Deconstructing The Social Ivy: Penn students “cool, friendly”; all other Ivies “anti-social shut-ins”

Just when you thought Penn couldn’t get any more obnoxious, its pompous and “generous” alumni are dropping big money to “widen the gap between the cool, friendly kids of Penn and the anti-social shut-ins at other Ivies.” The Social Ivy strives to facilitate social interactions between Penn students by covering part of the cost of their social gatherings, mainly dinners during which non-alcoholic drinks are served. Upon learning of this initiative, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale collectively projectile vomited on the city of Philadelphia in disgust. Benjamin Franklin must be turning in his grave.

To sign up for a table at a restaurant, the site must deem you “worthy”—upon picking a table, you must answer a question correctly to qualify. Why do these students need to prove that they’re worthy? According to the website’s FAQ section, “Alumni want to unite the best and only the best. The Social Ivy ensures that the students who get together to share ideas and have a good time are not only cool and interesting, but also smart and informed.” These “Very Important People” in the Penn community must have the “swagger” and the “confidence” to invite their friends to these events and network; in doing so, they “prove they’re suave” (emphasis mine… and if The Social Ivy’s creative team believes that suaveness takes human form in any of the individuals pictured above, it is seriously mistaken).

It’s bad enough to call the highly intelligent, driven, and hard-working students at the other seven Ivy League institutions anti-social hermits. But here’s the bigger problem: The site’s goal of getting “Very Important People” together to interact with one another comes with the caveat that not all Penn students are cool and interesting, nor smart and informed. In its attempt to unite its students around a shared notion of superiority—all while it actively stereotypes, labels, and insults the institutions of higher education to which it is frequently compared—The Social Ivy simultaneously excludes its own students who do not achieve this “social,” “suave,” and “cool” ideal promulgated by the school’s alumni and the website’s creators.

…and it gets worse. According to the site, the “VIP is able to use Social Ivy to compliment friends—you’re cool, so let me buy you a drink and let’s hang out.” Invites shouldn’t be considered compliments; compliments are compliments. This site actually rewards social exclusion by making it “cool.” If The Social Ivy is meant to succeed on an exclusionary basis, then the concept is inherently divisive to the community that it seeks to unite, thereby undermining its mission.

At Brown, we don’t have that problem—we are all here because we’re smart, interesting, talented, and wonderful people, and we don’t need subsidized meals and drinks, “generous” alumni, nor “Very Important People” to remind us of that. Finally, we’re not a community of “anti-social shut-ins”— we’re a student body of curious, supportive, and excited individuals that seeks to learn and grow from members of our community, not to marginalize students who aren’t “worthy.” We actively show our gratitude and love for one another, and we couldn’t be prouder of it.


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