We are all pretentious, self-serving, arrogant trolls. I'm sure this is hardly news to you. We strut around campus in our uncomfortable Charles David high-heeled boots with our multi-colored Herve Chepelier bags, our outrageously priced Gucci watches, reeking of Armani cologne. When winter comes we don our Burberry scarves that look like horse blankets, and snuggle into our North Face jackets until we get home to type up our cover letters for overrated companies that will always accept at least one of us as a summer intern. As winter melts into spring we head to Jamaica and Cancun for spring break where we spend Daddy's trillions effortlessly, eating Chilean sea bass in a tomato couscous sauce at fancy, over-priced restaurants in our fancy, over-priced Diesel jeans. This isn't you, right? You don't have a Herve Chepelier, you don't have billions to spend, you don't even own a North Face catalog, let alone a jacket. Go on. Write a letter to the DP about how shocked and appalled you are that Ms. Horn has falsely characterized Penn's student community: "We're not all like that. My sneakers weren't made in a sweatshop by malnourished five-year-olds. Some of us don't care about labels, or jobs at rich corporations, or beauty on the outside. Beauty is on the inside, Ms. Horn. You are shallow. Shallow, shallow, shallow!" True, this description doesn't describe all Penn students, and you'd be right to write that letter (though admittedly, it's a little ridiculous that you'd actually take that tongue-in-cheek description seriously). The people described above are the stereotypes. In fact, there are thousands of people at Penn who aren't rampant consumers, who aren't hung up on labels, who have to work to pay for college, who have no sense of entitlement and who have dreams that don't involve big titles at big corporations. Sadly, though, to the rest of the world these stereotypes categorize all of us at Penn. Along with being one of the best schools in the country, Penn also totes in its Kate Spade bag the reputation of being one of the snottiest, too. Employers, journalists, even in our own community often think of us as pretentious, arrogant jerks. About three weeks ago, the cover article in The New York Times' Sunday Style section was devoted to addressing the attitude of entitlement that so many educated people our age seem to have. The article was written by an apparently bitter writer in his early thirties who was both amazed and annoyed at how interns and recent college graduates perpetually ask for more responsibilities. He was bothered that the "new kids" didn't get his obscure early 80s music references, how eager they were to take on new projects and how they all felt they were capable of more work and deserved a higher spot on the corporate totem pole. The gist of his article? These kids think they're entitled to real jobs with high paying salaries. They're not. The belief that schools like Penn produce self-serving students isn't even limited to the endless generalizations of articles in the Times. Last week, I attended a Career Services program called "What's Enough Money?" Before we created a hypothetical budget to deduce how much money recent graduates need to earn to live a reasonable lifestyle, one of the counselors told the 15 students present one of her biggest pet peeves -- that Penn students feel that they "deserve" a certain lifestyle and salary simply because they're Penn students. Even as we created our hypothetical budget, we seemed to be acting out her pet peeve. When she suggested that we don't have to live in Manhattan or San Francisco upon graduation -- that we could live in (gasp!) Brooklyn or (Good God!) Oakland -- we all looked at her rather skeptically. It's true. Though we're not all on the extreme side of the Arrogance and Entitlement Spectrum, the world thinks we've got a severe attitude problem. It's time to fix it. Let's keep the energetic, neurotic high-achiever part of who we are -- it makes us work harder. Despite what some apparently bitter contributor at the Times says, aspiring to bigger projects and thinking bigger ideas is what makes us important to the future of the American economy. But it's time for all of us to check our proverbial Herve Chepeliers, our Chilean sea bass and our "I deserve to be the CEO right after my internship" attitudes at the door. It's time to remember -- and to make sure that our "elders" know we remember -- that we have to work for what we want, and we don't simply deserve it.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.