May 19, 2012

Euphemisms don't translate well

The parents of two USC students from China who were murdered sitting in their BMW have sued:
Their parents filed a lawsuit recently accusing the university of misrepresenting safety at the campus, where nearly one-fifth of the 38,000 students are from overseas, including 2,500 from China. ...
In the lawsuit, the victims’ parents said the university made false claims about safety in a section of its online application. 
The 15-page lawsuit accuses the institution of hiding behind the word “urban” and not saying the campus is in a high-crime area. It also notes that Chinese students in particular would interpret “urban” to mean the university is in a safe area.

Which colleges are urban and in low crime areas? Kids these days like urban, with good public transportation (in part because drunk driving is punished much more harshly than a generation ago). NYU in Greenwich Village. Harvard, I imagine. Georgetown? Some of the lesser Chicago colleges in the Loop. Depaul is in the heart of Chicago's North Side yuppieville. The U. of Washington in Seattle? But it doesn't seem like that long of a list, unfortunately. Rice and UCLA, where I went, are nicely located in pleasant inner suburbs, but the areas don't really have the pre-Modernist big city feel that the new generation wants. Westwood was the place to go in 1982, but it's sedate today.

The reason why urban and low crime don't go together for most colleges is something like this: the most prestigious colleges are old, rich, and have fancy campuses. But they all had to have their own cohesive, master-planned campuses, unlike European colleges, which tend to be scattered sites within a city. So, prestigious old American colleges are seldom located right downtown in the well-policed skyscraper districts, they are typically a few miles away, where they could obtain a big chunk of acreage a century or so ago for their campus. But the neighborhood is now a moldering inner city. USC is three miles south of downtown L.A. and the U. of Chicago is five miles south of the Loop.

NYU, the exception to this rule, gave up its West Bronx campus in 1973 for a hodgepodge of buildings around Washington Square Park in lower Manhattan, which almost wrecked the college at first, but now is a boon when crime is down 75% in New York.

104 comments:

Anonymous said...

It also notes that Chinese students in particular would interpret “urban” to mean the university is in a safe area.

Based on the news you read from time to time, rural China is where the devastating flash floods, famines, and the like seem to hit. Perhaps that's why urban areas are considered relatively safe redoubts or something.

Maya said...

Some universities get so huge that they can contend with the ghetto surrounding. The campus police starts to veer of campus when patrolling, the surrounding patches begin to gentrify a bit with all the professors, adjuncts and so on coming to live near by, the surrounding businesses thrive from the sheer bulk of the student body, grow and hire security, ect.. I went to the largest university in the country which is in an urban setting, a couple of miles from down town. It's true that we had certain street crossings within walking distance of campus where you were guaranteed to get mugged after 10pm, but the only reason to go there was to score drugs anyway... or to rent a very cheap apartment.

Anonymous said...

Although, morally, the parents of the murder victims are justified in their demand for compensation, I doubt they'll get any.
Yes, the university misrepresented itself and misled prospective students in under-playing neighborhood criminality and boosting the effectiveness of its own security team. But the cinching point is this - all signs mislead from 'painless dentistry' downwards. The onus is on the prospective purchaser to do their own reseach.

Jim O'Sullivan said...

"and and"

Overemphasis

Anonymous said...

Steve,
if you are saying that what students really want is an urban feel with great public transportation, then in my humble experience Boston University offers more of that than USC.

Boston U has great rail access, and the rail system in Boston has far fewer violent and feral "youths" than the equivalent system in Seattle or in Atlanta or in Los Angeles.

Anonymous said...

You have frequently discussed Matt yglesias' tract in favor of high density housing "The Rent is too Damn High"

It seems to me that one benefit of high density housing is that it makes it much more practical and cost effective to have high security.

I spend a fair ammt of time at USC. The administration did a great job building a wall around the campus with very high security.

As such I think the campus itself is exceptionally safe

the problem is that grad students tend to live off campus and subject themselves to the terrible crime of the surrounding neighborhood.

It seems to me that the solution is very simple - build a few high rises similar to what you see on the Wilshire corridor in Westwood - 50 story high buildings - build these INSIDE the walls, so that the students that live in them are 100% safe. If the University would only build enough attractive housing and restaurants and bars INSIDE the campus walls, then students would not venture outside the campus walls and they would be safe. This method would probably dramatically increase the prestige of USC an attract even more students, and it would help USC avoid the humiliation that comes from having students murdered. Seems like a win win

Can anyone with more knowledge than me explain why USC hasn't implemented my plan yet ?

Anonymous said...

I don't know about China in particular, but in India it's the rural areas that are in particular prone to road banditry in between the cities and mob justice/lynchings in the small villages. There's a certain sense of wild lawlessness in much of the country. Maybe in the third world they associate "urban" with "civilization" and perhaps "low crime".

Anonymous said...

UW student here- they bus themselves in for a good time with the students here, so every week there's some burglary, robbery, or blighting thuggery of one kind or another. The "Ave" as it's called is pretty ratty too, though during the day it's fine. SCCC is where the Occupiers festered awhile, and it's not too safe either, Capitol Hill in general is losing the gentrifying battle. I think Americans have much too low expectations of what a 'crime-free' area should be like. It's like, um, a soft bigotry of low expectations, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

University of Washington used to be pretty safe, but there's been a small spike in crime in the last few years. Occasionally vagrants, drug addicts, or homeless men rob or assault students. Though I would guess by the standards of the typical big city, it's still nothing too bad.

While people who look like Obama's son tend to be highly overrepresented among the perpetrators, a fair number are white guys too.

Anonymous said...

