cashmere coats and pearls who marry Amherst men are over. This is unfortunate because it is this demographic that puts their name on buildings, donates great art and subsidizes scholarships." Anne Spurzem, Smith College '84, reacts to news about the increase in diversity at her alma mater during President Carol Christ's tenure while Christ prepares to step down in 2013. Unsurprisingly, Spurzem's comments have caused an uproar among students and alumnae, leading to the creation of the Pearls and Cashmere Tumblr, which celebrates the diversity feared by Spurzem. Meanwhile, President Christ has responded to Spurzem's allegations in an open letter to to the Smith community.
posted by peripathetic (146 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
If you made shit like this up, you'd be accused of being trite and hackneyed. As it is, well - someone fetch the smelling salts for poor Miss Spurzem, who seems on the verge of the vapors.

Signed,

jquinby, UGA, '93
posted by jquinby at 7:23 PM on February 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


(President) Christ, what an epic burn.
posted by nicebookrack at 7:26 PM on February 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Wow. What a born-on-third-base entitled mediocrity Ms. Spurzem is.
posted by Mister_A at 7:27 PM on February 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well, you can't say she's not living up to her name, it seems she really Spurz'em on.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:29 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


peripathetic: "President Christ"

Also, while I was worried about the direction things were taking, I didn't know the US was quite there yet.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:30 PM on February 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


Haha that rich old white lady! Look how rich and white she is! She'll never learn!
posted by norabarnacl3 at 7:32 PM on February 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


Spurzem is a pretty funny name. Are we sure she's from, you know, around here?
posted by clvrmnky at 7:32 PM on February 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well, if we don't wear pearls with our cashmere coats, whatever shall we clutch?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:34 PM on February 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


@JoakimZiegler

Sorry, thought it was obvious that I'm posting about the college president, though I don't think that's an unorthodox practice.
posted by peripathetic at 7:36 PM on February 24, 2012


Dammit, just noticed the title of the post. Me fail at classism, snark, and basic reading comprehension. No wonder I wound up at Chicago.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:36 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's pronounced like the first part of the name 'Christopher.' Also, I once saw her introduce a screening of the 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers. My geeky ass was impressed by her knowledge of horror films and tropes. She's an impressive person. I'm not surprised that she handed that poor woman her ass on a rhetorical platter.
posted by Kattullus at 7:37 PM on February 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


Also - 'poors'? Is this a Jezebel thing? It is a bad thing regardless.
posted by Mister_A at 7:37 PM on February 24, 2012


I hope I'm not the only one who read Spurzem's letter in Jessica Walters' voice.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:39 PM on February 24, 2012 [18 favorites]


Also, I don't think lesbians at Smith is like a new thing, really.
posted by Mister_A at 7:40 PM on February 24, 2012 [24 favorites]



The woman who wrote the letter is an MBA.

I will acknowledge the confirmation bias, but why does it seem that every MBA I become acquainted with is a terrible and stupid human being ?

Do they test for that ? Is it on the application ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:40 PM on February 24, 2012 [40 favorites]


"With the exception of Wellesley, it is not hard to get into the Seven Sisters any more."

It's not hard to get into Bryn Mawr?

The larger context for this is that the Seven Sisters don't play the same role that they used to play. Which is a good thing in most everyone's opinion who isn't Anne Spurzem. But I don't think that half of those schools even played that role in 1984, either. Smith did, though.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:42 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


You don't need to be white, wealthy and upper-class to put your name on a building. I've seen plenty of poor inner city kids do it with nothing more than a can of spray paint.
posted by rh at 7:42 PM on February 24, 2012 [137 favorites]


I hope I'm not the only one who read Spurzem's letter in Jessica Walters' voice

I wasn't conscious of it at the time, but yeah.
posted by LionIndex at 7:42 PM on February 24, 2012


from Christ's letter: "Admission to Smith is far more competitive now than it was in the 1980s, when the letter writer attended Smith."

That's an awesome burn right there. Stellar.
posted by koeselitz at 7:46 PM on February 24, 2012 [49 favorites]



Also - 'poors'? Is this a Jezebel thing? It is a bad thing regardless.


It is satirical.


In re the letter --- honest to god, man, is this one lady who should have should have asked herself "what sort of outcome do I think my comment should have?" before writing.

The cynical part of me does wonder whether how having an entirely merit+needs based admission policy which tends to attract the type of students who go on to lengthy careers in the "serving the greater good of society" sector does to the 'ol endowment after a couple decades...NYU used to have a whole seperate program for rich kids who couldn't quite meet its traditional acedemic standards but were willing to pay full boat...
posted by Diablevert at 7:46 PM on February 24, 2012


"I will acknowledge the confirmation bias, but why does it seem that every MBA I become acquainted with is a terrible and stupid human being?"

My aunt is an MBA. She was told at the time that she was the first deaf woman in the US to get an MBA. She's not a terrible nor a stupid person. However, she never worked in business, but rather mostly as a programmer for a national laboratory until she retired.

Lots of different kinds of people get MBAs and it's not really any smarter or nicer to generalize thusly about them than it is to do so about MFAs or JDs or whatever flavor you've stereotyped.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:46 PM on February 24, 2012 [7 favorites]



You don't need to be white, wealthy and upper-class to put your name on a building. I've seen plenty of poor inner city kids do it with nothing more than a can of spray paint.

That's actually a twofer because it usually comes with some art.
posted by codswallop at 7:49 PM on February 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


I will acknowledge the confirmation bias, but why does it seem that every MBA I become acquainted with is a terrible and stupid human being ?

Selection bias. The nice, smart ones are doing awesome things in places where you're not.
posted by GuyZero at 7:49 PM on February 24, 2012 [26 favorites]


Diablevert: I think NYU still does that. They're crafty. Also, at least ten years ago they were blowing through their endowment like drunken pirates at port (something like 80% per year.) I don't know how much they're still doing their Great Manhattan Land Grab, but gambling on endowment has been a big part of NYU's strategy for a place at the Big Kids' Table.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:49 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love the title of this post.
posted by spec80 at 7:52 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kinda funny. You know how some people are always blaming Illegals for taking their jobs? This is the same, "my current lack of status if due to jumped up social climbers who get by on affirmative action". This was a meme when I was in prep school, that affirmative action candidates were taking all the spots at Harvard. The "my family gave X" doesn't play too well when the scions of old money are barely literate dolts who are doomed to burn through the last of their family's weath. Why kowtow to old families that are desperately clinging to the last of their funds.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:53 PM on February 24, 2012


Lots of different kinds of people get MBAs and it's not really any smarter or nicer to generalize thusly about them

Dunno if they've tested it at the graduate level yet, but econ and business majors do lie more and with less guilt, according to Science! The natural inference would be they'd only get better at it with more time and dedication to the art...
posted by Diablevert at 7:54 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


She doesn't say it nicely, but she has a point. Lower class alumni are too saddled with loans and other challenges to donate big endowments to the college.
posted by ocschwar at 7:56 PM on February 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Lower class alumni are too saddled with loans and other challenges to donate big endowments to the college.

But this the same logical error Spurzem makes. One's family background and income upon entering or graduating from college is not necessarily predictive of one's lifelong earning potential.

In part due to an excellent education such as a person might get at Smith, and to powerful alumni networks and strong name recognition, graduates have the opportunity to develop much greater earning power than they might have had they gone to some other places or not gone to college at all. In other words, if you want to plump up the alumni fund, you could do worse than to have successful alumni who point directly to your school as the single most transformative opportunity of their lives.

Signed, recipient of full scholarship to small private liberal arts college
posted by Miko at 8:01 PM on February 24, 2012 [21 favorites]


The first comment on jezebel is priceless:
Dear Place I Spent My Youth,

Things are not as good as they were when I was young, because my youth was the Best Time Ever.

I would like the world to reward me for my circumstances, despite the fact that I had nothing to do with them. They are still mine and I demand validation for them. Life is a game I won it, can't you see that? Everyone loves me, or is intimidated by me, which means that everything is the way it should be.

The fact that you have shown approval to people who do not look like me, act like me, and are clearly not Life Winners like me hurts my feelings. Make them go away and restore my sense of superiority.

If you carry on including people based on their ability to thrive in an academic environment instead of their upper-class status, I will no longer be able to lord my credentials over other people. This will not stand.

Keep putting the cunt in country club,
Selfish Racist Homophobic Narcissist
posted by scalefree at 8:04 PM on February 24, 2012 [101 favorites]


There's a facebook version of the Pearls and Cashmere thing, too. And my guess is that somewhere, someone is holding a candlelight vigil. Possibly a pearls and cashmere themed love-in.

When I was working Smith reunion as a student, I found that most of the alumnae were generally awesome people that loved to talk about the various ways they used to sneak out of the dorms and were generally charmed by the way the school's population had changed since their time. But there'd always be a handful that were shocked (shocked!) about the number of lesbians on campus, and that we weren't playing fox news in the campus center, and that, just the things that might have changed in the past twenty years since they were a student. What was really fun was watching the first group of alumnae eviscerate the second.

