Friday, January 3, 2014

Zayt mir moykhl! Redt ir Terp-ish?

My mother forwards me the Terrapin Alumni Magazines that regularly arrive in their mailbox in Virginia; one of the few perks of paying my alumni dues to the University of Maryland.  It is definitely not the most brilliant thing gracing the top of my toilet tank (that would be Lilith Magazine), but it beats Entertainment Weekly.

I think the theory behind the magazine is that I will see all the wonderful things that my school is currently doing, and be so enthralled that I send them money.  I don’t do that.  That would be crazy.  Besides, they already got enough money from me. 

But I do get a warm feeling that my school was a good choice.  And sometimes, we all need warm fuzzy feelings to radiate from our diplomas.

I was recently on an interview panel, and one of the candidates for a job listed that he was a graduate of the University of Maryland.  Though awkwardly worded, he noted the location of the school was College Park.  I was so excited!  

I wanted to let him know he had an in with one of the interviewers so I asked a friendly question about his time in College Park.

Like Gene Wilder as Eastern European Rabbi in the Frisco Kid, I wanted to scream out “Landsman!” upon seeing my peer group in the middle of nowhere.  But like Gene Wilder’s character, the response I got dumfounded me.  Amish people are not rabbis.  UMUC (University of Maryland University College) Graduates aren’t UMCP graduates.  This guy went to UMUC entirely while living in Okinawa.

I might be a snob. 

I’m not sure what to do with UMUC students and graduates.  I like that people are sending money to my favorite alma-mater (I list it above my graduate school), but I have personal angst with the program – or at least what I’ve seen of it out here.  While I have significantly more respect for UMUC than I do a lot of distance education programs, I struggle with my need for warm-fuzzies off my diploma.

Students at UMUC didn’t stand by the mailbox casting spells to make sure that the acceptance letter from their school of choice was in the affirmative. The academics are not as rigorous, and the professors don’t take delight in crushing the religious and philosophical beliefs of their students.    The camaraderie of standing in the middle of US Rte 1 yelling obscenities at the fuzz doesn’t exist in their world. They never submitted their name for a lottery to see a game that they didn’t want to see in hopes of getting a Duke-UMD ticket, never stepped foot in Cole Field House, never were issued free shirts from Chevy Chase Bank at a football game.

Many of them did other awesome things.  Like fight in wars and save the Phillipines from a series of horrible typhoons… But they didn’t go to “Maryland.”  It doesn’t make them bad people (unless they falsify a resume), but it doesn’t make them Terps.

Leora says I’m definitely a snob; she’s probably right.  I think I’m just protective of my warm fuzzies.

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