"Kids these days like urban"

They like urban, but they don't like ghetto. Students aren't eager to get into Wayne State in Detroit, for example. And the ghetto locations of U of Chicago and even Yale does turn off a lot of prospective students; the ones with options often turn them down because of location.

Kids like NYU, which is in a safe, yuppie playground.

Anonymous said...

In China, you typically need a residence permit to live in a city. The government tends to award permits to entreprenuers, bureaucrats, and professionals. Peasants and workers are usually housed outside the cities. There's also been a policy of demolishing urban slums and sending the resident out.

So, yes, urban does mean "safe" in China.

Anonymous said...

Could the chinese inadvertantly derail the "fair" housing act with this? Similar situation there.

Anonymous said...

"Investigators believe that the killings were part of a larger string of crimes"

I'll say. About 50 years' worth, in fact.

RKU said...

I'd really say Harvard's much more suburban than urban. So perhaps NYU is just about the only one on the list...

eah said...

Simple question Mr Sailer: if a college was located in the 'urban setting' of, say, Portland, Oregon, would you expect it to be more or less safe when compared to USC?

Anonymous said...

Surely Apple or some innovative high-tech company can come up with with a system whereby vibrant urban youth could be implanted with a small chip that would trigger an i-phone alarm whenever such got within 30 feet. Such an app would help foreign students, until they eventually learned the true situation.

Anonymous said...

Maybe in the third world they associate "urban" with "civilization" and perhaps "low crime".

"Civilization" is populations living in cities.

DYork said...

Pepperdine.

I wouldn't mind reliving my life as an 18-22 year old in Malibu.

Anonymous said...

John Hopkins University Medical School! Now, THAT is urban. Oh-ho-ho, it is sooo urban! So urban that the university provides transportation and security to its staff and students.

Peter said...

Even if USC misrepresented campus crime statistics I doubt this lawsuit will succeed, as the shootings occurred a mile away from campus.


And the ghetto locations of U of Chicago and even Yale does turn off a lot of prospective students

Some of the areas closest to the Yale campus are a bit run down but really can't be termed ghettos. The actual, hard-core ghettos are far enough from campus not to pose a threat, though it helps that Yale maintains a very high security level.

Doug1 said...

Good for this lawsuit.

I hope it wins. I think it’s got a decent chance. Not based on negligent private policing, but based on false claims of how relatively safe the campus is. They were enormously and provably false.

Surprises me that it’s Chinese in China parents that have brought the first lawsuit of this type that I at least have ever heard of, but whatever. It’s probably the result of some LA lawyers, maybe Chinese ones, calling up the parents in China.

As for safe urban Universities, I think Columbia is these days fairly safe, in addition to NYU. It wasn’t in the 70s and 80s but has become so pretty much I think. It’s on the border of Harlem on the west side, but not actually in it – Columbia has gentrified its neighborhood. Of course any students stupid enough to get off campus housing north of Columbia are well, stupid. But I think few do, unless from there. And Harvard yes. Yale is in a dangerous city but you don’t hear much about Yale students getting murdered and raped by New Haven blacks. However it’s not a city worth being in. Profitless urban.

Personally I don’t see much advantage to going to an urban undergraduate university, esp. if it’s at least medium sized. I went to Stanford which was next to the suburban small city by the time I went there Palo Alto, but only about 45min in light traffic by car from the heart of San Francisco and an hour from Berkeley. Rather ideal. Oh and 20 min to the pacific ocean, 15 min to the pacific bucolic foothills nearby partly owned by Stanford, hour and a half to the foothills of the high Sierra, and about 2.5 hours in decent traffic and road snow conditions to the high Sierra long season skiing in winter and rock climbing and mountaineering in summer playground. By far most of the socializing, partying and culture that students want in a medium or large sized uni is provided by the Uni and it’s students or culture attracted there. It’s good to have a culturally interesting city within easy distance for such stuff as the occasional trip to opera, ballet and plays if so inclined, or strip clubs and seedy bars maybe, but compared to on and off campus stuff with other students, small potatoes. All decent sized unis have classic and independent and foreign film showings, there are usually pretty good music clubs around them, and so on.

Harry Baldwin said...

. . . ghetto locations of U of Chicago and even Yale does turn off a lot of prospective students; the ones with options often turn them down because of location.

The area of New Haven around Yale was very run-down and depressing in the 1970s and 1980s, but has been gentrified so much since the 1990s that it is now considered fun and appealing, with good restaurants, theater, clubs and shopping. About a half mile from the campus you can get into some dicey areas, though. Last year New Haven had the highest murder rate in CT, out-distancing Bridgeport. It involves the usual suspects and few others.

Doug1 said...

eah--

I'm not Steve Sailer, but more safe of course.

We're talking about NAMs, particularly the black variety, here. Obviously.

Anonymous said...

Many of those prestigious universities were built in parts of cities where they were low-crime areas and when most people in the community were white. But as whites moved out, blacks moved in. The problem is it's hard to move an entire university out, and so the university ends up being stuck in or close to Negroville. Many parts of LA and Chicago which today are mostly non-white were once mostly white.

Anonymous said...

Boston University is pretty "urban". It's hideously ugly, with the Mass Turnpike bisecting it and Storrow drive between it and the Bay, and a concentration of muffler repair shops on the part of Commonwealth ave it runs along, but it is urban.

The University of Toronto main campus is very urban, right in downtown Toronto, which is safe.

Anonymous said...

BTW NYU is considered a VERY BAD neighbor in the Village- pulling down historic buildings, get around zoning, etc.

Anonymous said...

Portland is one of the racially least diverse big cities in America. So I'd say that probably makes it less safe... what with all these Zimmeran type neighborhood vigilantes running around shooting people who look like Obama's son.