Smith also had a ridiculously huge endowment as it is, so I don't think they have anything to worry about.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:05 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Admission to Smith is far more competitive now than it was in the 1980s, when the letter writer attended Smith.

Having just finished reading regular decision applications at my school, I can confidently say that Carol Christ is spot on. The quality of applicants to top liberal arts colleges these days is frankly astonishing. The democratization of access to higher education has meant that smart inner-city black kids, first generation latino and latina immigrants, working class whites and insanely well-rounded Chinese and Korean nationals are applying to and being accepted at elite schools in greater numbers than ever before. If you could read some of these stories, they would blow your mind. At one point, my wife literally forbade me to tell her about any more of the files I was reading this year because we would just sit up in bed crying our eyes out at the shit some of these kids have had to struggle through. Recommending them for acceptance was a privilege.

The days of mediocre prep school kids getting admission on the back of their breeding and grandparents' checkbooks are over and we're all the better for it. There are brilliant, scrappy kids out there who are working really fucking hard to get into good schools, and the schools themselves know just how lucky they are to get them. When they make their marks, they'll certainly go back to endow their own buildings and scholarship funds. The names they leave behind will stand as testimony to a society that was more just, more equitable and more rewarding of hard work than the one Anne Spurzem grew up in.
posted by R. Schlock at 8:07 PM on February 24, 2012 [120 favorites]


I worked in university development for a while, and my institution received a totally game-changing, many-million-dollar anonymous gift from an alumnus who specifically said he was grateful to the university for providing him with a full-ride scholarship that made it possible for him to attend college. A lot of our major donors had vast inherited wealth, but I wouldn't be surprised if people from modest backgrounds were more likely to end up big donors than upper-middle-class Westchester types.
posted by craichead at 8:07 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]



Lower class alumni are too saddled with loans and other challenges to donate big endowments to the college.

But this the same logical error Spurzem makes. One's family background and income upon entering or graduating from college is not necessarily predictive of one's lifelong earning potential.


It's pretty damn predictive of where a lot of the actualized earning potential will go after graduation, says this lower class alumnus.
posted by ocschwar at 8:07 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Saddles? Big endowments? Those days are over?
But I was almost ready to put out.

Smith no longer looks at SATs because if it did, it would have to report them to U.S. News & World Report
And if there's one media organization you should fear, it's those U.S. News & World Report thugs.
I remember when they did the drive by on the Annapolis Group...

Keep putting the cunt in country club,
Until reading this, in my life I had not shot Nutella from my nose out of hilarity.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:08 PM on February 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Is the bit about the "demographic that... donates" refering to the Smith students themselves or to the Amherst men they (supposedly) marry? Can she not imagine any modern Smith graduate actually earning her own money through a career?
posted by rh at 8:10 PM on February 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's pretty damn predictive of where a lot of the actualized earning potential will go after graduation, says this lower class alumnus.

What does this mean exactly? That people like that end up giving a lot of money to their families?
posted by Miko at 8:12 PM on February 24, 2012


I read that letter in Vivian Pickles voice.
posted by cazoo at 8:15 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


It is probably intended to mean that they spend it all paying back student loans.
posted by jacalata at 8:16 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, it's not like Smith didn't have financial aid students back in the day. They just used to segregate them out by house, so the pearls and cashmere contingent didn't have to deal with them (though I assume they stopped that by the 80's).
posted by dinty_moore at 8:17 PM on February 24, 2012


It is probably intended to mean that they spend it all paying back student loans.

Ah, I see that now. And yet, this is true even for students who are middle class and, in fact, affulent by family income standards. The fact that you might exit with debt doesn't mean that by the time you're ready to make a bequest, you won't have serious bucks to give.
posted by Miko at 8:18 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


NYU used to have a whole seperate program for rich kids who couldn't quite meet its traditional acedemic standards but were willing to pay full boat...

How dare you make such a suggestion! Used to? They still do! Say whatever you want about NYU, but it cannot be denied that they will always take care of their own!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:23 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


those fuckers are still manifesting destiny all over the village. we hatessss them.
posted by elizardbits at 8:24 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


My first thought upon reading about this was the old quip about Harvard legacy admissions: "There's nothing dumber than a 10th-generation General Studies major." (I lived next door to Harvard for 8 years, and I met a few examples. I also went to prep school with some of them. Going to Berklee, where the quality of the music you made was what mattered (more or less), was a huge relief after being around all that WASPy presumption.)

As for a potential decline in alumnae gifts to the endowment, I dunno, would you really want to keeping depending on what may be a shrinking pool of self-entitled fucks to keep shelling out, or would you rather work up a broader contribution campaign among a successful heterogenous pool of alums, which might take a bit longer to become as lucrative but would ultimately be more sustainable? Do you really need to have modern-day Medicis (which is probably insulting to the historical Medicis) putting their names on buildings?
posted by Philofacts at 8:24 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Her obsessive concerns about lesbians is curiously going unanswered in the heaps of criticism.
posted by Brian B. at 8:27 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also - 'poors'? Is this a Jezebel thing? It is a bad thing regardless.

You must be an old.
posted by univac at 8:27 PM on February 24, 2012 [27 favorites]


The bit about foreign students attending on financial aid.... actually most colleges recruit foreign students because they DON'T qualify for most financial aid packages. They pay full freight, and subsidize everyone else. Silly ninny.
posted by elizeh at 8:29 PM on February 24, 2012 [8 favorites]





Also - 'poors'? Is this a Jezebel thing? It is a bad thing regardless.

This is Jezebel voice; blame not the writer, but the publication.
posted by deathpanels at 8:32 PM on February 24, 2012


We prefer to be called BAMFs, broke-ass motherfuckers.
posted by Mister_A at 8:34 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Her obsessive concerns about lesbians is curiously going unanswered in the heaps of criticism.

You know, I think it might just be because that's the obvious attempt to denigrate, the one Smithies and other women's college graduates are most used to dealing with. Sad to say, it's just about the least original thing in her diatribe.

This is Jezebel voice; blame not the writer, but the publication.

The first place I heard this was Colbert, actually. And I laughed a lot.
posted by Miko at 8:35 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's a facebook version of the Pearls and Cashmere thing, too.

'Tis here.
posted by ericb at 8:36 PM on February 24, 2012


Typed a comment, deleted it, retyped it, deleted that too...

Summary: I'm going to get another beer, it's gonna be a long life.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:39 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why so much NYU hate? This barely-middle-class white woman got a full ride scholarship which paid for her Master's alongside room and board, and if it weren't for NYU she would not be applying, as an extremely competitive applicant, for PhDs in the fall. You might say getting in to NYU was a game-changer.
posted by nonmerci at 8:40 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]



Her obsessive concerns about lesbians is curiously going unanswered in the heaps of criticism.


It didn't strike me as particularly obsessive. Potentially offensive, sure. She mentions it twice, fewer times than race and class. Also, when she said it's the first thing kids from Scarsdale think of when they hear the name "Smith" I would tend to guess that's...accurate. I mean, the Simpsons was making that joke 9 years ago. It gets mentioned as a common perception in the second comment in this Ask MeFi question about women's colleges. In the "Amherst-area colleges as the Scooby Do Gang" trope I was hearing fifteen years ago, Smith was Velma.
posted by Diablevert at 8:40 PM on February 24, 2012


Also - 'poors'? Is this a Jezebel thing? It is a bad thing regardless.

I think it's a generalized Gawker Media thing, originating at Wonkette when Gawker still published them.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 8:46 PM on February 24, 2012


Yeah, I don't think it's much of a surprise to anyone that Smith college has a higher-than-average number of queer students. I just don't see how that's a bad thing. It's not like there are no straight students at Smith.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:49 PM on February 24, 2012


She mentions it twice, fewer times than race and class.

Precisely. She seems more worried about her own offspring and the chance for them to marry Amherst men, and she's spent her life dedicated to Smith for this non-educational purpose. Race-baiting probably wasn't her primary goal, it was her miscalculated camouflage.
posted by Brian B. at 8:50 PM on February 24, 2012


Why so much NYU hate? This barely-middle-class white woman got a full ride scholarship

Well that's lovely- for you. Not everyone that goes to NYU is quite so lucky (I wasn't); in fact, hardly any of them are. NYU is #1 in the country for student debt burdens after graduation. I think people would cut NYU more slack if they focused more of their riches on students scholarships and less on conquering the East Village.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:57 PM on February 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


Precisely. She seems more worried about her own offspring and the chance for them to marry Amherst men, and she's spent her life dedicated to Smith for this non-educational purpose. Race-baiting probably wasn't her primary goal, it was her miscalculated camouflage.

