The Big Ten logo hides one of the most nefarious secret images since some guy snuck a penis onto The Little Mermaid VHS cover. Nestled next to the “T” are the outlines of two ones, shedding light on the conference’s horrible secret: There are actually 11 schools in the Big Ten. About as big a lie as saying everybody loves Raymond, the 11 implies one school doesn’t deserve to be included in the Big Ten. Northwestern sticks out like a cowboy hat at a wine-and-cheese party.
Now, before you start cursing me and wondering why you didn’t take American University’s full-ride, keep in mind NU plays Gallant to the rest of the Big Ten’s Goofuses. Northwestern is the only private school in the Big Ten, making it the smallest and most devoid of state funding. And, even though you hyper-sensitive types might argue adamantly, state schools are different from the pricier places, less Waiting for Godot and more Good Luck Chuck. Just because the rest of the conference imitates Cancun (weekly) and actually has good football programs, NU should never brush off the rest of the Big Ten as trash. Each school offers up great ideas our fair campus should adopt, stretching beyond “More keggers, please.”
10. I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! – Penn State
By the time February rolls around in Evanston, you’ll probably resemble a popsicle and want some spicier treats to warm you up, like molten lava. But scientific studies have shown that a strong ice cream presence in your life improves overall happiness.* Northwestern lacks a potent frozen dessert scene, explaining why so many students rarely leave their dorms and listen to Dave Matthews Band (I hope that’s the reason). Pennsylvania State University knows how to keep its 80,000 plus students happy. They have the Penn State Creamery to satiate students’ tastebuds. Offering enough flavors to put Baskin Robbins to shame, the Creamery creates ice cream, sherbet and cheese for daily consumption by college students and locals. The store stands as one of Penn State’s most popular landmarks, and one of the few things older than Joe Paterno. Northwestern could use fewer bleh fro-yo machines and more authentic ice cream bliss.
*Source of study: My head. Did you expect anything different?
9. Needs more novelty – Purdue University
The World’s Biggest Ball of Twine brings pride to the city of Cawker City, Kansas. The World’s Biggest Thermometer brings joy to Baker, California. Gimmicky objects, usually enormous in size, might seem super stupid, especially to the SAT-worshipping “wonderkids” at NU. But maybe pulling a Britney Spears wouldn’t be so bad for Northwestern. Out in West Lafayette, Purdue University claims not one nutty inanimate object, but three. And the kids just love them. Purdue lays claim to the World’s Biggest Drum (note: it doesn’t seem that big…) along with two badass miniature trains people drive on around the field during football games. Championing an oversized instrument and Thomas the Tank Engine wannabes seems stupid, but don’t tell the student body. They love these toys so much I think they’d take a cannonball to the face if it would save a drumstick. While Purdue rallies around gigantic noisemakers, the NU student body can unite over… Medill 2020’s suckitude? Northwestern needs something, even a 50-foot-tall gold Willie, to rally around and feel united.
8. Hoosier technologic daddy? – Indiana University
For a school so boastful of its greatness, Northwestern sure has a terrible technologic infrastructure. Wireless constantly goes out, NUIT moves at a FEMA-like pace and Webmail sucks. And, no, I am not switching to GMail; leave me alone already. In Indiana (state motto – Where Harry and the Hendersons could have been shot!), the public university’s tech setup eclipses NU’s by light-years. Home of America’s fastest university-owned supercomputer, the Hoosiers also boast connections with software creators in order to offer applications to students and a Blackboard-like site that people actually use. Indiana isn’t stopping there; in a truly new media-minded move, they plan to offer podcasts of certain classes to students. And, unlike NUIT, their technical assistance team will actually not make you want to join a traveling carnival.
7. Polka Party – University of Iowa
Coca-Cola products never fail to deliver. Regular Coke, Diet Coke, Cherry Coke…even the good-for-you (not really) Coke Plus is pretty tasty. But, for all their success, Coca-Cola had New Coke, the terrible 1980’s formula change that most normal people agreed sucked. Iowa would be the New Coke of the Big Ten, a school in the middle of nowhere lacking any defining characteristics. And, honestly, what else are you going to do on a Friday night in Iowa? The Hawkeyes do have one thing going for them that NU doesn’t: Iowa has “Hawkeye Victory Polka,” a polka (!) celebrating the awesomeness of beer and being alive. Sample lyrics: “In Heaven there is no beer/That’s why we drink it here.” Much more interesting than our funeral dirge-paced Alma Mater.
6. Always time for a zamboni – University of Minnesota
The Midwest conjures images of desolate cold and barren fields, a place not many people would want to frequent. Naturally, I also think of an NHL arena. Hockey has become a gag sport in America, but even though the NHL falls somewhere between Major League Lacrosse and the National Paintball League, the icy game still gets respect in the northern Midwest. The University of Minnesota houses one of the proudest NCAA hockey teams in the country, boasting five national championships and one of the rowdiest fan bases a hockey team will ever see. Being located in the Midwestern city, Chicago, Northwestern should celebrate its Midwestern-ness more than with awkward conversations about pop and ugly sweatshirts. When I think of the Midwest, I think of Mom and Pop stores, Garrison Keillor rambling about potluck dinners and kids playing hockey on a frozen lake. The Golden Gophers honor that time-honored and dangerous Midwestern tradition, and so should NU.
