The student said the school mascot was wimpy. “It is not a local symbol, and it is not even an animal, it is just a piece of fruit. What can a piece of fruit intimidate? Nothing.” The university spends money on such things, he went on, “but not on education.” The new sculpture in the quad is “tacky, which together with the expense it surely incurred, embodies everything that is wrong with the university.¨

I said that at my university those statements would become an editorial cartoon in the student newspaper, that would go viral.  He said that could never happen here, as everything is so controlled, and reprisal for disrespect is so certain.

What fascinated me was that at every point he saw things so much more clearly than I. I would not say such trenchant things about the school and its purposes, nor am I as aware and also accepting as he is of the dangers that inhere in expressing such perceptions.


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