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December 10, 1978 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1978-12-10
This is a tabloid page

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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By Sue Warner

VY IS INDEED creeping up and around the
Uris Library tower. Just down the street, Sage
Chapel has become nearly encased in the leafy
vines, while across the quad, Sibley Hall faces a
similar fate. Over the years, ivy has certainly
established itself at Cornell University.
Cornell is a member of the Ivy League which
means, technically, that its athletic teams regularly
battle those of Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth,
Harvard, Princeton, Penn, Yale, and sometimes
MIT. But the Ivy League is more than squash courts
and crew tanks.
It is a status, a reputation, perhaps a mystique,
for Ivy League schools are commonly regarded as
the bastions of academic excellence and preppie
snobbishness. And although it is somewhat
meaningless to stereotype anything as diverse as a
university, the image remains, often justified and
often not.
The similarities between Cornell and this
University are striking. At noon the carillon in the
bell tower rings out over Cornell's central quad
where sidewalks diagonally converge on a central
point. Just off campus there is a bagel store, a
record shop, complete with Devo display in the front
window, and a few bars and restaurants decorated
in the 1890s motif so common in downtown Ann
Arbor. And there are posters all over campus
advertising a midnight showing of the ubiquitous
Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Cornell President Frank Rhodes left his post as
Michigan's vice-president for academic affairs in
1977 and is the fourth Cornell president to be
imported from Ann Arbor. Rhodes claims the
similarities between the two universities "far
overshadow the differences."
"There's a lot of little things," says Judy
Westerman of the differences between Michigan
and Cornell. An Ann Arbor native, Westerman spent
two years at Michigan before transferring to
Cornell last year. "There were a lot of things I
noticed at first, like hockey's real big here, but now
I realize people are pretty much the same
- Rhodes and Westerman are right. Basically,
Sue Warner is co-editor of the

students are the same; they wear down jackets,
they hope to understand calculus, and they would
like, someday, to be employed. Yet there are
differences between the universities, most of which
are matters of degree.
Although most Cornell students deny they fit the
Ivy stereotype, there is no question that the Cornell
campus, physically, fits that mold. Perched high on
the side of a mountain, Cornell is located about
three-quarters of a mile (straight up and down)
outside of tiny Ithaca, New York. The campus looks
out over the south end of Cayuga Lake, one of New
York's finger lakes, and is surrounded by rolling
hills and rural countryside.
The Ivy image is further sustained by the older,
stately brick buildings, and a few impressive
modern structures, which house lecture halls,
classrooms, and professors' offices. Inside the
buildings are shiny wooden floors and elaborate
wooden banisters which often wind up circular
staircases. Willard Straight Hall, commonly known
as "the Straight," is one of three student unions on
campus and the building seems to typify gracious
living. The upper walls of Straight lobby are
adorned with a giant mural depicting scenes from
antiquity. Beyond the lobby is a wood-panelled
ballroom where giant flags bearing the symbols of
social and academic organizations hang from the
high ceiling. The room looks as though it could be
part of a feudal castle.
And everywhere there is art. Life-size imitations
of Greek sculpture stand in the lobby of Goldwin
Smith Hall, and among the tables of the on-campus
coffee house called "The Temple of Zeus." Even the
sterile corridors of the administration building are
lined with original works of modern art. The setting
is lavish, picturesque, and just what imaginations
dream a college campus should be.

the white, middle-to-upper class norm are far less frequent than in Ann
A collection of wooden boxes in the Straight lobby quickly reveals the
hometown background of the Cornell student body. Students slip notes
offering, and asking for, rides to various parts of the country. The
Manhattan box is stuffed with slaps of paper and Westchester County,
Boston, and Connecticut also are popular enough to warrant their own
boxes. Long Island has several boxes all te itself. And near the bottom is
a slot labeled simply "the midwest."
Rhodes says the Cornell student body is more "cosmopolitan" than
Michigan's, with a "relatively smaller in-state population." But Rhodes
also says Cornell students represent a "wide range of social and
economic backgrounds." And, he is quick to point out, 77 per cent of
Cornell students receive some form of financial aid to counter balance
the whopping tuition fees-$4,800 a year for the College of Arts and
"Sure, I get a $200 Regents Scholarship," said senior Elaine Klionsky.,
"Big deal." She added that many students, like herself, receive stipends
from Cornell and other private or public sources on the basis of
academic merit, although the money doesn't make a sizeable dent in
total costs.
In fact, protesters disrupted Rhodes' inauguration ceremony,
demanding that scholarships be granted more on the basis of need than
on academic merit.
"Yeah, there's a lot of rich kids here from the city and Long Island, in

