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February 20, 1987 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-02-20
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N OCT. 29, 1986, A COLUMN by Mark
Borowsky entitled "Mets win; 'U' must
live with the fans" appeared in the Daily.
"The Mets fans have made life
intolerable for anyone whose origins are
west of Hackensack," Borowsky wrote.
"Mets fans are no more secure about themselves than
anyone else in the world. They just happen to use their teams
to hide such insecurity, laying it out on the rest of us."
The Daily received dozens of letters about the column,
some supportive, most not. But not everyone upset by the
piece felt compelled to write. Some gave Borowsky personal
telephone calls.
"People are calling up and telling me, 'Fuck off and go to
hell,' and slamming the phone, or saying I'd better watch
myself on campus," said Borowsky, reading off a long list of
phone messages.
"We were having a big party (at my house) and I came
home at one in the morning," he continued. "Somebody went
into a bathroom and ripped the fixtures off the sink, ripped
off some soap dishes, totally trashed the toilet, pulled off the
commode, seat, and cover and wrote 'Mets' in toothpaste on
the wall."
The responses to the article and a subsequent Borowsky
piece entitled "New York fans... you make me ill," published
Jan. 28, 1987, after the New York Giants' Super Bowl win,
were vivid reminders of a region-based tension between many
University students.
More than one-third of Michigan's student body comes
from outside the state, the highest such percentage in the Big
Ten. (Only about 8 percent of Ohio State University's
student body is out-of-state; at Illinois, it's just 3 percent.)
Of the University's out-of-state students, more than one-
third are from the East Coast, mostly Massachusetts, New
Jersey, and New York. And their numbers are increasing:
1,889 New Yorkers were enrolled in the University last fall,
208 more than the year previous.
Many out-of-state students come from wealthy families.
They almost have to be - their tuition is quadruple what
Michiganders are charged.
Associate director of admissions Bob Swain admits
Michigan is a pricey college, "but it's still a better deal than
most of the private schools for the out-of-state student."
Swain worries that the University is "dangerously close"
to the point where tuition costs for the out-of-state students
will become prohibitively high. It's already difficult, he says,

to attract top students "who just need a lot of financial
assistance." According to University housing office figures,
the estimated average income of all Michigan students'
family income is in excess of $40,000.
"The result is that you get the kinds of students who can
afford to come on their own," Swain said. "And these kinds
of students tend to come predominantly from the wealthier
communities. It's not unique to New York, but you will find
that also the affluent communities tend to attract professional
families who are more generous in supporting their
educational programs."
thehMidwes^tand aeJfr4awy
Inom dsaisto ugh no,2t universaenontees
erfi plfro -2
r et t 'felnsta erfante reg
moffist a
ast Coasters arse a little
defensi subecase they rein
the Midwest and are far away
from their environment.'
Income disparities, although not universal, nonetheless
contribute to students' eeigs that peers from another region
are different. Other factors range from traits as innocuous as
speaking accents to issues as serious as religion and bigotry.
Students have developed very clear images and stereotypes
of their classmates from other regions, none more so than the
region around New York City.
According to James Brunberg, an LSA sophomore from
Pittsburgh, many see the typical New Yorker as "well-
dressed, civilized, affluent, (wearing) a lot of make-up, very
loud and ambitious, and aggressive."
Because they're often seen as rich, "loud," and



rather than a product of Wall Street or 52nd Street, or being
near the Statue of Liberty."
"I expect that it gets mixed in with the Midwestern
attitudes towards Jewish people, because most of the New
Yorkers here - or certainly a large number - are Jewish,
and they have very different cultures. I think that all that gets
mixed in," Westen said.
Indeed, some say that misanthropy toward New Yorkers is
often anti-Semitism in disguise. Many of the stereotypes
associated with New Yorkers are also associated with Jews,
and it is a demographic fact that a large number of Jews are
* n
- - , an o b r
O4 ut* - IV