Anonymous said...

UW isn't that unsafe, but there are a lot of homeless around the place.

UW student, when did you graduate?

Anonymous said...

Urban... Youth... How many more code words we going to create?

Anonymous said...

Boston college and university check list:

Harvard-RKU, Harvard Yard is about 1.5 miles from Boston City Hall as the crow flies. MIT is even closer. Both are across the Charles from downtown, and are buffered by the Back Bay and Beacon Hill (home to Lurch Kerry and the Ketchup Heiress), two of Boston's tonier districts. Incident a few years ago, though, where one of the AA students from NYC gave her drug dealer boyfriend and his accomplices her security card to get into her dorm (Kirkland House, Zuckerburg's residence at Harvard), where they proceeded to rob and shoot a supplier down in the basement. MIT has had a problem with suicides and Asian students going haywire. Still, not really "urban".

Boston University-nestled in between the Boston side of the Charles and Brookline, another upmarket area. The Comm Ave. corridor that defines it running into the student ghettos of Allston and Brighton is historically the rape capital of Boston; I was a school-hired escort for coeds from the library/student union complex to the West Campus dorms back in the day. Green Line trains run down the middle of Comm Ave. from downtown to the terminus at Boston College. Middling "urban".

Northeastern University-kind of like BU in that it follows a corridor, this on Huntington Ave. Bordered on one side by the downscale part of the Back Bay and on the other by the Mission Hill/Jamaica Plain ratholes. Another branch of the Green Line runs down the middle of Huntington. Definitely "urban".

Boston College-the suburban urban school. Located in "Chestnut Hill", an affectation meaning "not Boston", though the school has buildings in Boston and Newton, an other upscale suburb. Not at all "urban", less so than Harvard and MIT.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing Maya went to Ohio State University. O-H...I-O

Doug1 said...

Steve--

I love your insight and analysis, and you're one of the major stars of this sphere, but I hate your comment mechanism.

It inhibits community discussion to the point of their being almost none. Partly because you only approve comments slowly, which I understand. YOu're researching and creating content and have a family and other life.

However, why can't you tag regular commenters who haven't been spamers or trolls, and haven't posted truly outrageous comments, with a go through without moderation code, subject to comment deletion and recategorization as requiring pre screening???

Would greatly increase community discussion around here over time. Cultures do take a while to change though.

I really hope you answer this in comments here, even if you turn it down. Maybe there are reasons to do so I haven't thought of.

Anonymous said...

Hahahaha. NAACP now for 'gay marriage'. Money talks and Negroes follow. Gays got more money.

Anonymous said...

Hey, if libs are pushing 'gay marriage', shouldn't cons push 'plural or poly marriage'?

Anonymous said...

OT:

The "random" shopper stabbed in a Target:

First link mentions where she works and that she's a lawyer:
http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Target-Shopper-Stabbed-Inside-Store-152115575.html

Googled info:
http://www.fr.com/martha-d-jones/

Steve Sailer said...

Pepperdine used to be in South Central, like USC. I bet USC leaders sometimes sit around and wonder whether they should have bought that unbelievable property in Malibu before Pepperdine did.

Anonymous said...

OT, but Naomi Riley and her husband Jason were guests on John Stossel's show (FoxNews) today.

She's not backing down and she stressed her position that ethnic studies programs do not meet the standards of an academic discipline (because they begin from a premise, then seek only to prove that premise).

This is quite refreshing to see someone close to academia criticizing academia (and not about to shut up, either)and I think it marks a new phase we've entered.

I'd imagine the video will be up on FoxNews' website under Stossel.

eah said...

@Doug1

Thanks.

Since Mr Sailer did not mention Blacks, perhaps he's auditioning as an editorial writer for the Baltimore Sun.

Anonymous said...

" NAACP now for 'gay marriage'. Money talks and Negroes follow. Gays got more money."

This will be a very uneasy alliance and should Obama lose, it will be down the tubes in a NY minute.

Anonymous said...

Harvard may not be 'urban' by Manhattan standards, but in terms of density, transit, street traffic, etc., it's got to be in the 99th percentile of American cities.

Interesting contrast is between Princeton and Yale. Both are smack in the center of colonial townships. But New Haven (Yale) developed industry in the 20th century, so it's now saddled with an "urban" underclass and all that entails.

At Yale, after an undergrad was vibrantly stabbed in 1991, the university devoted the next decades to doing as much as it possibly could to make the city less of a hellhole, since the university's status was at stake:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Christian_Prince

Meanwhile, Princeton, N.J., never became a manufacturing town, hence today it's a bucolic, pricey upscale community.

Thomas O. Meehan said...

We've come full circle. At their founding students terrorized the city populous. Now, the students are terrorized by the city populous.

Of course if the students make any attempt to defend themselves they will be suppressed by all those forces of law that failed to deter their attackers.

Jack said...

"This will be a very uneasy alliance and should Obama lose, it will be down the tubes in a NY minute."

Gays and blacks in a public feud would make my day.

SFG said...

"if you are saying that what students really want is an urban feel with great public transportation, then in my humble experience Boston University offers more of that than USC. "


Ever been through a New England winter?

More seriously, these Chinese kids probably wanted to go to a school with a big Chinese population.

Eh, whatever. Cao ni ma le go bi.

Steve Sailer said...

"BTW NYU is considered a VERY BAD neighbor in the Village"

NYU is the rare famous and semi-rich university that is not as famous and rich as its town. Yale is more famous than New Haven and Duke is the only thing in Durham, but New York University benefits more from having "New York" in its name than New York City benefits from NYU. (Not that there's anything wrong with NYU ...) The president of NYU is making huge efforts to leverage the brand name, especially East of Suez.