Nah, I think that's a misread. She's worried about the value and prestige of a Smith College degree. The "who used to marry Amherst men" thing is meant to be mock-self-deprecation, as is the reference to cashmere and pearls --- this chick graduated in 1984, not 1954. Twinsets went out in in the 70s. She spends the bulk of the letter talking about the attitudes and perceptions of contemporary students in her upper-class enclave toward Smith --- the letter is meant to be a warning shot, saying "These are the types of kids you should want, but the way things are now, they don't want you." Her argument is not "the function of Smith is to serve as a singles bar for the posh" its "Smith needs posh kids to survive and thrive and you're driving them away with your current admissions policies."
posted by Diablevert at 8:59 PM on February 24, 2012 [13 favorites]


I know "it's lovely for [me]", just pointing out that making generalizations about giant universities, public or private, is probably not the best policy. I went to a small, public state school for my Bachelor's, and I am grateful to NYU and the department I attended for offering me financial and academic opportunity I was not elsewhere. Funnily enough, I have exorbitant debt from undergrad (I was an in-state resident, too), and accrued next to none from NYU.
posted by nonmerci at 9:03 PM on February 24, 2012


Why so much NYU hate? This barely-middle-class white woman got a full ride scholarship which paid for her Master's alongside room and board, and if it weren't for NYU she would not be applying, as an extremely competitive applicant, for PhDs in the fall. You might say getting in to NYU was a game-changer.

Personally I loved NYU. I was just talking about their business model.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:12 PM on February 24, 2012


In the "Amherst-area colleges as the Scooby Do Gang" trope I was hearing fifteen years ago, Smith was Velma.

I've ALWAYS heard that as Smith=Daphne, Mt. Holyoke=Velma. And that was from Mt. Holyoke women.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:14 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I feel like public universities are really not that much better. I live in Oregon, and I've been an employee and a student in and alumna of the Oregon University System, and I am consistently disgusted with how many services are cut while tuition continues to rise. I have an astonishing amount of debt from receiving a BA from one of these universities--I think this deserves being addressed as much as the lack of aid at private universities... /ends derail, quiets down
posted by nonmerci at 9:18 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Smith's endowment is something like $1.1 billion, according to Google. I think they can afford to give out a few scholarships to minority lesbians without risking going bankrupt or having all the Amherst guys start dating each other.
posted by Forktine at 9:22 PM on February 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


nonmerci: it's cool. As I said, I love NYU, Fighting Violet 4 Life, all that, but they've been spending like crazy in order to apparently own lower Manhattan, and for me it looks almost like cartoon super-villainy sometimes.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:23 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel like public universities are really not that much better. I live in Oregon, and I've been an employee and a student in and alumna of the Oregon University System, and I am consistently disgusted with how many services are cut while tuition continues to rise. I have an astonishing amount of debt from receiving a BA from one of these universities--I think this deserves being addressed as much as the lack of aid at private universities...

Don't blame the universities, blame your state government and the voters who keep taking away education funding.
posted by Forktine at 9:23 PM on February 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


Okay, the property stuff is definitely weird/heinous. But isn't this also an issue with Columbia trying to buy all of Harlem and thereabouts?

Also, good point Forktine, but I *do* blame the administration, and the way that funds are allocated within the public university system. Why is something like development given an enormous budget? Why are the higher-up admins in development making over six figures, while full professors are barely scraping the upper five (if they're lucky enough to get tenure)? There's more to blame than state government and voters. There's a cultural problem there.
posted by nonmerci at 9:26 PM on February 24, 2012


"Don't blame the universities, blame your state government and the voters who keep taking away education funding."

That's part of it. But there's a weird and, as far as I can tell, complex thing happening in the last twenty years with all college tuition, public and private, rising much more quickly than inflation and has a lot to do with "if it's expensive, it must be worth it" and that the market has been able to bear the increase (which has a lot to do with student loans).
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:27 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


She spends the bulk of the letter talking about the attitudes and perceptions of contemporary students in her upper-class enclave toward Smith....this chick graduated in 1984, not 1954.

Exactly. Diversity is a loaded word for her.
posted by Brian B. at 9:39 PM on February 24, 2012


Development is pretty necessary - they're the ones that raise the scholarship money, after all. The knotty problem of rising costs is something you can Google up and read about - it's pretty complex and people analyze it in different ways, some saying that the problem is that colleges can't get more efficient because the structure (professors in rooms with small groups of students) stays pretty fixed and doesn't benefit from technological advances. Rising student expectations plays at least a part - I'm kind of shocked when I go to campuses today and find food courts, made-to-order meals in the cafeterias, single rooms for all students, in-room DSL, etc. Another part of it is that maybe, with the government loan system, money is a little too loose. Because colleges can fill their classes with students at a given admissions standard as long as a healthy percentage of them are drawing loans, they don't experience any direct losses, and don't have to deal with price sensitivity to the same degree as they would if everyone paid completely out of pocket. Of course, that's part of the democratization - more people can pay now, but they do it by mortgaging their future income. If you took that away, many of the colleges with amazingly diverse student bodies now would revert to the legacy-student situation of the past.

I don't know enough about the topic but it's true, college costs crazy money these days.
posted by Miko at 9:40 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Personally, I love it when folks come out with this kind of stuff. That way everyone knows where they stand, and it's easy to identify the sons a' bitches.
posted by BlueHorse at 10:31 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do international graduates donate at the same rate as U.S. citizens? Why is this not a legitimate concern?

"We now have the highest number of applicants and the lowest admit rate in our history."

This is how she quantifies the quality of the admitted students? That more students are applying and being rejected?


Er... I mean... Ha, ha, look at the funny old white lady!
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 11:28 PM on February 24, 2012


Well, there's not really a strict way to determine these things. As Ms. Spurzem is happy to explain, the SAT scores are biased towards those who have the money to game them, so yeah, using applicant numbers and exclusivity is a big factor.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:36 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


What point are you trying to make, ferdinand.bardamu? If more applicants are applying and being rejected, there is generally a higher proportion of quality applicants that are applying and as a result being accepted. This I would argue is generally the case in liberal arts colleges and universities--maybe not so much in for-profit institutions. Do you really deny this? If so--can you back this up with any kind of data (or even anecdata)? In my experience (and I do have experience working in higher education admissions), the more applicants means the more wheat to wade through.

The real problem in this case usually means you have 100+ top-rate applicants for a dozen spots, e.g., and determining which of those "looks good on paper" people to accept, versus having a dearth of qualified applicants.
posted by nonmerci at 11:40 PM on February 24, 2012


"We now have the highest number of applicants and the lowest admit rate in our history."

This is how she quantifies the quality of the admitted students? That more students are applying and being rejected?


She doesn't. Its one of the metrics (Yield, in this case) that are used to evaluate teh performance of those who are responsible for Admissions, and also by publications like US News & WR to rank schools.


Selection bias. The nice, smart ones are doing awesome things in places where you're not.

How true. I've usually found myself the only person with an MBA degree wherever I happen to be.
posted by infini at 11:50 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


"This I would argue is generally the case in liberal arts colleges and universities--maybe not so much in for-profit institutions. Do you really deny this?"

This is almost always true, but it's much less true for very unusual schools, like where I attended. Mine is generally rated somewhere in the top fifth of liberal arts colleges (though because it's so unusual, just rating it is problematic) but in terms of acceptance rate, it's never been nearly as exclusive as its peers. That's because since the program is so extremely unusual, student interest is limited and are mostly self-selecting.

Also, even with other metrics that might be useful, such as high school GPAs and standardized test scores, there also tends to be a pretty big spread relative to other schools, with a fair number of very, very high numbers, but also mediocre and even some pretty low numbers. (My high school GPA was 1.2 or something, although my standardized scores were extremely high.)

This is because for a very unusual school, a big thing is the self-selection. The school must highly rank a student's interest in being at that school, for its unusual features, because that's a pretty strong predictor of how well they'll do. Al;so, because it's so unusual, interest is limited relative to more conventional schools and therefore they simply don't have a choice about being as selective. But even with all that, I think graduates of my school are extremely competitive nationally, with very high relative GREs and perennially the highest, or sometimes second highest, rate of students who go on to earn professional or graduate degrees.

Anyway, the point is that to the degree to which a good school is like a bunch of other good schools, is the degree to which acceptance rate is a good metric for quality. It's indirect, of course, because it really just measures desirability, which could have more to do with all sorts of things that have little to do with quality. Even so, yeah, for the most part it's a pretty good metric for this purpose. But it should never, ever be the only metric for this purpose.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:55 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm still not convinced the author of this diatribe isn't the World's Greatest Troll, getting away with her disguise because she is is lady.
posted by smartyboots at 12:18 AM on February 25, 2012


Do international graduates donate at the same rate as U.S. citizens? Why is this not a legitimate concern?

It's a disgusting business philosophy and practice.

How about we start to heal people based not on whether they can pay nominal fees which are already astronomical but also on their ability to commit significant monetary returns to the medical institution in the future.

It is unethical. In the name of Hippocrates, I hope this lady's ideas die with her.
posted by polymodus at 12:38 AM on February 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


If more applicants are applying and being rejected, there is generally a higher proportion of quality applicants that are applying and as a result being accepted.

Can you verify this with data? When over fifty percent of today's current cohort of high school graduates are matriculating somewhere (a number steadily on the rise since 1984), I find the notion that the increasing exclusivity of a school like Smith necessarily equates to increasing student quality not as straightforward as you make it to be. If the percentage of high school graduates now entering post-secondary institutions is increasing, is it not likely that the greatest increase is occurring among students of marginal ability? And if it is these students who are applying to (and being rejected by) their dream schools in increasing numbers, of what objective value vis-a-vis student quality is the admittance rate?
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 12:48 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's a disgusting business philosophy and practice.

