Letter to the Editor

To the editor,

In the column, “It’s the system stupid” by Andrew Breland begins his article with a popular pop culture reference that has quickly turned into a classic meme: “What really grinds my gears.” Breland then goes on to state that the return of “prospies” and admissions open houses really grinds his gears. Further criticism is given to the fact that Case Western Reserve University’s admissions department has demonstrated “ineptitude in managing these open houses and campus tours by herding students in large groups around campus to see areas that are not meant to host those numbers, creating an inconvenience for current students. However, Breland’s biggest complaint has been that the tours on campus are too positive, dole out misleading information and overall don’t provide a real account of how life at CWRU is.

I, as Breland is, am a former tour guide and have a great problem with this article. The claim that students are herded into areas not meant for students of 30 to 80 students is a warranted complaint, but also a complaint which has no real solutions. In order for prospective students to get a good idea about which college to go to, they must visit the campus and see every nook and cranny that is available for them to see. CWRU, unlike many other schools, offers comprehensive tours which not only allow one to see academic buildings, but how student life and residential life is on campus as well. These insights are incredibly valuable to incoming students and help them make their future college decisions.

Breland’s next complaint was that while following a tour he heard the tour guide state things that he believes are either false or objectionable. One such statement is that “meal plans can be used everywhere.” While this is obviously not a true statement, there are plenty of options on campus to use meal swipes: the Jolly Scholar, Leutner, Fribley, the Rough Rider Room, Denny’s, Grab-it and Bag-it. These are located all over campus and are within a five to 10 minute walk of classes on either the quad or Mather quad. Another such statement was that there are tons of meal options between classes. While obviously most options do not accept meal plans, Case Cash is widely accepted, and this is not a false statement. There are a plethora of options to eat in-between classes from locations on Euclid to Einstein’s to Chutney Rolls to Tomlinson’s Cafe to the Tinkham Veale University Center or the Jolly Scholar.

Breland’s biggest complaint was that when asked if there was anything she disliked about CWRU, the tour guide stated that she had none. Breland then went on to assume that the tour guide was probably a sophomore engineer who is naive. To assume such a thing is not only offensive to someone who has to go through an interview process to be hired as a tour guide (as Breland is well aware of), but is also offensive to anyone who considers themselves to be serious students and future leaders. His statement, published in The Observer, also makes it come across as if all engineers are naive and not aware, which is perhaps why there is little love between humanities and engineering. His complaint is half warranted in that the tour guide has no complaints about CWRU, which we all know to be false; we have all found something to complain about.

Perhaps it is the fault of admissions in their training to not tell their tour guides to always have one complaint ready to tell students. Or perhaps the tour guide actually has had no complaints and has had a perfect CWRU experience so far. Breland complains that tour guides talk up the university to make students fit into the CWRU machine and not to actually help the students, but to help themselves as if they are a business. Now while this may be a fair complaint and in an ideal world we would help all students who want to come to CWRU, we cannot. We only have so much space and CWRU has to accept the best and brightest, not only to make CWRU look better as Breland believes is the only motive, but also to better the rest of the student population as well. The better and smarter your classmates and friends are, the more likely you will strive to be better as well. It may not seem fair and it may seem like a game of numbers, but maybe it is just the system, stupid.

Krishna Mahadevan
Class of 2016