By Seth Flicker

"aggressive," many people believe that New Yorkers exhibit
a sort of obnoxious snobbery, a feeling of superiority over
their counterparts to the west.
"They act a little bit different here. They're a little
defensive because they're in the Midwest and are far away
from their environment," said Brunberg.
Insecurity, says assistant professor of psychology Drew
Westen, shapes the behaviors and attitudes of many students
from distant states.
"In situations of uncertainty and anxiety like moving to a
college far away, it makes you even more interested in
finding something that reminds you of home," explained
Westen, also a researchfellow of psychiatry at the Medical
School. "When you're moving away from home for the first
time, our identity is really in flux, and one of the things that
is comforting is to have it confirmed by being in a group of
people with similar identities."
Friends to the group, a snobbish clique to outsiders.
Westen has three theories to explain what some see as the
Easterners' superiority kick.Y
"The first one is that they could be right. It could be that
New York is the center of the universe and not only were
Galileo and Copernicus wrong, but everybody was wrong
until 20th century New Yorkers discovered that actually New
York is the center of the world. That one simply says that
our ideas are partly shaped by reality.
"A second hypothesis is that New Yorkers have a deep-
seated sense of inferiority that comes from as little children
interacting with people who are behaving aggressively
towards them in impersonal ways," he said. "The result is
that they feel inferior and have to defensively transform it to

a sense of superiority which they bring with them when they
"A third is that people who are most ardently pro-New
York are actually people from-New Jersey and, objectively,
there is little in New Jersey that allows a sense of superiority
and that the New Jersians actually have an equally deep-seated
sense of 'Big Apple envy.' "
Back here among the Great Lakes, natives respond to the
behaviors of some of their East Coast counterparts with
everything from playful mockery to jealousy and disdain.
"It's very similar to reactions to 'modernization' that you
see in the Third World," Westen said. "This is sort of the
clash of the culture that has sprung from many years in the
city versus the culture thatsprung from the rural areas.
"The Midwest has traditionally been a rural culture. It's
not the culture of narcissism - it's much more family-,
oriented. It's solidarity based on likeness of people as
opposed to a solidarity based on every individual pursuing his
own self-interest."
Like it or not, Westen says, the whole nation is evolving
into a society of pushy social-climbers where New Yorkers
won't deserve the image any more than anyone else.
"New York really symbolizes to the rest of the country
that impersonal, glittery, wealthy, individualistic, aggressive
sort of type that everyone sees us as heading toward - it's
something that people see as 'those nasty New Yorkers'
rather than something that is happening everywhere," Westen
"It seems to be a product of technological development

Lee Schwartz, an L
remembers seeing signs u
Island." "Especially in /
basically from New Yorl
else... All you heard was,
Oh, you live in Alice Lloy(
Some say that those wh<
and their attitudes should
first. "If you think (they)
people who don't like then
too," said Mark Gale, an L
Borowksy, who is Jew,
were aimed at New York
Yorkers. "I think people
themselves to the city bec
York is one of the greatest
of get this vicarious ego tri
"Ever since I was a fre
the Midwest sucks in rE
Yorkers," said Borowsky,
'Why the hell did they
school?' I think is the gene
The rivalry between Ea
but it isn't clear whether
detrimental to the campus
tension keeps things inter(
into the idea that diversity
Gale says he tries to 1
sometimes he doesn't seen
them; I like to know them,
don't know if they're resi
seems like there's some f
reason, that they don't real
much. Not all of them, but
put in the situation of th(
each other. So I feel uncoi
can't I get to know you?"'
Goldsmith says the dif
Midwesterners aren't over
"Living in a big city, I mi
York, walking out of your
to do. But to other people,
Ann Arbor. It just depends
"We're different," she
understand people who are
"You have to feelsorry

Michiganders respond to their
Eastern counterparts with
everything from playful mock -
ery tojealousy and disdain.
concentrated in and around New York City.
Many people tie together the two images - one of Jews,
one of New York. "It's bad: rich, snobby, loud, JAPpy; it's a
very anti-semitic view," said LSA senior Gail Goldsmith.
"A two-fold problem that we have here," said Brunberg,
"is that people not only have stereotypes of people from the
East, but they also have stereotypes of Jewish people. They
sort of fold into one another."
"A Midwesterner's (view)," said Brunberg, "is (that of) a
foreign, unfamiliar kind of Eastern Jewish person who wears
cluttered clothing and talks at a fast pace and has a lot of
friends around him or her all the time."

Flicker is The Daily's Arts Editor.



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