Anonymous said...

Beware well-funded, large social work programs. I spent some time in a Midwestern College town, which shall remain nameless, one of the big 10. There were panhandlers mixing with the hippie kids with an affectation for "real" people everywhere.

It was crazy for a small city of that size. It wasn't Berkeley bad, but near it. The beggars were aggressive to, I mean they'd yell at you, oblivious to the fact that they were begging 10 yards from an alcohol store. "Hey man, is that how it is?" was the favorite refrain.

I've been in Northeastern cities, and in DC, even overseas in some rough spots, and I never saw beggars, who weren't Somalis, so surly. The funniest part of the experience was to be out at night in the party of town with the bars and listen to drunk frat boys scream back at the panhandlers.

I asked some friends, hey what gives? Sure enough, the uni had a large social work program, which drew in the vagabonds and probably encouraged them in their impudence.

Anonymous said...

Who bought them the Beemer? I blame the car.

anony-mouse said...

Er,

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Cities_by_crime_rate

Interestingly Tulsa seems to have a rather high crime rate. Much higher than heavily Hispanic El Paso, or heavily Black Mobile.

John Doe said...

Johns Hopkins undergraduate campus is also quite urban. Here is my favorite story illustrating the relationship of Hopkins students with the surrounding community.

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/01/johns_hopkins_student_from_nj_1.html

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/09/johns_hopkins_student_from_nj.html

Anonymous said...

I went to U. Witwatersrand and lived in Hillbrow (google it).

I win.

Maya said...

"Beware well-funded, large social work programs. I spent some time in a Midwestern College town, which shall remain nameless, one of the big 10. There were panhandlers mixing with the hippie kids with an affectation for "real" people everywhere. "

When I went to college, we had amnesty international set up tents on the central campus square, in front of the library, where student activists were going to live to promote awareness of the misplaced people of Palestine. For a month, we'd walk by those tents and see clothing drying on a line, little fires going at night in some tin cans and smelling cigarettes and weed. Then, it turned out that the amnesty international kids occupied those tents for only one weekend, and the people living there the rest of the time were just some homeless bums. I later saw some of them by the piercing parlor, offering to pierce girls' belly buttons for half the price. They were willing to barter too.

Anonymous said...

Surprised that Carnegie Mellon and U. Pitt. didn't make the urban and safe list.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of universities, was Facebook investor Eduardo Saverin admitted to Harvard as an affirmative action student (Hispanic)?

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:51 I wouldn't call Jamaica Plain a rathole. The central areas have been hip and gentrifying for decades now, and that's spreading even through Hyde Sq toward Jackson Sq now.

Doug1: You must've been driving like a bat out of hell to make it to the Sierra/Tahoe ski areas in 2.5 hours. It's 185 miles from Berkeley to Truckee, maybe slightly less to South Lake Tahoe, to which you add 40 miles from Palo Alto.

Anonymous said...

"Urban... Youth... How many more code words we going to create?"
------------------------------------
Ah, just one more:

"white."

Anonymous said...

"UW student- when did you graduate?"

I didn't, not yet...
It's relatively safe here, I just feel the standard for 'relatively safe' is much lower than I'd like it to be. We tolerate too much. I'm pro-intolerance.

Silver said...

They were willing to barter too.

What were they willing to take in exchange?

Anonymous said...

NYU may be a bad neighbor but it's also, supposedly, the largest single property owner on Manhattan.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing cities in China are much more advanced then rural areas are. Probably homogeneous too.

I know its off-topic but why do we pursue foreign students? They take spots away from students here.

Mr. Anon said...

"Urban" is a funny euphemism. You can have two universities in the same city - one a regular university and the other an HBCU, and yet the HBCU is reffered to as "urban", while the other is not. It's almost as funny as when people refer to the population of some African country as "African Americans".

Maya said...

"I know its off-topic but why do we pursue foreign students? They take spots away from students here."

I think they usually pay full tuition.

Anonymous said...

@anon 450pm,

Jamaica Plain has a growing gay community, correct? Now there are some rough homosexual subcultures, but concerning the professional types, in public, at least, they indicate a community is becoming less culturally vibrant, i.e. safer. Ethnic diversity and non-heterosexual lifestyle diversity don't mix well. In this battle, one side has simple violence, the other has the power of the dollar, i.e. tacit structural violence.

When I see two well-dressed guys carrying on in an affectionate, but subdued way, I know I'm in a neighborhood where I won't get mugged.

Anonymous said...

Actually Maya, and I say this because an ex benefited from it, academics love giving money at foreigners. I think it is sometimes practical, Asians and Slavs are often better at math and languages than their contemporaries.

But, and this will make Whiskey's day, Upper Middle Class Suburban people will give a foreigner more leeway and empathy than an American. I know this as I worked summers as an undergrad auditor at a resort with a large foreign wait staff.

This isn't just impression, this is statistical, I know the numbers, I had to crunch 'em every night. The Slavic kids got tipped better, even by the English, who are the worst tippers in the world!

And I'd usually be in a place where I could observe the floor and watch everybody waiting tables, and give refunds for bad service, etc.

I can therefore say the foreign kids weren't better waiters. In some cases they were almost, but not quite, as surly a waiter as what you get in Russia. I've been there, so I'm not stereotyping. But the kids weren't dumb, they smile at campy Suburban types asking them about their homes. The same campy types of course, never thinking to ask all the Lindsays and Katies we had working about their backgrounds.

I saw one guy give a tip back it was so small. The tipper was English, of course, and left change. It made my year to see Gleb grab his hand stuff the change in it and storm off, even though I had to deal with the Brit afterwards, comp him on some stuff.

