As students at Cornell, we are bound by the mundane, yet special details of everyday life in Ithaca. The drunken freshman nights ordering Nasties chicken tenders, the Goldwin Smith lectures in 95 degree August afternoons, the hopelessness of trudging up Libe slope in L.L. Bean duck boots — these are dues every Cornellian needs to pay to receive their diplomas. However, the one fundamental, central bond that bring us together as a community is the fact that all of us were rejected from Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford. And while we’re at it — probably Columbia, MIT and UChicago. This principal truth — the Cornell Inferiority Complex — is the essence of the campus’ heartbeat, and without it, our identity as an institution would forever be lost.
It might all be different if the Cornell Inferiority Complex were a chip on the shoulder, à la Tom Brady, propelling us to post-graduation greatness and unparalleled success. However, at some point, we have to come to terms with the fact that as much as we love Bill Nye, he just doesn’t really cut it along the likes of Obama, Zuckerberg or even — well, Donald. In fact, there’s really no point playing the alumni name-drop game with other Ivy League kids. It’s like playing Pokemon cards in the playground, and while the other kids are throwing down Charizard and Dragonite, we’re sitting in the corner twiddling with our Psyduck. Don’t get me wrong, Psyduck is a great pokemon — but we have to accept that Psyduck really has no place in the ring with Bill Gates or Warren Buffett.
Furthermore, let’s address our collective embrace of Andy Bernard, the meme of NBC’s The Office. Like a ritual, pre-frosh set Facebook cover photos every March to the same screen cap of the famous Andy Barnard “Cornell, have you ever heard of it?” scene. Though it is objectively cool that our school played a semi-prominent role in what is objectively the best sitcom of the 21st century, we conveniently ignore the fact that Andy Bernard is a caricature of the simple-minded, silver-spooned brat who breathes mediocrity. I promise you, if you knew a Andy Bernard in real life, you would do your best to disassociate yourself with not only him, but any organization he may be tangentially related to. But because the list of Cornell folk heroes is short, we are relegated to having Andy Bernard as our token symbol of school pride.
There is no doubt that the Cornell Inferiority Complex will live with us beyond graduation. We will have job interviews in the future where we murmur “fuck” under our breaths when we find out the kid going after us went to Yale. In Conan O’Brien’s 2011 commencement speech at Dartmouth, he compared the Ivy Leagues, proclaiming, “if Harvard, Yale, and Princeton are [the] self-involved, vain, name-dropping older brothers, [Dartmouth is] the cool, sexually confident, lacrosse playing younger sibling who knows how to throw a party and looks good in a down vest. Brown, of course, is [the] lesbian sister who never leaves her room. And Penn, Columbia, and Cornell — well, frankly, who gives a shit.”
Well, despite all of this, I find that two weeks into my third year here, I give a shit. Cornell has a funny way of making you find comfort and bliss in its pitiful misery. Shithica is my home, and just like only I can pick on my little brother, those ostentatious shits in Cambridge or New Haven have no right attacking my school. Because I am damn proud of the fact that we have the world’s best hotel school, and you know what? — they serve some MEAN burritos for lunch. When I hear the Alma Mater ringing through the Arts Quad, I feel a sense of nationalistic pride that I feel only for the Apollo 11 moon landing and the South Korean speed skating team. RBG will forever be the greatest Supreme Court justice of all time, and actually — scratch what I said before — Bill Nye is fucking awesome. So the next time you read another email from Denice A. Cassaro, let the spirit of Ezra flow through you because it is something that only we will ever share. Hail, all hail, Cornell.
Jason Jeong is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jeongism appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.