Saturday, October 15, 2005

Bear Territory

It’s Saturday, game day at Cal. And for the schmaltzy school spirit bullshit that gets thrown around, and therefore the cynical commentary I must fling back on principle, yeah I do like Berkeley and its university.
Yeah, I can’t think of any other university I would have rather have been a student at than the University of California, Berkeley.

Inquiries into graduate programs remind me of the weight that the name Berkeley carries. I have been told “If you graduated from Berkeley you’re already a strong candidate.”

And I’m conflicted, really. On so many levels intellectual elitism makes my skin crawl, in large part because of my upbringing which tells me it’s wrong to think any one person is better than another. But at the same time, I cannot deny the slowly encroaching certainty in my mind that it is not a level playing field.

Some people are just smarter than others. I first recoil in disgust at this sentiment, but there is the dissenting voice in my mind that admitting that the feeling that some people are just better equipped to learn and integrate is not only not unreasonable but also not irreconcilable with educational equality. The essential equality required for morality to be satisfied is in the equal opportunities open for whatever person should feel inclined to take advantage of them. And there really is no accounting for idiots, so why feel bad about it?

Yes everyone should have access to as extensive an education as they feel inclined to pursue, however forgive me but it reeks of false modesty to say that all educational institutions are created equal. Sometimes it’s a question of having superior funding (fucking Stanford) but sometimes it is also or instead a superior caliber of student.

And this isn’t even about admittance standards. I say fine, good, let them in with lower SAT scores who the fuck gives a shit it’s just standardized testing. What does it say about their intellectual ability to learn and integrate? (Hint: the answer is C. jack shit) And so I understand the problems faced by the admissions office when it comes to screening prospective applicants, because really, what is a marker of that sort of intelligence when it comes to a two page essay and some transcripts? But they try, bless their hearts, and sometimes they fuck up and as someone raises their hand for the umpteenth time the entire class sighs and rolls their eyes, but there are still some damn brilliant people applying because of, if nothing else, the weight the name of the institution still carries.

But I digress terribly (tongue firmly in cheek for the most part, no hate mail please), I apologize.

But forgive me if every now and then I do in fact feel superior to some shitty little University of Buttfuck Nowhere.

To sum up: go bears.

Berkeley: I came for the world-class education but I stayed for the top-notch intellectual snobbery.

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