Volume 92, Issue 12

Thursday, September 24, 1998

write all about it


A new rumour, a new reputation

Re: Welcome to Country Club U, Sept. 18

To the Editor:

Dispelling myths or creating them? Last week The Gazette printed a piece on Western's "rich and beautiful" stereotype but seemed to fail at making a point. I agree that Western's "Country Club U" reputation is both inaccurate and outdated but nonetheless, it serves a valuable purpose – recognition. Stereotypes are inevitable, but it's what you do with them that counts.

Obviously, a university that can't get anyone's attention is easily forgotten, if not quickly ignored. The University of Western Ontario is nationally known for its accomplishments, presence and school spirit. So what if our long list of praises are joined by a few over-exaggerated guesses at the size of student's piggy banks or after-class activities?

Similarly there are dozens of myths shared by Western students about other universities. For example, Waterloo, McGill, Guelph and UBC all have their respective stereotypes and yet, just like Western, they are some of the more prominent universities in the country. Reputations created by jokes between students or harmless rivalries serve only as word-of-mouth recognition of leading schools.

Peter Mercer pointed out that "Western has the highest number of OSAP recipients per capita among Ontario universities," in an ill-fated attempt to down-play this university's reputation. This is exactly how stereotypes about a school's image are created. Is he suggesting that students with financial aid are incapable of enjoying themselves to the extent of our supposed "blue-blooded" predecessors? That somehow OSAP is an indication of a generation's ability? Personally, I find shallow comments like Mercer's to be far more insulting than any fictitious stereotype created by students at other schools. It's extremely ignorant of Mercer to attempt to destroy one rumour by fuelling a new one.

Each one of us knows what it means to be a Western student and the pride that comes with it. It's time we built our own reputation instead of just settling for someone else's.

Brennan Wilkie


To Contact The Opinions Department: gazette.opinions@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998