Because someone had to say it

What CWRU is really teaching

Abby Armato

Now that I am well-immersed in Case Western Reserve University culture, I decided to do a bit more research on how others have enjoyed their CWRU experience. Like any good college student, I began with Wikipedia. The results were rather bland, regurgitating facts I had heard on my tour as a school-searching high school senior. But luckily, if CWRU has taught me anything, it is how to research. And what source is more reliable than Urban Dictionary?

With words and phrases of literary genius such as “going batman,” “radcliffy” and “dank,” from the tamer end of the spectrum, the brilliance of Urban Dictionary is a force to be reckoned with. I figured this would be the place to get a true glimpse of CWRU’s reputation according to its students, and in turning to Urban Dictionary, I found a variety of responses.

There are some positive posts:
“For students who are aware of what Case has to offer, there is no better educational opportunity in the country.”

Some humorous:
“It’s the only university [in] the country where having a better computer is more important than a girlfriend”

But, unfortunately for our university, many negative:
“If you have a good sense of humor, you can come to Case, observe that … you have ‘one of those days’ every single day…and laugh about it.”
“If you want an education that only involves you training for a specific job, come to Case. If you want an education that has a less myopic focus, Case probably isn’t the place for you.”
“Synonyms: Case, Hell, Nerd’s Xanadu, pit of despair from which you shall never escape”

Let’s talk about this—there is a lot of resentment in these posts. Granted, Urban Dictionary is a place to publicly and anonymously vent, and we all know how dangerous that can be. But these concerns cannot be simply marginalized because of the nature of their forum. People feel this way, past and present.

So what’s happening? One post on the website suggests, “Most of the people who have a problem with [Case] are just those who are bitter about the fact that they… had to settle for Case.” Well, isn’t this a nice, compact answer. No, of course there is nothing really that wrong with the institution; everyone who’s unhappy is just bitter.

To this logic I say: Dear Sir or Madam, I got into a variety of schools, turned them down for CWRU and still have problems with this school. And I know I am not alone.

Less sarcastically, there are a number of students at CWRU who originally considered it a fallback school. But it is unfair to the rest of the community to suggest that we are unhappy here because we couldn’t get in to our top school. There is something bigger going on here. Something we weren’t told on the visits, in the initial research, in the local reach-out lectures.

Let’s get personal for a couple sentences. Despite getting flack for choosing CWRU over University of Chicago, I embraced the whole “think beyond the possible” as much as I could. I didn’t know of CWRU’s somewhat negative reputation and that was just fine. During orientation week, I ran into an alumnus from my high school. When she saw me, she said something along the lines of “Oh! You chose to come here? Honestly, I was going to tell you not to. It’s pretty rough.” I had hoped this was just because college is rough in general. But, after my first semester, I have learned that the negative feelings toward CWRU in particular are popular among the community.

I do not want to list out my negative feelings here because we hear enough of them. What I want to do with my remaining characters is to reach out to the administration. Yes, you have students who are happy and thriving on your campus. But you also have a large chunk who are not. It is not because these students are lazy or immature or bitter, but because needs aren’t being met. These students cannot be ignored.

I think the biggest problem is the lack of personal attention. On my acceptance letter, the brilliant Director of Undergraduate Admissions Bob McCullough wrote a personalized P.S. to me. This P.S. gave a sense of reflection from the CWRU administration. Since that letter, I have found very little thought given to the individual. A response may be that I am only a first-year and I shouldn’t worry because things get better.

I’m sorry, but that is not good enough. That means I’ve spent 25 percent of my college experience floundering. That means I’ve spent $58,228 to be unhappy at a college I feel doesn’t really care. More importantly for the institution, that means you have sophomores who are beaten down and posting negative descriptions of CWRU for prospective students to see. No one wins.

While there are many students who are happy at CWRU, a portion of the student body is not satisfied. The solution is twofold. First, the administration needs to show interest in the needs that they are not meeting for their students. I suggested a lack of personal attention as the main cause for bitterness, but that’s my opinion. Secondly, students need to find ways to articulate what they are struggling with to the administration. Posting publically and anonymously is a fine way to vent stress but it isn’t very constructive to fixing the problems. If both sides of the CWRU community can come together and find solutions to the complaints, the campus would be a warmer place, despite the winter snow.

Abby Armato is a first-year student currently majoring in English and anthropology. When she is not freaking out about impending adulthood, she enjoys various strokes of creativity, determination and passion.