The students of Georgetown University have a disease. There is no medical term for it, but if there were, it would be Ivy Envy. Here we are, presented with the opportunity to study at one of the greatest universities in the world, and so many of us walk around ungrateful to be here. There are students on this campus who, whether or not they say it, are angry to be at this campus. They are angry with their guidance counselors, the teachers who wrote their letters of recommendation and sometimes themselves for not having been good enough to be somewhere else. They walk around with a bad attitude, complain about their lame classes and constantly bash the university. Do they donate money once they graduate? To a second rate Harvard on the banks of the Potomac? No, because for so many students at Georgetown, their lives were ruined the day they were rejected from Harvard or Princeton or Yale.

Far too often these Ivy League-rejects bring the aura of rejection with them and sadly this aura poisons our university community. So much of the apathy on this campus can be attributed directly to the mindset that students assumed the day they got the little white envelope from Princeton instead of the big manila envelope. If it is not the Ivy League school they dreamed of going to their whole life, why bother? Why work as hard as possible? Why participate in class discussions? Why care about this place? I might have been rejected from Princeton, but at least I can be better than all these people who, pathetically, want to be at Georgetown. What a lame mindset. It is time to grow up.

At the convocation ceremony for the class of 2005, President Jack DeGioia walked us through an exercise that is worth remembering and relating to everyone at this university. On the back of our convocation folders were little colored stickers. He asked all the people with a yellow sticker to stand up. One sixth of the auditorium stood-up, representing the one sixth of the world population, the one billion people that have to live on less than one dollar a day. Next, those with a red sticker, who represented the millions and millions of people who do not have access to clean drinking water. Next, those with blue stickers, representing the millions and millions who go hungry. Next, those with green stickers, representing those who never attain a sixth grade education. Finally, he called for those with purple stickers to stand up, representing the percentage of people in the world who have the opportunity to study at a university with a world-class reputation like Georgetown. One person rose.

The fact that there is one person at this university who is ungrateful to be here is sickening. To display or even possess ingratitude at being relegated to this university is anathema to every thing this university represents. If the university wishes to enrich the campus culture, a good step would be actively discouraging students who see Georgetown as a safety school – who approach the application process with the thought, “if I can’t get in anywhere good, I’ll go to Georgetown.”

A friend of mine from home recently spent a semester at American University while interning with our senator. He once mentioned, “you wouldn’t believe how many people here at American always complain they wish they were at Georgetown but didn’t get in.” At Catholic University and George Washington, the story is the same. Across the country there are thousands of students who wanted to go to Georgetown University and did not gain admittance. Imagine the positive energy that would permeate the university, if the majority of students wanted, more than anything, to be at Georgetown University. There are enough students out there that this could be a reality. The university should be willing to reject highly-qualified candidates who do not really want to be at Georgetown in favor of less qualified students who want, more than anything, to be at Georgetown.

Merely looking at the other schools a student is applying to could provide some insight into how the student views Georgetown. If the student is applying from some elite boarding school where an Ivy League education is ingrained into the minds of the students as the next step in their path toward a truly blue-blooded education, and if the only other schools the student is applying to are Ivy League schools – then it might be a safe bet that Georgetown is a safety school. This student might be less than enthused about being at Georgetown when half his classmates got into a university that U.S. News and World Report says is better. If the student, however, is from some public high school where 90% of the college-bound attend school in-state, and if the student is applying to George Washington, American, and Georgetown – then there is a pretty good chance that this student wants more than anything to be studying in D.C. at the best school possible. If the average SAT scores of students drop, but the enthusiasm of the student body increases the Georgetown experience would be improved immensely for everyone at the university. The improvement of the university would speak for itself and the rankings would reflect this.

The reason this university sometimes feels like a second-rate Harvard on the banks of the Potomac, is because of the ingrates, the Ivy League-rejects. Every time one of these rejects mocks somebody who is enthusiastic in class, this university gets worse. Every time someone at this university says “I wish I were with my friend at Yale”, this university gets worse. Georgetown is a great university, and the last barrier for this university to become a true first-rate university lies only in the minds of the students who still fail to accept it as such.

Look around this campus and think who the losers are. The losers are not the people sitting in the front of the class who are interested in their professors and try to learn as much as they can. Those people got what they wanted – they are happy to be here. The losers are the ones laughing at them, while they wish they were at Yale.

We are incredibly fortunate to be here. We are the one person in a thousand standing up. It is about time we started acting like it.

Josh Zumbrun is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service and Viewpoint Editor for The Hoya.

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