How about we start to heal people based not on whether they can pay nominal fees which are already astronomical but also on their ability to commit significant monetary returns to the medical institution in the future.

It is unethical. In the name of Hippocrates, I hope this lady's ideas die with her.


What an incredibly uninformed statement. International students are explicitly sought because they bring revenue to the schools. This is why, in addition to diversity goals, that they are such a hot commodity. The lady you are referring to is asking if such students are likely (nothing to do with ability but willingness & interest), upon graduating and moving on in life (presumably to their home countries, at least eventually), to be generous in making donations to the school so that future students may benefit from improved facilities and endowed scholarships for those in need.

As it is precisely those students requiring financial assistance who are being crowded out by the influx of international students, I must amend my previous summation of your statement to say that it is not only uninformed but laughably absurd. What is disgusting is sacrificing the long-term health and success of important institutions for the sake of short-term cashflow. The heavy courtship of international students is classic quarter-based business school thinking, though not surprising given the increasingly profit-driven objectives of most institutions. (Though, in fairness, public schools are doing so out of concerns of survival in the face of ever leaner state budget allocations.)
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 1:15 AM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


International students were only one group of people the author railed against. She also doesn't think Smith should admit lesbians or lower-class non-white people.

This also assumes that international alumni won't give back to their schools as much as people from upper-class white families. The reason the latter have their names on buildings is because they were the only ones admitted in the first place.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:41 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


From carol Christs' response:
"The strongest and most consistent correlation with SAT scores is family income."

A strange thing to highlight - it points to massive educational disadvantage in the USA.
posted by memebake at 2:12 AM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


A strange thing to highlight - it points to massive educational disadvantage in the USA.

Or perhaps [Thing That Leads to High SAT Scores] also leads to high income and is, at least to some extent, heritable.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 2:17 AM on February 25, 2012


Yes, wealth is heritable.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 3:18 AM on February 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


I will acknowledge the confirmation bias, but why does it seem that every MBA I become acquainted with is a terrible and stupid human being ?

No no. There are plenty of nice people who are MBAs. Its just that the scum of the earth justify their existence by acquiring and touting that privilege. The nice people just treat it as an education and not a license to asshole.
posted by karathrace at 3:48 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Keep putting the cunt in country club,
Until reading this, in my life I had not shot Nutella from my nose out of hilarity


That's called a Dirty Spurzem.
posted by hal9k at 4:12 AM on February 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


"If the percentage of high school graduates now entering post-secondary institutions is increasing, is it not likely that the greatest increase is occurring among students of marginal ability?"

That may be so. Now consider that supposition in light of Smith being traditionally exclusive and expensive and relatively unknown to that population of marginal ability. How does this affect your hypothesis that Smith is getting a proportionally larger pool of applicants relative to the rise in rates of college enrollment if the rise is, as you suppose, driven by an increase of matriculation by the marginal?

You're being combative and condescending in your comments and this doesn't seem warranted to me given the quality of your reasoning.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:26 AM on February 25, 2012


The reason why Wellesley is more selective is because it is smaller than Smith and in a better geographic location – Boston beats Northampton.

Yeah. Exactly. As a Wellesley alum I just have to jump on this for a second. Wellesley is routinely in the top 5 liberal colleges in the country in the US News and World Report rankings (OK, google tells me they are at the moment #6, so we'll say top 10). The rankings are clearly fairly suspect, but any school towards the top of that list is there because it is giving its students a fantastic education.

Saying that students prefer Boston to Northampton seems a bit odd, anyway. Does she realize how far outside Boston Wellesley actually is? It's not like you can stroll out the front door of your dorm and be downtown in 10 minutes.

Anyway, clearly the lady is a bit out of touch with reality. Wellesley has a crazy diverse student body and has no problem attracting alum donations.
posted by lyra4 at 4:51 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Personally, I love it when folks come out with this kind of stuff. That way everyone knows where they stand, and it's easy to identify the sons a' bitches.

Yep. You shall know them by their pearls and cashmere coats.

Diversity is a loaded word for her.

Among her kind, isn't "diversity" just a shorter way of saying, "There goes the neighborhood."?

I'll bet she thinks The Help was the best movie of the year too.
posted by fuse theorem at 4:57 AM on February 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Woe to Ms. Spurzem: the days when snagging a quality Mrs. degree was the pinnacle of a woman's aspirations are gone. Now, women are free to aspire to more: they might actually have to be competent in something other than social engineering to get there. And today's Smith student generally has what it takes to get there.

Don't worry, though, Ms. Spurzem: the primary talent of your class was and continues to be social engineering, and you folks are just doing just fine, better than ever, in fact, by your programmed standards. So what's with all the hand-wringing?
posted by Currer Belfry at 5:00 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


If more applicants are applying and being rejected, there is generally a higher proportion of quality applicants that are applying and as a result being accepted.

Can you verify this with data? When over fifty percent of today's current cohort of high school graduates are matriculating somewhere (a number steadily on the rise since 1984), I find the notion that the increasing exclusivity of a school like Smith necessarily equates to increasing student quality not as straightforward as you make it to be.


I cannot verify this with linkable data which is only available in the semester reports to teh Board of Trustees on Admissions performance however I can share the logic with you, in case it might help.

I raised the average GPA of the incoming class over a 6 semester/3 year period from 3.01 to 3.6 using exactly this approach.

If your number of applicants are fewer, it is a given that the number of top quality students will thus be lower, squeezing the pool of potential applicants from which to choose the incoming class.

However, if you are able to increase your outreach and awareness, thus increasing the number of applicants (the size of the pool of applicants from which you must choose the incoming class) your opportunities for skimming a greater percentage of high quality applicants from the top in order to meet teh number of incoming students is thus increased.

Does this help?
posted by infini at 5:03 AM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I haven't had a lot of coffee yet, but this says that donations are down across the board - for all colleges and universities - but "down" is relative, of course. Smith took in more than $43 million in 2009, putting it in 3rd place in small liberal arts colleges.
posted by rtha at 5:07 AM on February 25, 2012


I went to college down the road from Smith (and, actually, to graduate school at Smith). But a close friend of mine wrote her undergraduate thesis on women's education, and specifically on Smith's founding. It was founded quite explicitly and deliberately in Northampton so that girls could see young mothers in town leading young motherly lives, and thus be persuaded of the proper direction to follow as they completed their studies. This was in direct response to the perceived lesbianism on offer out in the woods at Mt. Holyoke (where the President of the college was rumored to be lesbian). The quotations from the founding documents would make any person of conscience blush.

Of course, by the time I went to school there, and my friend was writing her thesis, Northampton had a huge lesbian demographic, Smith was pretty liberal, and Mt. Holyoke was very (relatively) conservative.

The sweet irony of (the end of) History.
posted by OmieWise at 5:28 AM on February 25, 2012 [12 favorites]


A very close friend went to Smith. She's a top US Government litigator and probably the smartest person I know.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:32 AM on February 25, 2012


So I went to Smith, and as a result, have spent a good amount of time with a variety of Smith alumnae, and I would say 98% of the alumnae's biggest concerns about the current state of Smith revolve around the cost of attending Smith. It is expensive. Smith has a decent financial aid program (not the best but upper tiers, I believe), but the cost is still daunting to many talented young women and their families. At the last alumnae function I attended (from 1942 to 2009 graduates), that was the focus of the attention among the women - how can we help young women have the same excellent education and experiences we had? The cost is the #1 detriment to getting women to go to Smith.

I would suggest Spurzem stop viewing the world in the context of shallowly-informed teenagers from the neighborhood, personally, but it probably won't happen because it's an awfully convenient reinforcer of her own ideas.

The selectivity of women's colleges isn't a perfect measurement. The applicant base is already refined by gender, comfort with the idea of a single-sex institution, an academic ambition level, and desire to attend a liberal arts college. So you begin with a smaller pool, but a pool that is more focused on and open to attending a women's college. That self-selection at the beginning of the process will further skew the selectivity #s (and the fact that Smith has the largest student population of the women's colleges). Regardless, that number does not matter.

Outside the context of college admissions, no one has ever said to or near me.... "Smith.... that's what? #30? #18? 165?" Ever.
posted by julen at 5:33 AM on February 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


It wasn't a great movie, but there's one or two linchpin moments in Men In Black that a better writer and better director could have used to anchor a brilliant movie on. One of them was right near the beginning, when the hillbilly says to the alien antagonist, "you can have my gun when you take it from my cold dead hands."

And the alien replies, "your terms are acceptable." *crunch*.

I still use that phrase now and then; it's the first thing I think of, often, when I see something like this. "The days of of white, wealthy, upper-class [Smith] students from prep schools in cashmere coats and pearls who marry Amherst men are over", you say?