the Arts School, but we don't get too snobby because we've got the Ag
school to balance things out," says Bill Higgins, a Cornell junior.
Higgins was referring to Cornell's School of Agriculture and Life Scien-
ces, one of four state-supported units of the university. As state-run
colleges, Cornell's Agriculture, Human Ecology, Industrial and Labor
Relations, and Veterinary Schools must accept a quota of New York
State residents and tuition is lower for students in those colleges ($2,025
per year for New York residents) than for students in the privately-
endowed colleges. The state schools also have less competitive ad-
mission standards.
"I have some friends who go to other Ivy League schools and they're
a lot more preppie than Cornell," Higgins continued. "Columbia's not so
bad, but some of those people who go to Yale are ridiculous."
Most of the students at Cornell say they don't identify with other Ivy
League institutions. They are, however, quite aware of those other Ivy
schools. Since most are originally from the Northeast, many Cornell
students have visited the other universities and have high school friends
who attend other Ivy schools. The condemning generalizations come
quickly: "All the preppies go to Yale," or, "If you're not in an eating
club at Princeton, forget it."
"Cornell is often considered the bottom of the Ivy League," said Stuart
Berman, managing editor of the student paper, The Cornell Daily Sun.
"I think there is a sort of academic inferiority complex here, although
that is more on the part of the faculty than the students."
But for the most part, Cornell students are proud of their proletariat

image in comparison to upper crust schools such as
Princeton, Harvard, and Yale.
Despite their lack-of identification with the Ivy
League, Cornell students strongly identify with
Cornell University. They are constantly aware of
the fact that they are students, and not just
students, but Cornell students.
HERE IS A BIG iron gate at the south en-
trance to campus which captures the sense of
university's isolation from Ithaca and, for
that matter, the outside world. The campus sits on
its mountain, surrounded by farmland, and the
students are forced to look inside the university for
diversions. They read the Sun because there areno
nearby metropolitan dailies like The Detroit Free
Press. Any concerts, films, or theatre productions
are centered on campus since Ithaca, unlike Ann
Arbor or Detroit, has little to offer.
In addition, Cornell, like most Ivy schools, is
smaller than huge state universities such as
Michigan, Wisconsin, or Texas. There are 16,000
students at Cornell, and despite some segregation
along the lines of separate schools within the
University, it is easier for students to get to know
one another than it is on a campus of 40,000.
Because Cornell is smaller than Michigan, there
are fewer extracurricular activities. For example,
there is only one film society, compared to Michi-
gan's four. At Cornell, there is no student gover-
nment as such, although five students are elected to
the university's 70-member Board of Trustees.
At Cornell, social life centers on campus. There
are 49 fraternities and students generally admit the
Greeks dominate Cornell society. It is the frater-
nities who throw massive all-campus parties on
Saturday nights. One recent bash was jointly spon-
sored by a nation-wide rum producer and the cam-
pus fraternity coordinating council. The company
donated 40 cases of rum, and the toga-clad brothers
hosted the party which was highlighted by the ap-
pearance of a Penthouse 'pet.'
But social activity is not confined to Saturday
night. The university operates several central
cafeterias on campus where students gather for
lunch. The Ivy Room, a cafeteria in the basement of
the Straight, a microcosm of Cornell life. The Kap-
pas sit at the first table and behind them, the men of
Sigma Chi. Meanwhile, non-Kappa and non-Sigma
Chi students balance their trays of fish chowder and
barbequed beef sandwiches while standing and
glancing about the room, This searching is what
Cornell students call "face time," or simply
checking everybody out. The students are friendly
and quickly start up conversations with strangers
who may be seated next to them at the long wooden
tables. The subject is nearly always the

Academics come first at t
"I went to sleep thinking
woke up thinking Bio,"
student on the morning of a
School is almost always
week nights, Uris Librar
dergraduates exchanging
questions, and speculating
The classes are generall
Michigan and sewhat m
an emphasis on original sot
concern for interpretation.
Transfer students who ha
say they found their Cornel
ficult. But all agree that w
harder or not, Cornell stu
than students at Michigan.
"Everybody studies their
Roger Freeman, a sophomr
Michigan from Cornell this i
"I lived in a dorm my fres
people on my hall partied
"Everybody else sat in their
rather enjoy myself a little.
Freeman said he thinks t
from the 60s" in Ann Ai
"they're really into the 70s.
oriented people at Ithaca."
Among the Cornell Arts
population pre-law, pre-me
predominate, and even the i
professionally-oriented. D
"Agricultural Economic,
Cornell is competitive. It
a sterling grade point avers
out with one. Most of the
themselves to their demand
accepted school as a way i
and about five times each 3
out" by leaping off one of se
a gorge which cuts through t
"We don't really hear
suicides)," said one studen
while, the cops have the br
kind of know what happened
But a rigorous academic E
a part of the Cornell traditi
millionaire farmer who fou
1865, is himself. Cornell stu
about the history of the univ
Sun has been running a serie
the history of Cornell decade
Many of the students virt
with the Cornell tradition as
or sisters and brothers, of

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