A slogan, oft-quoted at the University of Michigan, used to denote Michigan's supposed superiority over Harvard. It implies that Michigan is the academic standard by which Harvard is judged.

The phrase itself is somehow a tad biased. U of M, you see, is not an Ivy League school. It may whip the hell out of all the other Big Ten universities' football teams, boast various Nobel Prize-winning emeriti as well as an array of the most successful alumni in the country, and host (or "host", I suppose, since the university itself wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole) renowned events such as Hash Bash, but it isn't in the Ivy League and probably never will be.

This little distinction tends to really piss off various U of M denizens. See, this is THE big school in Michigan, the only state school that Michigan high school kids really aspire to. The smart kids go here--valedictorians, debate team captains, Quiz Bowl champions, student council presidents. Many of them go for academics as opposed to sports, the other big thing for which Michigan is known. Many of their parents are alumni; many of their relatives' fabulous law or medical careers started at U of M. These kids have heard about this school for years: what a great time their parents had there! What a fantastic academic environment! What fabulous social activities!

And so they apply, and are happy to be accepted into such a great school. They love Michigan. There is no better school than Michigan.

Except the Ivy League. Except Harvard. Those fuckers.

I have no idea why Harvard is targeted here: why not Yale, or Columbia? My guess is that, as the oldest school in the country, and arguably the most prestigious, Harvard is being used to represent the entirety of the Ivy League. And Michigan is standing there, before the 24-karat gold gates, yelling, yelling, yelling.

We're just as good as they are. We should belong.

But they don't. The Ivy League is fundamentally closed; no applications are being accepted. No matter how hard Michigan tries, it is not and will not be an Ivy League school. Sure, they have their sports reputation, their laurels on which to rest. They have their top-flight departments; they have their astonishing funding; they have their new biomedical complex under construction. But no matter how many professors rise to fame and glory, no matter how many alumni become president, no matter what, there is nothing they can do.

The University of Michigan does not like this. Not one little bit. And it's not just the undergraduate students who don't like it. The grad students, the professors, the alumni, the administration, down to the departmental secretaries and the payroll department: they hate it. At my graduation for my master's program a year ago, one of the speakers even made a remark to this effect. Harvard may make leaders, but Michigan makes scholars. (Not athletes--see, Michigan is not just an athletics school, it makes scholars!) It got the biggest cheer of the afternoon.

They all harbor a growing resentment toward the Ivy League. That barred establishment, that bastion of intellect. They get angry. They get snide. They get mean.

Then they start printing up T-shirts.

We're better than they are.

It's Michigan, Michigan all the way.

Sniveling East coast snobs.

You don't even have good sports.

Um...hey, guys?

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