Forum: Luke Seemann05.29.98
Go, Wildcats! And take Bienen with you!

Madame de Pompadour said it first, but it bears repeating: "After us, the deluge."

She merely forecast a trifle known as the French Revolution. After four years of hedonism, Northwestern seniors leave a much more volatile legacy: Campaign Northwestern.

When I considered transferring here, I surveyed random students to see what they disliked about NU. To a person, they were stumped.

Two years later, I've found but two credible gripes: winter and registration. We must wear coats and thrice a year must wait in line. Oh, the horror!

Having done hard time at a state school, I'm one of the few who realize how good we have it. The student who can't find what she wants here isn't looking hard enough. (Or she's looking for alternative student media or Asian-American studies, but that's another column.)

It's more than being around smarter and more exciting people: The profs are renowned, the plumbing works and, believe it or not, the dorm food is actually decent.

Indeed, these two years at NU have been the best of my life, even better than the years in which my only concerns were meals, naps and the occasional burping from Mom.

But enough about high school.

That said, I'm bumfuzzled by the haste to make things better.

I see Campaign Northwestern and its attendant tuition increase as little but jealous vanity. For years, college presidents have met in locker rooms to compare the size of their endowments. Old Man Bienen is simply tired of being the pimply kid hiding behind the shower curtain.

One has to wonder if the contest would last if more than eight of our 71 Trustees were women.

Vanity has its price: When tuition laps inflation, the student body becomes wealthier, whiter and less qualified.

If the 16 percent tuition hike had occurred two years earlier, I might not have come myself, and a less desirable student would have in my stead. Imagine: classes with people less talented and good-looking than I. Talk about horror!

Imagine this: When it comes time to educate our own children, four years at NU will cost more than half a million dollars. It's enough to discourage even having children. Do you hear that, Old Man Bienen? You've driven me to celibacy! I hope you sleep well at night. God knows I don't.

In his quest to paint NU crimson, Bienen neglects one important statistic: Harvard this year has seen four suicides.

Deputy Chief Steve Horton of University Police can't remember the last NU suicide, not counting last year's Wisconsin game.

Yes, there is a dark side to greatness. If we truly become Harvard's peer, the stress will kill us, our football team will stink even more and people will assume we're pretentious jerks before even meeting us to find out for sure. How do you like them apples?

In fact, we don't deserve education as good as we already have it. NU should go the other direction: cut tuition, increase class sizes and put TRS-80s in our computer labs. If students are to whine, at least give them something to whine about.

Campaign Northwestern has many promises: free T-shirts, classrooms smarter than professors and the world's most expensive mini-golf course. But all things considered, it cannot promise a better university.

We like it here. Freshman retention is in the top ten nationally. Things are fine, Old Man Bienen. Now go away.

- Luke Seemann is a Medill senior. He can be reached at [email protected].

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