April 03, 2013

Rejected student wishes she were Native

Pittsburgh Student Propagates Stereotypes in WSJ LetterAll Native American students get into college easily and for free, right? Hardly. But it’s a common misconception among the uneducated populace, many of whom also think all Indians are wealthy from casino money.

Case in point: On Saturday, March 29, the Wall Street Journal posted a letter titled “To (All) the Colleges That Rejected Me,” in which Taylor Allderdice High School senior Suzy Lee Weiss, who by her own admission offers “about as much diversity as a saltine cracker,” complains about not getting accepted into her dream college.

She blames this on colleges advising applicants to “Just be yourself.”

“That is great advice, as long as yourself has nine extracurriculars, six leadership positions, three varsity sports, killer SAT scores and two moms,” Weiss says.

She also points to her lack of diversity as a factor in her not being accepted.

“Had I known two years ago what I know now, I would have gladly worn a headdress to school. Show me to any closet, and I would've happily come out of it,” Weiss says. “I would've been any of the diversities: Navajo, Pacific Islander, anything. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, I salute you and your 1/32 Cherokee heritage.”

Besides egregiously insulting sacred spiritual regalia, Weiss’s comments belie the experience of Native college students, who work just as hard to get into college as their “saltine” counterparts.
Wall Street Journal gets a D in feminism

In two ridiculous recent stories, the paper brushes off women and their college aspirations

By Mary Elizabeth Williams
This just in from the Wall Street Journal: It’s so cute when girls want to go college. Bonus: That’s where the husbands are! The paper of record for rich white men has been taking an active interest in the matriculation habits of females of late, and the impression it would like you to have sure isn’t one that suggests anything resembling academic ambition or intellectual qualification.

First, there was the head-scratchingly nonsensical, Liz Wurtzel-level self-indulgent tantrum that the paper ran over the weekend, by high school senior Suzy Lee Weiss. Weiss’ qualifications for gaining the editorial real estate for an open letter “To (All) the Colleges That Rejected Me” in the Journal? Being the “sassy” sister of former Wall Street Journal editorial features editor Bari Weiss, and having a conniption that she “failed to get into the colleges” of her dreams.

Where did it all go so wrong for the younger Weiss sister? How were her dreams so thoroughly dashed? Weiss has a few theories. For starters, she writes, with a blithe lack of self-awareness, that “I bet if I’d had great SAT scores, they would have accepted me.”

She further complains that, had she known better, “I would have gladly worn a headdress to school. Show me to any closet, and I would’ve happily come out of it…. If it were up to me, I would’ve been any of the diversities: Navajo, Pacific Islander, anything. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, I salute you and your 1/32 Cherokee heritage.” And while she was at it, she would have gone to Africa to “scoop up some suffering child, take a few pictures, and write my essays about how spending that afternoon with Kinto changed my life.” If only she had done better on the SATs! Hint: yes. Nah, she just should have been a minority! Or at least touched one at some point!
Natives respond

A few Facebook responses to the first article:Moya-Smith pretty much sums it up. “Sadly, she’s the next generation of white ignorance.” Her statements shed more light on community service only being done to check off on an admissions to do list. So how do you weed through the ones that actually care and want change, from those who write what will get them in?

The last line is important: "Many called her racist, homophobic and lazy—though there was nary a mention of her misperceptions regarding Native heritage." And given the tone and context of her letter, I don't think she'll be stepping up to the plate to explore those misperceptions, let alone deconstruct them for the public.

Seems to me that this student isn't interested in higher education, or much of anything for that matter. She expresses no interests other than getting into a "name brand" school, as if being rejected to her top choice is some sort of apartheidism, akin to not being allowed to sit at the front of the bus, or not being admitted to a Fendi trunk show. What does she want to study? Why is that school so critical to her intellectual development? The ranter doesn't provide any justification for why she should have been admitted, other than she's satisfied the basic requirements. Sadly, she's approaching college admissions solely as a consumer. While it's true that she's young, and that students often experience a few paradigm shifts and even some radical transformations in college, these can happen at *any* college--and maybe it's more likely to happen for her at a school where she is forced to mingle and work with people she currently prefers to dismiss.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Canadians Think Natives Are Well-Funded and Teenager Thinks Indians Get Free Ride.


Anonymous said...

Don't women get affirmative action, regardless of race, anyway? As she herself admits, she was unqualified due to poor academic record.

Note to white people: If your SAT composite is only in the triple digits, you didn't get in because of that.

Library Diva said...

Wow, pathetic-sounding rant. Little does this girl realize that college -- any college -- is what you make of it. You can get a great education at a mediocre school. I did. I went to an undistinguished state college. I took on two minors in addition to my major. I played in the orchestra and joined the Center for Womyn's Concerns. I went to lots of lectures, films and musical performances, even ones that weren't my particular cup of tea. For the first time in my life, I had black friends, gay friends, Jewish friends, Native American friends, friends who were so citified they didn't even know how to drive, and friends who were so countrified that they'd been driving since they were 12 and had difficulty breaking the habit of waking up at 4 AM. I studied abroad for a semester. I learned about jazz, about Native American issues, about film as an art form, all kinds of things. All because I opened my mind and took advantage of what was in front of me. Just like you don't become fit by simply joining a gym, you don't become well-educated simply by enrolling in a fancy college. It's what you make of it. I hope that's a lesson this girl learns, but I suspect that she'll just spend the next four years whining about her situation and looking down on her classmates.

dmarks said...

The blatantly racist admissions/etc policies of many universities are the root cause of this problem.

The University of Michigan, for example, has vigorously defended it policy of punishing and rewarding people with a point system based on race aimed at tilting the playing field and denying equal opportunity.

These universities should abolish these racist polices and level the playing field.

Rob said...

Racism has been tilting the playing field for several hundred years, DMarks. Eliminating race as an admissions factor means restoring the tilted field that favors white people. It does not mean creating a level playing field for everyone.