Everybody noticed it, the American wait staff were really peeved about the unfairness, and this is not anti-Slavic bigotry. Some of those American kids had grandparents born in Poland or the Ukraine. And these American kids weren't trashy, just normal college kids.

Americans love to hate other Americans, they do it all the time, and in bipartisan fashion and across class lines. Think about the rhetoric surrounding our wars, often about those deserving Afghans and Iraqis, who are contrasted with "spoiled" Americans. There are a large number of future Archie Bunkers who already spout that sort of crap. It makes me sick.

Maybe some folks on the non-mainstream right are correct, maybe we are so big and internally diverse we really have no sense of group empathy. I've been in 3rd world situations where people will trash each other to you, but that's more about getting advantage, it isn't this hatred of one's fellow countrymen I see in so many Americans.

bostonfellow said...

"Northeastern University-kind of like BU in that it follows a corridor, this on Huntington Ave. Bordered on one side by the downscale part of the Back Bay and on the other by the Mission Hill/Jamaica Plain ratholes. Another branch of the Green Line runs down the middle of Huntington. Definitely "urban"."

I agree with most of anonymous on Northeastern. I sometimes take the other branch of the Green Line down Huntington Ave. to get to my workplace in Longwood. It is safe during the day however at night I'd be weary. I had a colleague (Korean female) who was assaulted at the Longwood Medical stop by "young sons of Obama." Plus Northeastern a while back was considered one of the most dangerous college campuses in the Boston area.

Anonymous said...

"I've been in 3rd world situations where people will trash each other to you, but that's more about getting advantage, it isn't this hatred of one's fellow countrymen I see in so many Americans." - We trash each other to each other to posture within our own status market so it is slightly different from the 3rd world situation. Obviously this is insane and will have to end.

Maya said...

"Actually Maya, and I say this because an ex benefited from it, academics love giving money at foreigners. I think it is sometimes practical, Asians and Slavs are often better at math and languages than their contemporaries.

But, and this will make Whiskey's day, Upper Middle Class Suburban people will give a foreigner more leeway and empathy than an American. I know this as I worked summers as an undergrad auditor at a resort with a large foreign wait staff..."

Really? Are you sure your ex wasn't foreign born American or, at least, a permanent resident? If not, then I have no idea why American universities give so many spots to honest to god foreign students. I was sure it was for financial reasons.

I know what you mean about American middle class going out of their way to be super sweet to a foreign kid. It always made me feel uncomfortable. I have a strong accent for someone who immigrated as young as I did, and I've had a lot of jobs in the service industry, including resorts. Customers were always very eager to show interest in "my culture", and they were always so visibly disappointed in my answers about what I consider to be my home town, what my favorite food/band/book is and which lifestyle/set of cultural norms I prefer that I sometimes felt compelled to lie just to keep them happy. I especially hate it when people tell me how much America sucks, and how much more interesting, cultured and full of wisdom other nations are, expecting me to agree just because I sound foreign or in an obvious attempt to gain my favor. You met a guy named Gleb? Hahahahaha! That's like meeting an American guy named Jebedaia.

Anonymous said...

@anon 805

Even in the 3rd world it is sometimes posturing within the status market, that's kind of a main theme in Orwell's Burmese Days. But you are right, 3rd-worlders are operating on more pragmatic economic concerns.

I thought at the time that concurrently with the need to prove one's moral status by being generous to the "other" there was a tacit, snobbish dismissal of any American waiting tables; shouldn't they be interning at a think tank?

These are the sorts of folks who think Hispanics do jobs that white people do not, or (from a place they don't talk about) shouldn't do.

While I'm dropping stories, the funniest one was dealing with folks asking about Mass times. Since they were often drinking on Saturday night, they'd not want to wake up for the local English language mass which was early, 9 or 10, as I recall. I'd suggest the Spanish language mass at 11 just for kicks. The uncomfortable looks on people's faces and the noises they made were priceless. And btw, this resort served people from the greater DC area, and yeah, as I overhead their conversations in the restaurant, I knew their "official" politics.

Work in guest service, restaurants or hotels, for long enough and you realize a lot of the Centrist Upper Middle Class orthodoxy around immigration is b.s. The problem is apparently nobody in the chattering classes every worked in the restaurant or hotel industry.

If my previous response sounded like an anti-foreign screed, possibly because of anger at an ex, it wasn't meant to be so.

Far from it, lovely, intelligent, accomplished girl, and I wish her well. Her accomplishments were an important factor, but she was cognizant that she was also getting funding because she was foreign. We didn't have Mr. Sailer's concept of the educated Black person as luxury item, but it was analogous.

Jerry said...

I second this comment enthusiastically... Or how about no moderation for people who've donated and who have a good track record?

However, why can't you tag regular commenters who haven't been spamers or trolls, and haven't posted truly outrageous comments, with a go through without moderation code, subject to comment deletion and recategorization as requiring pre screening???

Would greatly increase community discussion around here over time. Cultures do take a while to change though.

Anonymous said...

NYU may be a bad neighbor but it's also, supposedly, the largest single property owner on Manhattan.

Nowhere near. Nos. 1 through 4 are (in order): the City Government, the Federal Government, the State Government, the Catholic Church. I'd expect Silverstein comes way above NYU further down the list.

ben tillman said...

Which colleges are urban and in low crime areas?

Brown.

SMU. Though less urban, it's 3 miles from downtown in one of the 5 biggest cities in the US.

If RKU and others think NYU qualifies, then I guess so does Yeshiva, which is like a block up Fifth, and Parsons, which is a few blocks further north.

Anonymous said...

