August 2011


This is Indiana

One thing that I do now, more than I did in the past, is think about the messages that what t-shirts I wear, say. Consequently, I’m buying fewer random t-shirts and wishing I had more of some messages.

For example, at the gym I wear duds for the Wyoming Cowboys (I wish I had more) and the Celtic (I so want to buy their 2011-12 International jersey). I like the Wyoming stuff because it promotes something remote and distant from the wilds of Berlin – and, because, if somebody from Wyoming is wandering around, I want them to be able to identify me as somebody worth talking to. The Celtic stuff – well, lets just say that if I were to support a football soccer team, Celtic and FC St. Pauli are the only two that I’d ever consider supporting.

Which leaves me odd emotions about Indiana.

You see, although I am extremely fond of Bloomington and of Indiana University, I can’t say that I really want to wear anything crimson and cream.

I’m so much more of a brown and gold kind of guy – or green and white or brown – than crimson and cream.

As I noted yesterday, this is the first week of classes, and Tuesday I read the IDS and saw reference to a video called “This is Indiana” – and seeing the video suddenly explained a t-shirt that I’ve been seeing all over campus.

Honestly, this is a very well done video homage to Indiana University and its basketball tradition—with excellent allusions to the past, including a chair being tossed across the floor.

It’s good enough that it sort of makes me weepy, and check out the t-shirt site – but I’m not sure I would ever wear it in Berlin. So I’m not buying.

I come away with at least two points:

First, German universities lack any mechanisms that create this kind of emotional bond between university and student or university and alumni. Even as I find it incredibly distasteful that university presidents and university alumni associations specifically tell graduating seniors to remember the university and to frequently send the university money, ultimately one huge competitive advantage that American universities have over most global competitors is this emotional bonding and the subsequent alumni network.

Secondly, one point made in this video is that Indiana University is better, although the lyrics are, uh, perhaps unnecessarily crude:

Unlike you other schools, we got history
Kinda like your girl does when she visits uh, me
Oh my I can’t see because the trophy case be shining
And my optometrist told me not to look
Cause I could go blind, even better I could taste it
Follow Tom Crean, he gon’ take us back to greatness
Face it, embrace it like it’s 76
Them little Wolverines probably gonna hate this

Ignoring the really awful line about “your girl” (really, was that the only line that they could come up with?), the song evokes the essence that IU is a great school – and there’s even a comment on the YouTube page that, “i based where i was going to college of this video…..im going to iu =)” (directly copied, no corrections made).

But here’s the thing: IU is an amazing university, but for the average undergraduate, it’s probably not the best choice. An unmotivated undergraduate at Indiana University is, and will be, a number in a large classroom.

When I was a freshman at the University of Wyoming, I could make serious, long-lasting, connections with professors, and the professors were teaching freshmen level classes. My impression of Indiana University is that unmotivated students could, very well, not make a connection with a professor until at least their second, if not third, year of college.

That’s not to say a motivated student couldn’t – Indiana University professors are available, but not that many freshmen here have the chutzpah to knock on professor’s doors, introduce themselves, and ask how they could improve their undergraduate educational experience.

2 comments to This is Indiana

  • Daniel Weber

    Hey…. stumbled across this article tonight. I appreciate the kind words and great blog/opinion piece. Crazy that we reached Berlin! Thanks again… take care, and go hoosiers 🙂