Thursday, June 19, 2008

yeah, we're like, so elitist.

Today I'd like to tackle one of the topics that people often refer to in conjunction with UVA. We're stuck up, pretentious and elitist snobs (or however kind or even uglier you've heard). Reasoning behind these labels often include our lingo, "Oh look at them, they're so snobby they even have their own language, like they're too good for regular terms and phrases."

Well... no. That's not why we have our own terms of 'Grounds' and 'first year, second year, etcetc.' To explain why we have that, we need to go back to our founder, Thomas Jefferson. He believed that learning could never end. You couldn't be a senior and be some ultimate master of wisdom. That's why we call our seniors (and each respective grade accordingly) fourth years, thereby indicating that they have more years of learning ahead of them, that they can go on to explore more fields. (Now the following is my opinion...) I rather think that's a humble way to view oneself, that no matter how much you know, there's always a never ending horizon of learning ahead of you. As for substituting Grounds for campus... I'm not sure why anymore. But Jefferson insisted on it and so we respect his wishes.

What else? Ah yes, we're preppy and thus somehow elitist (elitist and preppy seem to be synonymous to some people..). I do admit, we do have more students dressed more preppily than maybe your average college. But seriously, we have 13,000 undergrads. There's such a span of diversity in it that I don't really understand how we're elitist (in the sense that we're all white, wealthy, and who knows what else). We have your liberals, your conservatives, your moderates, and everyone in between. If you're a numbers person, we have 15% Asian Americans, 14% African Americans, 10% Hispanic Americans, 5% international, and so on and so forth. We even have 2% Native American (I may be wrong on that number). We did away with our Early Decision so those with a lower socioeconomic background have a greater chance of attending. We have an entire program (AccessUVA) designed specifically for people in financial straits. But back to clothing. I think the preppiest thing I own is probably a pair of fleece lined Sperry's. Can't help it, they're warm and perfect for winter time. Not all students walk around with popped collars and plaid shorts. To blanketly stereotype UVA students would do us a huge disservice.

The rest of this mistaken reputation may come from the fact that UVA graduates tend to sing our alma mater's praises whenever we're asked about her. Again, can't help it. UVA is an amazing place to be and people are just really happy here. Everyone gets so involved and fired up about their organizations. Students are genuinely passionate about what they study. We have the benefit of attending school in an amazingly beautiful campus. Charlottesville city is a really nice place to be. We're proud of what we have here. And alright, we may be a bit too proud. But how many colleges can boast having a President as one of their founders? On Thomas Jefferson's grave, he has the epitaphs of 'Writer of the Declaration of Independence' and 'Founder of the University of Virginia'.

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