I go through Harvard Square quite frequently; the neighborhood around Harvard is interesting- it is a super-SWPL neighborhood with swanky shops and ridiculous restaurants, but it is also absolutely loaded with vagrants, bums, and winos (not to mention a few able-bodied and clear-headed young layabouts). Perhaps this means that the neighborhood would be a total skid row if not for the presence of the university, but I suspect the real explanation is that the lefty politics inculcated by the academic community make the Cambridge authorities super-lenient about vagrancy.

I should also note that all of the bums I have met in Harvard Square have seemed totally harmless, and some of them are quite pleasant. Of course, I am a broad-shouldered 6-footer, so I don't expect to be accosted in any case. Still, with all of those Harvard students around, I expect the cops will deal very, very swiftly with anyone who appears dangerous, lefty politics or not (thank goodness for liberal hypocrisy). Of course, this swiftness can backfire on them when the person acting erratically turns out to be a Harvard professor, as Officer Crowley discovered in 2009...

Anonymous said...

Last year, the urban rate in China crossed to 51%, so I would think it has lost special connotations.

Anonymous said...

I went to a college here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIC1Egj_w4k

Big bill said...

Meehan: it's "populace", not "populous".

Big bill said...

"the 'random' shopper shot at Target":

For police, "random" means "there is no connection between the attacker and the victim and therefore no need to suspect the ex-wife, girlfriend, angry business partner and the traditional 'close' sources of murderers." It does not mean "the murderer randomly selected the victim."

Anonymous said...

Columbia is pretty safe now. Even in the 70s and 80s, when I was going to school there, it was nowhere near as dangerous as Harlem, which is right next door. If you look at it on a map, Morningside Park, which separates Columbia from Harlem, is just a thin strip, but it's very steep, and apparently black people don't like walking uphill.

I'm sure there was more involved than that though. Columbia has always understood the importance of isolating itself from Harlem, and for the most part it has been reasonably successful.

Big bill said...

"I went to U. Witwatersrand and lived in Hillbrow (google it). I win."

Holy smokes. I didn't realize that they let white folks attend Wits anymore. And Hillbrow? Wow. America in 50 years.

Matthew said...

Simple argument for the USC defense: they've managed to grasp our litigious culture easily enough, how can they not grasp our Orwellian lingo.

Does anyone in China sue over stuff like this? Not likely. They had to understand American culture to do that.

Matthew said...

"I think they usually pay full tuition."

One common immigration proposal, especially by the Wall Street Urinal and Mitt Romney, is to 'staple a green card to the diploma of every foreign student graduating from a US university with a degree in science or technology.'

Watch as tuition skyrockets even further when Congress manages to enact this. Pretty soon would-be American college students won't be able to afford a college education in their own country.

Oh wait - they already can't.

kaganovitch said...

"If RKU and others think NYU qualifies, then I guess so does Yeshiva, which is like a block up Fifth, and Parsons, which is a few blocks further north."

Nah, that's just a small off shoot couple of buildings (cardozo law school etc.) the main campus is uptown in a very vibrant washington heights neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Nowhere near. Nos. 1 through 4 are (in order): the City Government, the Federal Government, the State Government, the Catholic Churc
nope, Episcopal church, trinity in particular - they originally were granted 1/3 of manhattan by queen anne, the annual back rent of one peppercorn was given to the queen when she visited in 1976.

Anonymous said...

NYU may be a bad neighbor but it's also, supposedly, the largest single property owner on Manhattan.
not the largest (see above) but they are very nasty and aggresive and callous towards the rest of the village, pulled down many historic buildings, including one of the few remaining places were edgar allen poe lived.
they destroyed an historic romanian catholic church and build skyscraper dorms, - which they lied about in community board meetings -the list goes on.. and columbia got the city (not hard with bloomberg who is one of the most destructive mayors ever) to pull eminent domain so they could expand, kicking out many businesses and property owners.

Anonymous said...

get off campus housing north of Columbia are well, stupid.
not so much anymore much of Harlem is safe as is north.

691 said...

Georgia Tech is very much downtown Atlanta

Anonymous said...

For Anon 4:50, just so all you non-Bostonians are clear, Jamaica Spain (as some of the locals call it) is gentrifying, buy not for "decades", and you'd still better habla. The "gays" are mostly lesbians who hung out at the old Milky Way. The only difference between gentrifying JP and the much more gentrified (and extremely gay) South End is your mugger will be Trayvon in the South End and Carlos in JP.

Bostonfellow, I hope you're out of Longwood before dark! The death knell to me was when that CVS clerk got stabbed to death. I worried more about my girlfriend when she worked at Beth Israel than I do now that she's at Boston Medical Center, and that's on the outskirts of the 'Bury.

Bottom line is you're WAY more likely to get mugged at NU or Wentworth than at BU or Harvard.

paul rise said...

I think University of Texas - Austin is probably the most urban/safest university in the nation.

jody said...

"However, why can't you tag regular commenters who haven't been spamers or trolls, and haven't posted truly outrageous comments, with a go through without moderation code, subject to comment deletion and recategorization as requiring pre screening?"

i've been posting here longer than anybody and steve still blocks my comments once in a while. this is steve's show. he gets to run it however he wants. and that's how it should be.

jody said...