Your terms are acceptable.
posted by mhoye at 5:34 AM on February 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


I worked at Smith for a couple of years after I graduated from college (a SLAC in NH), in dining services (the economy being what it was in the Valley in the 80s, I felt lucky to get that!), and the women in the house I worked in were, to a person, awesome. We had a couple of Adas and they were just...they were tremendous. I'd been admitted to Smith but it wasn't my top choice, which also admitted me, and I have a small regret that I didn't go to Smith. I don't regret going where I did at all, but my college experience would have been so utterly different if I'd chosen Smith. Makes me wonder where that path would have taken me.
posted by rtha at 5:42 AM on February 25, 2012


The thing is that Smith was already falling into the category of "safety school" when Spurzem applied in the 80s. Its appeal in part around the 80s and 90s was that it was considered "underrated" for the quality of the education it offered, but the combination of Ivy League schools going co-Ed in the 60s and 70s along with the baby-bust around the same time dried up the applicant pool by the 80s and 90s. At this point, however, Smith and lots of other schools that weren't that hard to get into 20 years ago are MUCH harder to get into now, due to a larger applicant pool and much greater outreach to seek out qualified applicants from across the country.
posted by deanc at 5:49 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


What is disgusting is sacrificing the long-term health and success of important institutions for the sake of short-term cashflow

*If* that's what's actually happening, right? You seem to have left that part out when substituting "is" for "would be" in the above.

You did start this threadlet with a question, right? I think the framing is obnoxious, but since it's your framing, you should probably stick with it.

More importantly, I love the first comment underneath the President's open letter response:

Are we sure this isn’t the logic class stirring up hysteria like last year’s all-vegetarian meals incident?

Sometimes I really miss college days.
posted by mediareport at 6:10 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


More importantly, I love the first comment underneath the President's open letter response:

Are we sure this isn’t the logic class stirring up hysteria like last year’s all-vegetarian meals incident?

Sometimes I really miss college days.
FYI: The Great All-Vegetarian Meals Incident of 2011. Brilliant.
posted by deanc at 6:15 AM on February 25, 2012 [12 favorites]


From deanc's link:
Yesterday, just as the fracas was dying down, things appeared to get serious.

At 11 a.m., Christ showed up at Garfield and Henle’s class and announced she was firing them. The school had been planning to go vegetarian and locavore, she said - it just hadn’t been ready to announce the news - and Garfield and Henle had blown its cover. The president said she was outraged.

A few students frowned. Could this be true?

Also, Christ went on, she had discovered that Garfield and Henle owned a share of a local farm that had been signed to supply the school with rutabagas all winter and thus had a conflict of interest. She hoisted aloft a bag of huge, round rutabagas for effect.

By the time the provost walked in and interrupted her to explain that Garfield and Henle could not be fired - they have tenure - it was clear to everyone that this, too, was a hoax.

Garfield and Henle spent the rest of class writing proofs on the board. The students quietly took notes. Christ went back to her office.

There were only two problems left: how the class would top this prank next year, and what to do with the rutabagas.
President Christ sounds pretty awesome.
posted by craichead at 6:24 AM on February 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


"We now have the highest number of applicants and the lowest admit rate in our history."

This is how she quantifies the quality of the admitted students? That more students are applying and being rejected?


That is how all American universities judge the selectivity of their admissions.
posted by jb at 6:25 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait is this right? Acceptance rate is 47.7%? You gotta admit that's really high for a school who's academic rep is that strong. What was it before they grew applications so strongly?

You can't even argue its self-selecting (I.e. the applicant pool is awesome and really wants to go there) because the yields aren't any different than reputational peers.
posted by JPD at 6:26 AM on February 25, 2012


There were only two problems left: how the class would top this prank next year, and what to do with the rutabagas.

Well this certainly puts a new spin on things. Anybody have some good rutabaga recipes handy?
posted by scalefree at 6:38 AM on February 25, 2012


Also, good point Forktine, but I *do* blame the administration, and the way that funds are allocated within the public university system. Why is something like development given an enormous budget? Why are the higher-up admins in development making over six figures, while full professors are barely scraping the upper five (if they're lucky enough to get tenure)? There's more to blame than state government and voters. There's a cultural problem there.

For public universities, this misses the boat in a huge way. For example, check out this letter from the president of Washington State University:
When measured in constant dollars, the cost of educating a student is about the same now as it was two decades ago. What is different is who pays. Back in 1987, when state funding paid for 84 percent of college costs, students paid $1,732 in tuition at Washington State University. Over the ensuing years, costs have shifted from the state to students. Specifically, under the governor’s latest budget proposal, the state would pay only 35 percent of those costs, while students would pay 65 percent of costs or $10,874 in tuition. Other universities have seen similar shifts in funding sources.
OSU and other public universities in Oregon have faced similar declines:
Thirty years ago, state funds covered nearly half of our operating funds; today, that support constitutes only about 13 percent of revenues at OSU. (It's 16 percent at Portland State and 9 percent at the University of Oregon.)
The big picture is that nationally we have withdrawn huge amounts of support from our public universities, who have had to make up the shortfall in tuition increases. That's a far bigger driver of costs than how much the people in the development office earn (and if you want to see a real crisis, try firing the entire development office and see how your budget starts declining...).

But that's also a totally different world than the one inhabited by elite liberal arts colleges like Smith, which have never had massive public support. The wealthy ones (like Smith), with huge endowments, can offer extensive need-based financial aid, making their extremely high tuition costs much less of a barrier for high-performing but poor students. The less wealthy schools are in a much harder place, being highly tuition dependent.
posted by Forktine at 6:58 AM on February 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


I went to Olin College, which started in 2002 (I was in its first class) and the terms of the foundation that donated its money to become our endowment was that the college would provide an excellent engineering education at "little or no cost" to the students, and simply try to instill in us a sense of philanthropy. I therefore went to school tuition-free, though with the recession in recent years they've had to reduce that to half-tuition (all need is still met through other means).

So the school has entire classes of engineers graduating with little or no debt, often going on to high-paying jobs as engineers often do. Even though the oldest of us isn't even 30 yet, we have over 90% alumni participation in annual fundraising each year. Many of us are also doing all kinds of volunteer work on the side, some for the college, some for other organizations.

I really don't think a school's long-term survivability depends on their female alumni marrying money. And if that is a school's only plan for sustainability, then it deserves to wither and die as a relic of a bygone era with classist, racist, sexist expectations.

I was also a scholarship kid at a private all-girls middle and high school and I'm one of the only alumni from my class who donates anything. This letter is pissing me off so much...
posted by olinerd at 7:00 AM on February 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


Surely all the writer's problems about women no longer being able to marry money could be solved by admitting some rich lesbians to Smith? Or does she think that only lower class women are lesbians?
posted by lesbiassparrow at 7:12 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Surely all the writer's problems about women no longer being able to marry money could be solved by admitting some rich lesbians to Smith? Or does she think that only lower class women are lesbians?

Obviously the answer is to admit more rich lesbians to Amherst, legalize gay marriage, and subsidize cashmere and pearl purchases among the lesbians at Smith.
posted by olinerd at 7:18 AM on February 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


From the comments in the Jezebel article:

Smith Class of '84 here. Anne wasn't evil when I went to Smith with her nearly 30 years ago. She was studious, career oriented and had an acerbic sense of humor. She lived in a "lesbian house" and it didn't bother her one bit. We had fun and sat together in Macroeconomics. But she is a daughter of privilege and is probably somewhat clueless why a Category 3 shit storm of obscenities is being hurled toward her. She is probably parroting back what she has heard as a Smith Club president located in the bubble of privilege that is Southern CT. Which does not make anything she said right.

Smith is markedly more diverse now than it was when I went and that is a good thing. Back then, I was the face of diversity because my parents never graduated from high school and were factory workers. I got zoodles of financial aid. And I lived in a house with rich girls, lesbian girls, poorer girls, girls of color and the occasional European princess (QUAD FEVER). This diversity thing has been going on for generations and the folks that represent Anne's point of view will hopefully die out soon. May they go suddenly without changing their wills and leave all their cash and stock to Smith.

Things that have pissed me off enough to look up my password to this site: I'm not so happy with the Sophian for publishing this because rule one is, "Don't feed the trolls." I'm also not happy with Dr. Christ dissing my class - it was plenty competitive to get into Smith in 1980. The Class of '84 beat all records in terms of members who graduated with honors (which I did not because I spent senior year watching MTV and drinking box wine at Davis student center). Note bene: Both MTV and box wine were innovations at that time. I was cutting edge.

I love the grace with which current and recently graduated students have responded to this. That's why I continue to write checks and volunteer. Being a Smithie is a lifelong commitment you enter into at a tender age and you pay it forward to future generations.

