Article mock-praising Wash. U. for husband options finds criticism
The College Magazine article “CM’s Top 10 Universities to Find a Husband” took a humorous approach to young women’s college ambitions, stating that “college is totally just about finding the perfect man, right?”
The article ranked the United States Military Academy in first place, followed by Brigham Young University in second and Washington University in third, highlighting the intellect and wealth of its students as opposed to the “book smarts, street smarts, and…weight room smarts” of West Point cadets and the focus on religion and family values among BYU attendees.
According to the article’s author, senior Alexi Knock of Hofstra University, an editor supplied the topic and title to complement a forthcoming article, “Top 10 Universities to Find a Wife.” Knock said she decided to make the tone “as ridiculous and almost satirical as possible” so the joke would be obvious.
“I’m definitely not advocating that someone go to school for [the purpose of finding a husband],” she said. “It’s meant to be almost a parody on the type of person in our society that would do that.”
Knock based her rankings on data she obtained from various U.S. News & World Report college rankings as well as an article from CBS News that revealed that Washington University has the smallest percentage of Pell Grant recipients in the nation.
David Bender, a freshman at the University, is quoted in the College Magazine article stating, “Wash. U. St. Louis guys are intelligent, wealthy gentlemen who are destined to be well-off, respected citizens who will always provide for their families.”
In an interview with Student Life, Bender said that he did not feel his quote was accurately represented since “the tone of [his] quote was making fun of the article itself.”
“The entire article should be taken with a grain of salt,” he added, emphasizing the satirical tone and theme. “Not that there’s anything wrong with Wash. U. guys, but I wasn’t taking the article seriously.”
Some students found Bender’s comment and the story itself offensive. The “Wash. U. Confessions” Facebook page ran Confession #89, which read, “Let’s talk about white privilege” in response to Bender’s quote, which had previously been posted on the page.
Freshman Emily Alves found the article offensive.
“It is very much a white privilege piece, even if it is satirical. I think it just should have been more obvious about it,” she said. “Just reading it for the first time, I was completely horrified.”
“It would have been hilarious as a video,” she added. “I think the point would have been more clear. Things on the Internet lack tone, especially when there’s a sudden backlash, where’s there’s a group opinion over what it is. In a video your tone is more clear.“
Leana Rivera, an editor at College Magazine, emphasized the humorous nature and aim to address dating culture and how it differs across colleges, demonstrating that a hook-up culture does not dominate every campus.
“We thought it would be a really fun way to start out and see how it works, maybe go from there to ‘Top 10 Schools for Hookups,’” Rivera said, “but for now we just thought it might be a fun kind of article people might enjoy. I thought it accomplished what we wanted it to: it had a humorous twist to it but also explains that some people in college are looking for an end goal, to get married, and it showed the colleges in a way I think they’ve never been showcased before.”
Rivera denied any desire by College Magazine to promote sexism.
“Nobody should ever attend a college or university to find a husband or to find a wife—of course we know that’s not what college is about,” Rivera said. “But funny articles exist, we like to write them, a lot of people like to read them and that’s pretty much it.”
Not everyone found the article particularly offensive. With over 21,000 likes, the article is overwhelmingly the most-shared College Magazine piece on Facebook, eclipsing the second-most popular article, which has only 241 likes.
Junior Ruth Schmalenberger, said many of her friends were confused by the ranking, considering that most people she knows do not consider marriage until long after leaving the University.
“Most of the people I know are like, ‘Wait, why would you want to get married right after college?’ It’s not like BYU or something where that’s the norm,” she said. “People are like, ‘Ew, marriage? Wait until I’m like, 35.’”
Yet Alexandra Haefele had a different experience, marrying her husband Ben, whom she met in Resident Advisor training, after she graduated in 2011.
“I was kind of surprised by that article too, and I definitely would not say I was on the prowl for a husband,” she said.
But she added that attending Washington University did ultimately lead her to her husband.
“I always felt like a certain kind of person went [to Wash. U.], a good person, a person that had values, integrity and I don’t know if I would have met Ben any other way. We wouldn’t have met otherwise if we hadn’t gone to Wash. U.“
“That was a big part of our marriage and we ended up getting married at Graham Chapel, actually, and having our wedding photos around Wash. U.’s campus.”
A complementary article, “Top 10 Universities to Find a Wife,” will be published in the next few weeks.