"Surprised that Carnegie Mellon and U. Pitt. didn't make the urban and safe list."

probably because CMU and university of pittsburgh aren't completely safe. yeah, they're safer than USC or johns hopkins (i felt pretty unsafe the last time i went to the los angeles coliseum and baltimore is straight up ghetto), but the pittsburgh campus is kept under heavy police presence to keep the crime rate down. it's not as dangerous as university of cincinnati or cleveland state, but a place like ohio state is in the middle of columbus and safer than the pittsburgh campus. so a buckeye like maya can drive her car pretty much anywhere and jam "come on sloopy" and feel ok about it.

princeton is ok. it's just dreary. columbia is in NYC which is, as everybody has said, much safer now due to (extreme perhaps) police presence.

two which people have not talked about are notre dame and penn. notre dame is in south bend, which is a total ghetto now. penn is in philadelphia. need i say more. seems like most of the centuries old great universities of the united states are somehow located in run down areas today.

David said...

I went to NYU in the late '80s. Had no problems, never heard of any. Did see homeless blacks get loud and holler at passersby. If you didn't look in their eyes, you were okay. If you didn't look at the homeless druggies and alcoholics turning into corpses in WS park, you were okay. Once wound up in Bed-Stuy by making a subway mistake - came thisclose to being assaulted by a "youth" - leaped on the right train in time. Close one! But that was nowhere near campus.

Come to think of it, while I never heard of any problems, we students lived more or less in fear, knowing that something might happen unless we took all the precautions that we could and did take. (Like no eye contact, keep your wallet in your front pocket, never buy drugs from the numerous brothers in WS park, and never go out alone at night.)

Get Off My Lawn! said...

George Washington University has about as urban a campus as you can get - large, modern buildings on regular city streets, very little green space, surrounded by high-density neighborhoods with all the usual 21st century yuppie appurtenances - in a good and very expensive part of DC. The University of Pennsylvania, on the other hand:

Some universities get so huge that they can contend with the ghetto surrounding. The campus police starts to veer of campus when patrolling, the surrounding patches begin to gentrify a bit with all the professors, adjuncts and so on coming to live near by, the surrounding businesses thrive from the sheer bulk of the student body, grow and hire security, etc.

Yup. That describes University City (as they like to call the Penn-adjacent part of West Philadelphia) to a "T." There has been a lot of effort, mostly successful, to turn the immediate area into a yuppie/student ghetto instead of a black ghetto. Nevertheless, in three out of four compass directions, a short walk will put you in a bad neighborhood.

To the east, however, Penn is directly across the Schuylkill River from upscale Center City, and a lot of students, especially graduate and professional students, live there and walk (it's not a very wide river) or bike to campus.

University of Washington used to be pretty safe, but there's been a small spike in crime in the last few years. Occasionally vagrants, drug addicts, or homeless men rob or assault students. Though I would guess by the standards of the typical big city, it's still nothing too bad.

You're not just describing the University District, you're describing Seattle as whole. While I know it has some bad neighborhoods, Seattle remains a pretty nice place compared to most other big cities, especially the areas adjacent to UW. I wish there were a neighborhood like Ravenna near Penn.

It’s good to have a culturally interesting city within easy distance for such stuff as the occasional trip to opera, ballet and plays if so inclined, or strip clubs and seedy bars maybe, but compared to on and off campus stuff with other students, small potatoes.

I agree in theory, but in practice you're underestimating the fondness of modern SWPLs and SWPLs-in-training for urban settings. They regard living in a city as a good thing independent of any other qualities. For college students, it may be a matter of imitating the so-called adults who are a few years older but still live like college students, except that they work 12 hours a day. It's easier to live the life of a perennial adolescent in a city.

Get Off My Lawn! said...

hate your comment mechanism. It inhibits community discussion to the point of their being almost none.

I agree, but it's not Steve's comment mechanism. It's the nature of blog comment sections generally. They're not designed to facilitate discussion. That's what forums are for. I think it would be great if iSteve had discussion forums but suspect it would be far more work with no reward for Steve.

Upper Middle Class Suburban people will give a foreigner more leeway and empathy than an American.

Yes, and despite some of the comments here, I don't think it has anything to do with hating other Americans. Middle-class people are nicer to foreigners for two reasons: (1) Being tolerant of and interested in foreign things is correctly regarded as a sign of cultivation, worldliness, and broad education. Even people who have little tolerance and no interest are aware of this, and, if they have any pretensions to being upper middle class, will fake it. (2) Americans are famous for wanting other people to like them, and this is especially true among the middle classes. They want foreigners - especially Europeans and educated people from anywhere - to have a good opinion of the US in general and them in particular, so they try harder to be nice.

I don't think either of these factors is recent, nor are they unique to Americans. They don't seem like the worst traits a people could have, either.

Peter said...

two which people have not talked about are notre dame and penn. notre dame is in south bend, which is a total ghetto now

It looks as if the ND campus is pretty well isolated from the city itself.

ben tillman said...

Nah, that's just a small off shoot couple of buildings (cardozo law school etc.) the main campus is uptown in a very vibrant washington heights neighborhood.

Whoops - I visited a friend at the Cardozo library. I thought the rest of the school was there. Sorry about the bad info.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5/20/12 12:04 AM,

Is the Spare Change newspaper guy still around in front of Holyoke Center? He was a fixture of the Square in the late '90's.

Anonymous said...

I go through Harvard Square quite frequently; the neighborhood around Harvard is interesting- it is a super-SWPL neighborhood with swanky shops and ridiculous restaurants, but it is also absolutely loaded with vagrants, bums, and winos (not to mention a few able-bodied and clear-headed young layabouts). Perhaps this means that the neighborhood would be a total skid row if not for the presence of the university, but I suspect the real explanation is that the lefty politics inculcated by the academic community make the Cambridge authorities super-lenient about vagrancy.

The area immediately surrounding Brown is like this. I've been all over the city of Providence, and the beggars show up there, and not in the ghettos from which they hail. I've never seen them on Federal Hill (i.e., Little Italy). Some will be downtown, but you'll always find them on the East Side around Brown. The East Side is a fairly pristine section of town, so I imagine the beggars are allowed there because of leftoid politics.