Jesus, reunion is going to be more awkward than usual.

posted by dinty_moore at 7:36 AM on February 25, 2012 [13 favorites]


I got into Smith, but went to Kenyon. I was near the top of my class (10/550) and had great extracurriculars. Smith was not a safety school by any means, in 1998. In retrospect, I should have gone there.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:52 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I did not go to Smith, but I went to and work at a Seven Sisters school. It is disheartening to hear this kind of vitriol from someone who really could be a great force and mentor for those students-- introducing them to finance; to business; networking; all the rest. I wonder what her club does for current Smith students, exactly, or if it is a bubble far from the maddening crowd of rayon-clad lesbians, or whatever it is she's imagining goes on. Many women's colleges do suffer from endowment problems, because we have shorter histories, tend to take less-remunerative careers, whatever. But our strength often comes from the network of strong women with awesome lives who make up our alumnae bases, regardless of how many pearls they can afford to clutch. That, too me, was a more important factor in admissions than the amount of "great art" on the walls. So rock on, Smith students: your humor and grace are impressive, even if you did beat us at rugby that one time.

ps: there are a number of reasons for relatively high admissions rates, but the main factor is that half the high school population cannot go to a women's college, and many of the other members of the half do not want to. It is relatively self-selecting in part because they are frequently quirky places, and in part because many applicants will often apply to top SLAC and Ivy league schools and deal with multiple acceptances. They're a less fashionable choice than they used to be, which doesn't really speak to the quality of the education at all.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:58 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


What an incredibly uninformed statement. International students are explicitly sought because they bring revenue to the schools. This is why, in addition to diversity goals, that they are such a hot commodity. The lady you are referring to is asking if such students are likely (nothing to do with ability but willingness & interest), upon graduating and moving on in life (presumably to their home countries, at least eventually), to be generous in making donations to the school so that future students may benefit from improved facilities and endowed scholarships for those in need.

Oh yeah? You fail to read what she is saying. She wants to propagate a certain type of privileged demographic that has nothing to do with those "in need". You are the one being misinformed, not me. If she had her way she would be exactly arbitrarily discriminatory. I hate people like her, I hate their very unthinking existence.

You are just concocting a potential problem that is not in fact the logical bottleneck. Look at the actual quotas of international enrollment across American colleges; they are a minority. World-class schools take world-class people. That is a good thing in the long run.

As it is precisely those students requiring financial assistance who are being crowded out by the influx of international students, I must amend my previous summation of your statement to say that it is not only uninformed but laughably absurd. What is disgusting is sacrificing the long-term health and success of important institutions for the sake of short-term cashflow. The heavy courtship of international students is classic quarter-based business school thinking, though not surprising given the increasingly profit-driven objectives of most institutions. (Though, in fairness, public schools are doing so out of concerns of survival in the face of ever leaner state budget allocations.)

Bullshit. The statistics do not support your claims.
posted by polymodus at 8:08 AM on February 25, 2012


Bullshit. The statistics do not support your claims.

During the height of the economic crisis (2009) colleges were very blunt about admitting more students who were marginally qualified from an academic perspective but who could pay the full amount without aid. This included international students but they were not the exclusive target of this economic strategy. So many parents that year (particularly those with incomes that were right near the edge as far as needing aid) were making strategic decisions about whether or not to apply for aid. Not doing so would give their kid a better chance of getting in. This NYT article describes all of this. But it is not 2009 so I do not know if that practice continues today.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 8:29 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


What is disgusting is sacrificing the long-term health and success of important institutions for the sake of short-term cashflow.

Truthfully, the world is a big place. There are plenty of brilliant international students who are willing to pay full-fare to attend an American college.

Smith's endowment is roughly the same as Wellesley's, Amherst's and Swarthmore's. They seem to be doing find in the money-raising department.

While colleges are non-profit institutions whose purpose is to fulfill a greater good on society, at the same time, they're not exactly a charity. Colleges have not just a financial interest in admitting a small number of international students, but a reputational one-- colleges want to be seen as a place where well-connected, smart people from abroad choose to study, and those international students want to leverage the reputation of that college's reputation when they go back to their home country as well as the contacts they made in the US that come in handy down the road (eg, Benazir Bhutto's great reputation among American journalists and policymakers because so many of them overlapped with her at Harvard).

The international student dynamic in undergraduate and graduate programs is kind of weird. A college wants enough international students that it appears as a well-known "destination" for people from all over the world who want to study there, but not so many international students that it comes across as a place Americans would eschew because of a mediocre reputation and is just being used as a stepping stone to permanent residence by foreign students.
posted by deanc at 8:43 AM on February 25, 2012


FYI: The Great All-Vegetarian Meals Incident of 2011. Brilliant.

Oh god. Georgetown had a similar incident my 3L year.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:19 AM on February 25, 2012


nonmerci: Funnily enough, I have exorbitant debt from undergrad (I was an in-state resident, too), and accrued next to none from NYU.

I'm not surprised; it's usually easier to get funding for grad work. I don't think your experience translates to undergrad.

I think it's hilarious that Spurzem went to Smith at the one time in history when it was easiest to get in. Colleges like that were reeling from all the men's colleges going coed. It is really amazing and wonderful that they've been able to come back as well as they have. I'm sure a lot of people would have predicted they'd be coed or totally re-imagined or gone by now.
posted by BibiRose at 11:09 AM on February 25, 2012


I am confused -- what wealthy teenager or 20-something wears a cashmere coat these days? I don't think I have ever even seen a cashmere coat or even known that they make coats in cashmere. Even without everything else that makes the whole thing seems like trolling. Anyone who has supposedly spent all this time around rich teens would not think they have worn cashmere coats anytime in the past 2 decades at least.
posted by cairdeas at 11:39 AM on February 25, 2012


Well I found a very nice mostly cashmere (a high percentage, over 70% iirc) at Burlington Coat Factory that has stood me through Chicago's and Helsinki's winter.
posted by infini at 12:30 PM on February 25, 2012


I have a small regret that I didn't go to Smith.

Me too. It wasn't even on my list, but I ended up going to a SLAC that had gone co-ed in the late 60s. In retrospect, I really wish I had given serious consideration to going to an all-women's school. The Smithies I've met as an adult have been, to a person, inspiring.

I am confused -- what wealthy teenager or 20-something wears a cashmere coat these days? I don't think I have ever even seen a cashmere coat or even known that they make coats in cashmere.

Oh, sure you have. Cashmere is still definitely a desired material and a status marker.

Discussions about the selectivity of colleges can't just take into account the rate at which students now apply to college - they also have to reckon with variances in the population of college-age people. Age distribution doesn't remain constant decade to decade; at some times there are more students in the potential applicant pool, at other times there are fewer.
posted by Miko at 12:40 PM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I actually don't get all the hate on NYU or any other school buying property. Your option is commercial development. It's not like the East Village was an affordable, blue collar neighborhood (or was going to stay that way) in recent years. And Columbia's much derided Harlem expansion is late to the party of rising real estate values and gentrification. You haven't been able to buy a brownstone in West Harlem for less than a million in a decade, at least. Columbia displaced almost no residential property; it was garages and industrial wasteland that will now be pretty and include a lot of public space (including much better river access) and a variety of new local businesses. Driving up rents, sure, but anyone who thinks that Ludlow St. or 126th st. were going to be turned into affordable middle class neighborhoods by private enterprise is kidding themselves.
posted by spitbull at 12:43 PM on February 25, 2012


Also, these institutions provide a significant number of solid working and middle class jobs with benefits, many of them unionized. And Columbia at least has had to commit to some affordable housing as part of their expansion.

I think opposing university expansion as "gentrification" is an easy collegiate political stance. If you actually go into these neighborhoods and engage with community entities (those that aren't being displaced to be sure), the longer-term residents and property owners welcome universities as neighbors.

I'm not saying gentrification does not have costs or consequences, but I'm saying if you are going to gentrify anyway, a university or a hospital makes a better neighbor than luxury condos and fancy shops.
posted by spitbull at 12:46 PM on February 25, 2012


a university or a hospital makes a better neighbor than luxury condos and fancy shops.

But those luxury condo and fancy shop owners pay property tax. Non-profit universities do not.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 1:16 PM on February 25, 2012


Ms. Spurzem, your already-shoddy argument is undermined by the following:

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau give a more detailed look at the 61 million Americans over the age of 25 who hold a bachelor's degree or higher, and show strong gains in degree attainment among minority groups over the past decade.

From 2001 to 2011, the number of Hispanics 25 and over with a bachelor's degree or higher rose by 80 percent, the figures show. Among blacks, the increase was 47 percent, and among non-Hispanic whites, it was 24 percent.

The bureau first reported last April that Americans who hold a bachelor's degree or higher now make up 30 percent of the population, a figure that may bode well for President Obama's goal to raise the country's college-graduation rate so that it leads the world by 2020.


That demographic change is what the future of the United States is. Any fool can see that it's not just dead rich WASPs from the pearl-clutching classes whose names appear on college buildings, not just Smith's, anymore.

You can ignore demographics or acknowledge demographics. Anyone who ignores demographics is doomed to be wrong. Period.
posted by blucevalo at 1:17 PM on February 25, 2012


But those luxury condo and fancy shop owners pay property tax. Non-profit universities do not.

