Russell P. Subin

I had ivy envy, but now they need to be schooled

I had ivy envy. No longer. The ivy has turned brown and we all know why. 

It started in high school with college envy. My classmates with good grades and high SAT scores went to the ivy leagues and other top-tier schools. I attended a city college. Yes, a great education at a great price. Sufficient to learn critical thinking and to prepare me for the next stages of life. But, let’s be honest, the ivy envy was there. I remember enviously  thinking that these ivy-bound classmates will undoubtedly have great careers.   

Then came law school envy. Good grades, but mediocre LSAT scores meant I’d attend a second-tier law school, not affiliated with any university. Eventually, I got a postgraduate degree in tax law and then a job. But I would still consider my colleagues from those elite schools amongst the brightness and best tax lawyers. While I had many disagreements with these colleagues, their positions were always well grounded, their memos perfectly crafted, and their critical thinking skills top notch.

These elite schools were not just the sum of their stellar students. They had respected faculty, deans, and board members, many who held prestigious positions outside of academia. Faculty at these elite schools were world-class scholars, and dreams of being taught by  Professor Kingsfield from The Paper Chase would always be out of my reach. 

But the ivy is dying. We’ve all seen the idiotic positions students are espousing on campus. Chanting “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free.” Yet when asked what river and what sea, they don’t know. Many claim to be peace-loving but then chant this genocidal slogan not even knowing what it really means. In my day, such students would never pass the dreaded call-back lunch interview. There is a famous story about an executive who used to take prospective hires out for lunch. If prospective hires salted their food before tasting it, they wouldn’t get hired. Why? Because they acted without knowing all the facts. They couldn’t possibly know how salty the food was before tasting it. Yet, this generation of students chant statements not knowing what they mean or taking the time to actually understand the facts. 

These ivy league students are spoon fed information from professors with morally unsound ideas. And yes that’s the best light I can put to these ideas. These students have no ability to appreciate nuance because they are not taught how to think for themselves or do meaningful research. They are blindly following the crowd without understanding what is going on. They think silence is violence but violence is justified if it is for their cause. 

The university faculty themselves lack critical thought and fairness. They shout for freedom of speech but ban speakers they don’t agree with and silence their own students who hold opposing views. They can’t recognize that if certain actions are hate speech towards one group they are equally hate speech for another. To them, context matters. What context? If a group doesn’t fit their likes, anything goes? These elite universities have lost it and I have lost all my respect for them.

Many of the lower-tier schools also suffer from these horrible ideas. But my thesis here is school envy. I would have thought the elites would be getting it right. But they are not. They are leading an entire generation down the wrong path. From what I can see, students currently coming out of ivy league schools no longer have an elite education. They lack critical thinking and a sense of fairness. I will continue to envy those that graduated from ivy league schools years ago, but the younger graduates have lost all clout in my book.  

While I had ivy envy, I also had envy of those street smart non-college educated entrepreneurs who took their talents, worked hard, and became more successful than college graduates. Don’t underestimate them, many of them understand that these ideas coming from the universities are just wrong. These people without college educations understand the importance of facts and fairness. They have always had intelligence you can’t measure by school grades or SAT scores. It was true then and it is even more true now. The gardener tending to the ivy at these elite institutions is probably smarter than the faculty and students attending them.  

About the Author
Russell Subin is a retired US tax lawyer living in Ra'anana, Israel.