Ivy Leaguers Should Spend More Time in the Library.
Take it from someone who did it and is about to do it again.
In a recent piece for The Atlantic, Elizabeth Bruenig (who is a very gifted writer, and also the owner of a great Twitter account where she posts lots of pictures of her very cute kids) writes about the recent brouhaha at Yale Law School over Professor Amy Chua’s alleged COVID-era dinner parties.
If you haven’t yet heard of the Chua saga, well … Congratulations—you have a life.
If you want the play-by-play of the whole debacle, feel free to read Bruenig’s full piece. I’m not going to waste time on all the details here, because frankly, it’s all so boring. That said, the sheer amount of snitching, bad-faith accusations, pettiness, and meanness being hurled at one another by the Yale Law students in the story is really something to behold.
And it made me think: What the hell are they doing?
If you’re lucky enough to attend a place like Yale—or any institution of higher learning—you shouldn’t be wasting your time on B.S. and gossip. You’ve been gifted with a world-class education.
Take it from a guy who knows. Despite all the attacks on universities (especially elite universities) from conservatives as bastions of wokeness (and from extreme leftists as aiders and abetters of various power structures), the truth is more complicated. In the end, they are still pretty spectacular places. I’m one of the lucky S.O.B.’s who got into and then recently graduated from Princeton, and I’m now headed to Harvard for law school in three short weeks.
I’m extremely grateful, not to mention lucky. Why? Because if you’re intellectually curious, if you want to learn, these are truly awesome places. You’re somewhere in your late-teens or early 20s, and you get to study under the leading experts in every field known to man. It’s really something. And better yet, you have access to these things called libraries, which seemingly house every book on the face of God’s green earth. These aren’t your local public libraries; they are absolute powerhouses of knowledge, teeming with resources. One of my favorite things to do at Princeton was to just walk around the B Floor—where all the political science and American history books were kept—eyeing the stacks. I’d pull out a book, page through it, and move to the next. Nerdy? Sure. But that’s why you go to a place like Princeton—to nerd out and learn, not to fall back into junior high, gossipy bull crap.
The opportunities for seeking truth, building knowledge, and just becoming an all-around more competent, learned person are truly boundless at elite universities in the U.S. today. Yet some students—I saw plenty of them up close at Princeton, and you can read about them at Yale Law in Bruenig’s piece—waste their time on petty B.S.
They spread rumors, get caught up in campus controversy, and just act plain silly. They don’t really study all that much, let alone go to the library. They’re too interested in one another, frankly, and not interested enough in the intellectual pursuits of which they’re all so privileged to be a part.
I guess I sound like an angry old man, but my advice to my fellow Ivy Leaguers is simple: When you have the urge to engross yourself in petty B.S. and take part in character assassinations, go read a damn book. Expand your worldview. Go learn something. Get out of your own little world. Quit the navel-gazing.
If America’s elites quit squandering their top-notch educations, maybe everyone else would quit resenting us so damn much. When the chatter coming out of the Yale Law class sounds just like the playground gossip of random Public Elementary School #86, I think it’s reasonable that people start resenting the Yale Law class. Because the Yalies are still being graced with the plum jobs and massive salaries, but they don’t seem to be, well, all that spectacular.
America’s elite will never garner any deserved respect from everybody else if they don’t earn it. And they’re not doing themselves any favors by acting like doofuses.