Actually they do pay tax on all 'earned revenue' (retail, fast food, sports facilities, etc). And then they usually make PILOT payments in lieu of tax. It's kind of a fallacy that nonprofits aren't contributing back to public budgets.
posted by Miko at 2:44 PM on February 25, 2012


Oh, and they pay payroll taxes on all those jobs, too.
posted by Miko at 2:45 PM on February 25, 2012


If you boil her letter down, what it says is this: "my kids and their friends don't want to go to Smith,." Well, what are your kids and their friends basing their judgment on? If you haven't told them why a women's college would be a great place to get an education, or if your kids don't want a great education, that's hardly on Smith's shoulders.

If you're upset that the class markers of yesteryear no longer signify what they used to, well, how do you propose Smith could roll back that clock?
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:17 PM on February 25, 2012


If you boil her letter down, what it says is this: "my kids and their friends don't want to go to Smith,.

Plus a little regret for the snows of yester year, but yeah, about right.

Acquaintance took her daughter on the college tour a few years ago. At Smith they encountered a large parade of students carrying a large paper mache vulva on the end of a pole. The girl did not apply to Smith.

Schools change as does everything in life. Among people I knew back in the day, the take on Smith was of an academically rigorous and intellectually challenging place. Now among those same people it's more the punch line of a dirty joke. A brief look at the college paper kind of reinforces that view.

One alum I met thought the curriculum had been dumbed down as well.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:50 AM on February 26, 2012


You've cherry-picked your articles there, IndigoJones. You could just as easily have linked this one or this one or this one.
One alum I met thought the curriculum had been dumbed down as well.
Well, that settles it then. I've never met an alum of any other institution who thought the curriculum had been dumbed down, so Smith must really be a terrible place!
posted by craichead at 6:27 AM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


You've cherry-picked your articles there

Not really. The first one was the lead story on the current front page of the school rag. The other was linked on the side (along with news about possibly lifting a ban on - Coca Cola?). Given the nature of the subject matter, they did rather leap out, and for better or worse, a casual observer (like me) is going to take note.

Anyway, you miss my point. I hold no brief on way or the other, I'm simply pointing out that it has a different rep than it has in years past and trying to cite some reasons why. No biggie there - Princeton used to be considered a playboy party school. Things change.

As to the alum, one of her complaints was that Smith had dropped the Art 100 requirement under pressure from students who thought it “too hard”. It was a course which she, as a science major, felt had improved her life immeasurably. Dropping the requirement she felt was cowardly and a long term disservice to the student body.

Plus, I have a hard time picturing her carrying a paper mache vulva.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:07 AM on February 26, 2012


I hold no brief on way or the other, I'm simply pointing out that it has a different rep than it has in years past and trying to cite some reasons why.
Your "reasons why" are a little silly. Smith has a different reputation than it did in the past because the world changed, its old identity no longer made any sense, and it had to adapt. The whole point of the "Seven Sisters Schools" is that they were "sisters" to Ivy League schools that barred women. When those schools started admitting women, their "sister schools" went into crisis. Why would anyone attend Amherst's sister school when they could attend Amherst? Smith seems to have weathered this crisis pretty well. Some alumnae might not like the way it weathered the crisis, but a women's college in 2012 cannot be the same thing that a women's college was in 1952.

There's a whiff of the finishing school about requiring everyone to take art history, and at any rate there's been a national trend towards getting rid of mandating specific classes and instead having distribution requirements, which mandate that students take classes in certain broad areas. If that's your acquaintance's biggest complaint, then I suspect Smith is actually doing fine.
posted by craichead at 7:24 AM on February 26, 2012


Heh. I knew the complaint was rooted in Making ART100d a semester class instead of a year-long class. I agree that that decision was wrong and a shame but I don't think one class change is enough to ID completely a trend of diminished quality. I will say that it has been years now, and I still think they should reinstate ART100d. For the record, it wasn't required for everyone, just for art majors and minors (history and studio). It was taken by a lot of students outside the art department because it was a great class.

Otherwise, I don't subscribe to the idea that academic quality at Smith has diminished. I have only seen evidence to the contrary in my personal experience.

The reputation issue is so fascinating to me because it is so frequently skewed by a person's individual interactions with the world. I have only had positive outcomes from knowledge of my Smith degree, professionally and personally, so the notion that is a negative seems so alien to me. It isn't a college for everyone, and won't appeal to everyone on every day, though.
posted by julen at 7:46 AM on February 26, 2012


it has a different rep than it has in years past

Smith is still regarded as a top liberal arts school that produces very strong graduates with a lot of leadership ability. As a hiring manager who reviews tons of applications from people with LA backgrounds, I think I can say that with assurance.

The kinds of stories you're linking can also be found in any liberal arts school's student rag. I'm on the Harvard campus every week. Sex Week is coming up at Harvard, too, and there is an unending stream of drag, burlesque, porn, and other sex-related events. -- this is the kind of thing we called an "Awareness Week" in the early 90s, and we talked about the same stuff only in a dry and pedantic manner, so I have to hand it to kids today for improving their marketing. Yale banned its Sex Week last year because student organizers were apparently taking kickbacks from the porn industry, but it's back. Is this all evidence that Yale or Harvard don't have the reputation they used to? Like Smith, they're more selective than ever.
posted by Miko at 7:48 AM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Smith doesn't have requirements outside of the major. If you want to qualify for Latin honors (summa cum laude, etc) then you must meet the distribution requirements set, I believe, by Phi Beta Kappa (?), but even these do not mandate taking any one course - they require taking courses in a range of areas.

Smith is still rigorous, can still attract the best faculty, has a gigantic endowment, has an incredibly powerful alum network which is - although not more powerful than the alum network of some big name schools - more powerful than the alum network of most small colleges, exactly because so many of the grads go into law, business, policy, and academia, all places where alum connections or recognition of the education make a difference.

A lot of small women's colleges have gone under or gone co-ed. It is a very special and interesting institution, and it takes ingenuity to keep it going.

It's frankly stupid to rely too much on the things you see in a campus tour, since it's such an arbitrary selection of what goes on at the college. Of the students she didn't see that day, how many were in the library or the engineering lab?
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:00 PM on February 26, 2012


And frankly, having a reputation as a "lesbian school" helps Smith attract top undergrads who might otherwise go to a co-ed school.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:03 PM on February 26, 2012


Interestingly, there are a lot of paper-mache vulvas online. I wonder if this trope actually came from elsewhere.

But in any case, it could have come from the campus - but I would say that if that kind of thing seems weird, a SLAC may not be for you. That kind of thing could happen on so many campuses on so many days. I can certainly recall similar stunts and demonstrations. If you're at all uncomfortable with political events, polemical display, attention to issues of gender/race/class/orientation, and a dose of OTT theatricals, then you may just not want to go to a small nonsectarian liberal arts college.
posted by Miko at 12:11 PM on February 26, 2012


Why would anyone attend Amherst's sister school when they could attend Amherst?

Sounds like you're dissing Smith, if not all-women colleges. One reason I've heard is to avoid being hit on by men more than one absolutely had to be. And since Amherst is part of the seven college thing, attending Smith gets you access to Amherst classes regardless - best of both worlds! (BTW, Amherst is not an Ivy league school.)

I knew the complaint was rooted...

That was the only one I recall, and clearly a significant issue (snide comments about "finishing schools" notwithstanding). She thought the science curriculum less stringent as well, but it's been awhile and I don't recall the particulars.

Of course the whole college experience is a perennial inter-generational complaint, the young'un's never knowing how easy they got it, not having had to walk up hill in the snow both ways like we did. Mind you, when Ms Christ claims the lowest admit rate in Smith history, but for numbers cites only a 10% admissions rate among international students on financial aid, well, she's being coy if not blowing smoke. Overall acceptance rates are closer to 50% - even if better than the 80's, still nothing to write home about, and notice that Ms Christ did not. Harvard has an acceptance rate of 6%. Though no doubt there are other factors with which one can massage those statistics if one cares to.

The kinds of stories you're linking can also be found in any liberal arts school's student rag
.

I'm truly sorry to hear that. When I went to school, they brought in visiting lecturers from Oxford and Cambridge. Now they bring in porn stars? Surely you can appreciate that not everyone is going to see this as progress.

I have only had positive outcomes from knowledge of my Smith degree....

I am pleased to hear that and wish that may remain so for you.

Interestingly, there are a lot of paper-mache vulvas online. I wonder if this trope actually came from elsewhere.

Nothing new under the sun, I guess. Well, then again.... Then too, how would papier-mache Manly Parts go down on campus these days, I wonder? Perhaps they are already part of the mix? On second thought, please don't tell me. I'd have to chase you off my lawn.
posted by IndigoJones at 12:54 PM on February 26, 2012


Sounds like you're dissing Smith, if not all-women colleges.

I think the point being made is that the Seven Sisters schools are drawing from a different pool now. The upper-middle-class/went to a northeastern private high school/min-maxer crowd is looking at the US News list of top universities and liberal arts colleges and applying to a selection of the top 10 in each category (which does include a women's college). Smith is recruiting a diverse set of bright and talented students looking for a women's college with a good reputation and liberal campus sensibility. The latter is not the same crowd that makes up the children of Spurzem's Greenwich, CT/Westchester County, NY social circle, and I think she is disappointed by that and the way things have shifted. Whether you consider one type of student to be preferable to the other is mostly a value judgment.
posted by deanc at 1:04 PM on February 26, 2012


Also, just for clarification: Most of the Seven Sisters were not founded as "sister schools" to Ivies. Only two were: Columbia/Barnard, Harvard/Radcliffe.