5. Big time party – University of Wisconsin
Northwestern doesn’t need to worry about a bad party scene: Anybody saying NU doesn’t party hard will spend most of their lives coming home from work, downing three bottles of Jack Daniels and going to bed in a bathtub. But our campus does need help in creating an event that actually catches the eyes of students at other colleges. Right now, NU has Dillo Day, which is basically a Friday night that happens during the day, but with a worse playlist. Yet what really sinks Dillo Day is how anti-social it is – students pretty much break into small groups to play Kings, stumble about, maybe go outside for a bit and then lock themselves indoors again.
The University of Wisconsin knows how to throw an event both communal and controversial. The State Street Halloween Party happens every…you guessed it, attracting upwards of 100,000 costumed people from around the Midwest to party it up. Now, the event isn’t perfect, as one of the unfortunate side effects seems to be property damage, but the event still gets more buzz than whatever frat house-turned-haunted house NU has to offer. Some big event doesn’t have to be fueled by booze to be good. No, really, stop laughing. NU needs a get-together that generates buzz at other Big Ten schools instead of an event best known for having that guy from Dispatch playing.
4. ? – Michigan State
I owe a big apology to the University of Iowa. You guys aren’t the worst school in the Big Ten, even with your vast fields of nothingness. Meet Michigan State, an unexciting school situated in the most boring part of a state best known for looking like a hand. I honestly can’t find one redeeming quality about Michigan State that NU should adopt, so instead I’ll offer up a buffet of fun facts, and maybe you can create your own value to adopt. DID YOU KNOW…
- Hybrid corn was engineered at MSU?
- MSU ranks in the top five universities for students studying abroad, because they can’t wait to escape the pit-stain that is East Lansing?
- Students at MSU probably quote 300 since, much like King Leonidas and his army of sexually-confused men, they are Spartans? Aren’t they creative?
- You can study abroad in Antarctica? People hate MSU so much that they would study in Antarctica?
- MSU wants to be a global leader by 2012? Good luck!
3. Upways, downways, sideways, diag-ways – University of Michigan
“Man, you know what sucks about NU? The student center. Bro, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but other schools have bowling alleys and Wendy’s in their unions. How come I can’t score some strikes while dipping my fries into my Frosty? And let me tell you about the dating scene…”
NU students have completely exhausted original reasons why NU sucks. We get it, Norris isn’t the greatest place on Earth, people don’t know how to party and dating sucks. Get over it, shut up, go on Craigslist. But I do agree with one common complaint: Northwestern does lack a central meeting spot where students can gather and read or throw around a Frisbee. The much-hated University of Michigan has a big place for students to chill, known as The Diag, due to the diagonal nature of the paths. According to Wikipedia, the Diag is the busiest spot on campus, hosting concerts, rallies and sunbathing. Since NU needs a little help in the social category, an open gathering space would help the more awkward students (read: every single person, author included) get out and meet people. Or at least offer a good place to get your tan on.
2. Taking advantage of the Web – University of Illinois
Click onto NU’s webpage, and you get a site about as exciting as Geocities circa 1998. Plenty of purple, but nothing too interesting. The University of Illinois’ website doesn’t look any fancier at first glance, but start digging and you’ll find one of the coolest college websites around. The front page has a nice, simple design, but start clicking some hyperlinks and you’ll find the real virtual gold. All major points of interest for students can be found on the front page, including access to e-mail (something the NU site sorely lacks). The coolest parts of the site exploit new media. You can hook yourself up with a U of I RSS feed, or browse student blogs and podcasts. The Illini site is the Web’s Prius to NU’s Edsel. This shouldn’t come as a shock. Illinois bred both the inventor of Netscape (remember that?) and two of the three inventors of YouTube.
1. Articles equal pride – THE Ohio State University
Nobody goes to Ohio State University. They go to THE Ohio State University. Every time they emphasize that lone article, I want to give them an old fashioned punch to the kidneys. Even OSU’s ads trumpet the “THE,” making me want to pull an Elvis and shoot up my TV. The moniker is so annoying and such an arrogant statement that most people either love it or hate it.
And it’s the best aspect of Ohio State. People treat the school not as a university, but as a nation, something to unite behind and be proud of. The Buckeye football team helps a lot, but the school itself also conjures up feelings of collectiveness and pride. “The” implies exclusivity, that there is only one or that it’s the authentic one. Ohio State has developed a sense of pride so strong, students and alumni feel they didn’t go to a college, but an institution that goes beyond education.
Northwestern needs that sense of pride. I’m not talking about more passionate football fans or people wearing purple sweatshirts everyday of their life. Those serve to offer immediate gratitude. NU needs pride stretching beyond Saturday afternoons, a feeling lasting a lifetime. Being a Buckeye is like being in the most awesome club in the world, creating a special feeling that sets THE Ohio State apart from other universities. Simply slapping an article in front of Northwestern’s name won’t turn people into Wildcat fanatics for life, but the school should work to make people truly proud to have graduated from NU. Plus, maybe they’ll donate more money so we can build a bowling alley.