Anonymous said...

I went to the University of Texas at Austin. Austin isn't a huge city, kind of like St. Paul without Minneapolis nearby, but the original 40 acres that UT was built on are very close to downtown Austin, and the area is relatively safe.

In Austin's case, I-35 acts as a barrier. The dangerous areas are in East Austin on the other side of the freeway from campus, downtown, the yuppie and swiple neighborhoods, etc.

UT's varsity baseball and softball fields are on the east side of I-35. They're the only reason any student crosses the freeway.

Anonymous said...

@ Get off my lawn,

Poster here that you replied to,
yes, I'd say there is real resentment of American against American. American discourse is rampant with it, if Paul Gottfried is correct, it's a Puritan thing, we are still watching each other, determining who is worthy and who ain't.

In this community destroying triangulation, Foreigners are just rhetorical tools to be used against the other side.

I've observed this not just on the internet, but in conversations at dinner parties and at cheap beer barbecues. The Left utilizes Mexican illegals, the Center-Right's rhetorical weapon of choice are freedom loving Middle Easterners and little Afghan girls. All of whom, it is theorized, would be better over here in the place of domestic source of hatred x. I've GOP friends, who, when pressed, don't mind aid lavished on Iraqis and Afghans as much as they do black welfare queens.

I can only offer my non-scientific anecdotal observations. What I was describing is very specific to Americans. I've never encountered the same sort of interactions in other countries: European, Asian or African. There is polite interest, certainly, but not much beyond that. Abroad, have you observed the sort of intense interest in a foreign waiter's background that I refer to? What Maya describes is pretty typical, and dare I say dehumanizing. It also smacks of faux-populism, which poorly covers snobbery.

Foreigners often aren't trying to prove anything other than to convince you how great their nation is, or that their rival is a worse person to deal with. If anything, you, as the foreigner, are subjected to an endless round of descriptions of how important family, music and food are to their culture. The conversation is nationalistic, bordering on the jingoist. And the folks I've interacted with were all educated, middle class and professional. Once they get to know you, however, and realize you aren't a typical American, the act stops and by the 2nd week they act normally.

If they do question you about the US most questions aren't cultural or, beyond pop culture, nor are they profound and are often political. People asked about Bush, but not about the history of Texas politics. That's another myth, folks abroad do not understand the US as much as people claim. Their understanding is often shallow, historically speaking.

Nobody asks me about my traditional culture. It is assumed, and Americans do much to encourage this as a reality and a stereotype, that we are all atomized individuals.

The desire to get people to like us, that you've describe, I've witnessed very often among older Americans, type A personalities, and young females.

If it is cosmopolitanism, it is a shallow form and not reflecting real interest in understanding how a foreign culture works.

Maya, my ex was an exchange student, and got subsequent offers. I should have added, the need to add diversity to a department is a concern, so in some instances foreign birth isn't so important. So, if she had been an African-American that would have trumped foreign nationality.

It was a topic of speculation about how much would be offered if a black person did apply. Goes back to what I said, rhetorical tools used in an internal conversation, if foreigners are lucky they get economic benefits, if not, they get liberating drones.

If I were to advise foreign students, I'd say work this hypocritical triangulation shamelessly- like Chelebi, Twain's "Dolphin" from Huck Finn, or any number of South Asian guru charlatans.

Peter said...

cardozo law school

Widely known as Carbozo, in "tribute" to its academic standards. Or lack thereof. It's a common sentiment in the city that Yeshiva University disgraced itself by opening and running such a poor law school.

Anonymous said...

Big Bill: "I went to U. Witwatersrand and lived in Hillbrow (google it). I win."

Holy smokes. I didn't realize that they let white folks attend Wits anymore. And Hillbrow? Wow. America in 50 years."

Apparently, Wits is still 35% White. I doubt too many live in Braamfontein, Hillbrow, Berea or Yeoville these days.

Almost thirty years ago the place was just starting to go ugly, oops vibrant. We practised 'Brazilian security': ie, wear cheap clothes and don't carry valuables.

James C. said...

Honestly Boston's Mission Hill isn't bad now. I lived there last year and had no problems except for noise from the largely student population. A lot of NU students and medical students and professionals live there now, especially on the Brigham Circle side. The Roxbury side still a bit "vibrant", but NOTHING like it was twenty years ago. It's too close and convenient to Back Bay and Brookline not to gentrify, and aesthetically it's highly attractive.

James C. said...

To the extent that the area around BU is unsafe, it's almost entirely because of rowdy BU students themselves.

Cambridge is a very safe city, the only downmarket area around Central Square and just west of MIT, but it's only a bit sketchy. Harvard Square area is very urban and very safe and fabulously expensive, which is why it gets so many weirdo Berkeley hippie types and (genial) panhandlers. I used to chat often with one wino bum who happened to hold a Ph.D and speak six languages.

Anonymous said...

James C. is right about Boston/Cambridge bums. I was waiting for my girlfriend at a coffee shop patio on upscale Newbury Street and was chatting with a vagrant who was taking surreptitious nips from a bottle while reading The Song of Roland!

walter condley said...

George Washington University has about as urban a campus as you can get


Steve, look! This guy knows how to do it. You can too.

Anonymous said...

I used to chat often with one wino bum who happened to hold a Ph.D and speak six languages.

That's not as rare as you might think.

dcs said...

To the east, however, Penn is directly across the Schuylkill River from upscale Center City, and a lot of students, especially graduate and professional students, live there and walk (it's not a very wide river) or bike to campus.

Although it should be noted that that part of Center City is really kind of sketchy.