But Smith, Wellesley, Mount Holyoke, Bryn Mawr, Vassar were not founded in conjunction with or sponsored by or officially affiliated with the male schools they were associated with. They're not always associated with the same schools (e.g., Smith is sometimes associated with Amherst and sometimes with Yale). There's not a one-one correlation between Ivies and Seven Sisters (among other things, because there are 8 Ivies). And one Ivy, Cornell, has been co-ed from its founding.

The Seven Sisters were the social-marker equivalent of the Ivies for the northeast prep school set we're discussing, and today they are not. They still all provide first-rate educations.

The academic world is so competitive today - both in terms of more students being college-prepped within an inch of their lives, and in terms of there being an oversupply of highly-qualified faculty on the market. It's crazy to think that any of these top liberal arts colleges provide a dumbed-down education.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:19 PM on February 26, 2012


I'm truly sorry to hear that. When I went to school, they brought in visiting lecturers from Oxford and Cambridge. Now they bring in porn stars? Surely you can appreciate that not everyone is going to see this as progress.

Uphill both ways in the snow with no feet....

I imagine that Smith and other schools of its caliber still bring in visiting lectureres from Oxbridge, in addition to less scholarly visitors, just as they've always done.
posted by rtha at 1:21 PM on February 26, 2012


Sounds like you're dissing Smith, if not all-women colleges.
No, absolutely not. I think what Smith is now is much more appealing than what it used to be. Now it attracts women who want to go to a women's college, not women who are barred by their gender from going to other elite colleges. But it would be stupid to deny that everything changed when elite all-male colleges went co-ed, and that means that aging alumnae who hanker for the good old days are just going to have to cope. The pool of young women who want to attend women's colleges includes some folks who enjoy parading around with paper mache vulvas. Barring those women is not going to bring back the days when Smith and Wellesley were the only choices that the well-bred college-bound young woman had. Smith has done a wise thing, it seems to me, by broadening their applicant pool and seeking women from all over who want women's colleges, rather than attempting to be all things to all women in Westchester County.
posted by craichead at 1:26 PM on February 26, 2012


President Christ sounds pretty awesome.

I was studying at Berkeley when the legendary Chancellor Tien stepped down. At the time, Christ was vice-chancellor of the university and it was conventional wisdom that she would succeed him... except the selection committee made the onerous decision to some random guy from Texas who hated California but knew a useful job promotion when he saw it. I am so glad to hear the Christ landed on her feet as head of an institution that deserves her, because yes, she was and is awesome.
posted by psoas at 3:10 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm truly sorry to hear that. When I went to school, they brought in visiting lecturers from Oxford and Cambridge. Now they bring in porn stars? Surely you can appreciate that not everyone is going to see this as progress.

I don't know where and when you went to school (though that might be interesting to discuss), but all of these schools still bring in visiting scholars from distinguished international universities, put on ambitious stage dramas, host orchestras and chamber recitals and dance performances and jazz combos and art shows, and so on. I don't think any of that has gone away.

Yet, for at least twenty-five years and probably longer (though I can't personally speak to that), student-driven activities on college campuses have also, at the very same time, been concerned with the issues of their day and of those appropriate to the students' age and current set of historical challenges. Whether that was free love, contraception and abortion rights, the AIDS epidemic, the "sex wars," rape prevention, LGBTQ acceptance, other gender and sexuality issues - it was the business of some group in the student body. It's not a new thing and it doesn't mean there aren't other serious topics being addressed. But I can recall being involved in AIDS-related demonstrations in 1989, demanding that safer sex strategies be taught on campus and condoms be available and the like, so I can't say that discussing issues related to sex - sometimes in a provocative manner designed to spark an impassioned response like yours - is something new, or that society has undergone some huge downfall since then. I can't say that some of the activities I've read about on college campuses in the 60s and 70s were exclusively devoted to visiting scholars from Oxford with any confidence at all.

Fortunately, I managed to get a first-rate liberal arts education despite the appearance of the equivalent of a few paper-mache vulvas. There's a certain argument that all of this - all of it, the most seriously conservatively academic official university programs and the most circuslike of student-organization communications - is part of a liberal arts education and reasonable to encounter in that environment. For people planning to be leaders in an equally serious-and-academic and politicized-and-circuslike world, it makes sense to get comfortable encountering all kinds of expression, and facing and dealing with what are likely to remain serious cultural issues during their thinking lifetimes.
posted by Miko at 9:23 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't know where and when you went to school (though that might be interesting to discuss)
I'm going to assume it was before 1910, because there was a major free speech controversy at the University of Wisconsin that year which revolved around a student organization's decision to invite Emma Goldman to speak on campus. And I don't think there's any porn star today who can come close to being as scandalous as Emma Goldman was in 1910. Also, those of us who listen to NPR know that Malcolm X spoke at Brown in 1961. Universities are supposed to be about the free exchange of ideas, and there's really nothing new about college students listening to lectures by provocative thinkers who come from outside the academy.
posted by craichead at 9:59 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Fortunately, I managed to get a first-rate liberal arts education despite the appearance of the equivalent of a few paper-mache vulvas."

I think this is all sort of funny because at SJC, where there are no electives (mostly) and only one major, and many people see it as extraordinarily old-fashioned academically, where it's more like Oxford than probably Oxford is these days, the sorts of debauched activities that the students get up to, as part of hallowed and administration-approved traditions, make carrying around a papier-mâché vulva on a stick seem prudish.

On those two campuses, where alcohol is still allowed (as is the case for many other private schools), insane stuff regularly happens on a campus-wide basis. My freshman year at my first "Seducers and Corrupters" dance/party, I thought it was pretty awesome when a bunch of people drunkenly stripped all their clothes off and gyrated on the cafeteria tables. (Admittedly, it's my understanding that some powerful father who somehow heard about his daughter performing oral sex on someone during the same annual event in the late 90s actually managed to get alcohol prohibited on the SF campus for about two years, though of course that policy was rescinded.) But, you know, while I thought that was pretty cool, and other official rituals and events that were positively bacchanalian were nifty, I only once sorta attended the pièce de résistance, the annual Reality Weekend, which even I thought was too out-of-control for my tastes.

I've always sort of thought SJC was more to the extreme end of the spectrum on this within the category of SLACs (what does it say about me that I have trouble reading/using that without thinking "Stanford Linear Accelerators"), but the fact is that this is very much part of the cultures of these SLACs, and always has been. People think of large universities as party schools, and that's true insomuch as some of the most famous are where people go to drink a lot and not actually do much schoolwork. But a lot of these SLACs are places where people are both academically intense and and intensely outre in some respects. Sometimes, there's even an inverse relationship between conventional respectability and this kind of outre behavior, although in those cases it's usually kept behind certain closed doors.

Especially these days, where American higher education in general is more universal and, in particular, private schools and most especially SLACs are less about the trappings of privilege and more about certain kinds of students from all walks of life seeking a particular kind of education, these are students self-selecting for relatively unconventional social environments. For most students today, seeing a bunch of people carrying around a giant papier-mâché vulva would signal something good about the school, not bad.

And which has not a goddamn thing to do with the academic quality of the school. Even in the context of the particular sorts of ideas about education that I think IndigoJones is assuming are very important, where I think SJC exceeds by a large margin all those standards of what sorts of trappings are expected at a first-rate school (for fuck's sake—for example, when Murray Gell-Mann lectured at SJC when I was there, I sipped wine with him and other students and faculty in the Senior Common Room after the lecture and people asked him questions), the students most certainly do not always comport themselves with gravity and dignity proportionate to such a serious place (though we certainly and exceptionally do in class). Indeed, that's the whole fucking point of the bacchanalian excesses I was just alluding to. Johnnies are notoriously intellectually serious and earnest people; and we balance that out by attempting to drink and drug and fuck ourselves to death at every opportunity.

This is why, as it happens, it was very very sad that I attended SJC as a twenty-five year-old married person. But I digress.

I don't deny that it's almost certain that admissions counselors make efforts to keep prospective students and their parents away from the school around certain dates. The only really salient thing in the whole incident IndigoJones relates is that the admissions person wasn't astute enough to keep the parent and child away from parades of people carrying papier-mâché vulvas-on-a-stick. That's something a prospective best experience when he or she visits the campus on their own. Alongside a possibly prudish and overprotective parent, not so much.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:11 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anne Spurzem says she was misconstrued: "This was not meant to defame the school, the students and the school's admissions policy. It was simply to identify what I saw to be the demographic profile of the students who matriculated."

I don't think she was misconstrued. I think she said what she meant, but thought more people agreed with her.
posted by ambrosia at 11:31 AM on February 28, 2012


8 Myths About Women's Colleges -- "Are students who attend women's colleges less prepared for the real world, man-deprived, or all feminists? We debunk some common myths about women's colleges."
posted by ericb at 12:34 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


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