Friday Night Discussion: The Satire Defense

High school senior Suzy Lee Weiss made waves when her op-ed about the college admissions process was published in the Wall Street Journal last Friday. Ms. Weiss had a GPA of 4.5, scored 2120 on the SAT, and had served as a Senate page, but when she got rejection letters from several top schools in one day, she decided to editorialize on the perceived unfairness and arbitrary nature of who gets accepted into Ivy League universities.

Now, I’m sure many of us can understand and sympathize with the frustration of getting that much bad news in one day. Schools like Yale, Princeton, Vanderbilt, and the University of Pennsylvania (all of whom rejected her) receive many times more applicants than they could possible admit, and nearly all of them are similarly well-qualified, so the schools have to look at more than just grades and test scores. Students are put under a ton of pressure to get into the “right” schools, and I can’t fault teens for trying to make their applications stand out via extracurriculars. I’m also fully in favor of affirmative action programs to bring diversity to student bodies. Ms. Weiss apparently has a different view.

For starters, had I known two years ago what I know now, I would have gladly worn a headdress to school. Show me to any closet, and I would’ve happily come out of it. “Diversity!” I offer about as much diversity as a saltine cracker. If it were up to me, I would’ve been any of the diversities: Navajo, Pacific Islander, anything. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, I salute you and your 1/32 Cherokee heritage.

…Then there was summer camp. I should’ve done what I knew was best – go to Africa, scoop up some suffering child, take a few pictures, and write my essays about how spending that afternoon with Kinto changed my life. Because everyone knows that if you don’t have anything difficult going on in your own life, you should just hop on a plane so you’re able to talk about what other people have to deal with.

She also lamented her lack of a “Tiger mom” (or two moms) and said that she “probably should have started a fake charity.” Many people called her a spoiled brat throwing a temper tantrum because she didn’t get her way. Others praised her for telling the truth about the rigged and/or random admissions process and for not worrying about political correctness.

On Thursday, Ms. Weiss went on The Today Show to defend herself. She claimed that the article was intended to be satirical, just a joke. She said that of course she thinks diversity “is a wonderful thing” but she then added, “In this day and age, we’re being judged on things that we cannot control as opposed to things that we can,” which sounds like she’s saying it’s not fair to take things like race and ethnicity into account.

What do y’all think? Was it intended as satire all along, or is she backpedalling because she got called out? Does it count as satire when a person in a place of privilege is complaining that she can’t get into a good school because she’s too darn white and straight? Does she make any good points about the admissions process?

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[E] Hillary

Hillary is a giant nerd and former Mathlete. She once read large swaths of "Why Evolution is True" and a geology book aloud to her infant daughter, in the hopes of a) instilling a love of science in her from a very young age and b) boring her to sleep. After escaping the wilds of Waco, Texas and spending the next decade in NYC, she currently lives in upstate New York, where she misses being able to get decent pizza and Chinese takeout delivered to her house. She lost on Jeopardy.

14 thoughts on “Friday Night Discussion: The Satire Defense”

  1. I don’t believe it was satire, and maybe teenagers shouldn’t tackle that genre because they generally do a pretty poor job of it.

    That said, this was being discussed on NPR today and one of the guests said that Suzy’s parents should be so proud that their daughter got published by such a prestigious paper at such a young age. The host said, ‘well, in the interest of full disclosure, Suzy’s sister is a former editor for the paper’. And the guest said ‘Oh’ in this really flat voice. I laughed hysterically.

  2. She should consider it just one of many life lessons… sometimes, you work your ass off and still don’t get what you want. I understand she’s frustrated, but this is something to vent about to your friends and family, who should then tell you this is one of those difficult things about growing up and tell you to move on to your next opportunity, because with her GPA/credentials, she still has plenty of opportunities and doors wide open to her.

  3. Hm. I can’t watch the clip right now, but from what I’m reading I think she has a point, but she should have taken a different path sharing it.

    Here it isn’t with university admissions, but with jobs in some branches. Students taking a sabbatical so they can add charity, amazing life-developments and extra classes in everything.

  4. Girly is totally backpedaling and the least she could do is own up to the fact that she’s a spoiled and entitled brat…BUT, in her defense, the admissions process is a bitch and a half. Perfect grades aren’t enough, you need the right extracurricular activities and something extra to stand out amongst other applicants, so yeah, race will be factored in. I’ll never pity a white person who didn’t get in because of an “affirmative action admission” because hey, that “minority” will still be less than 20% of school body and still less likely to get hired than that white student after graduating.

  5. I just wonder if she would have played the discrimination card if she had been part of the 780 accepted instead of the 25,220 rejected. I feel sorry for her. When I was her age (about 100 years ago), I thought it was all about me and when something didn’t turn out as I expected, I felt as though it wasn’t fair. Time passes and I learned that we aren’t generally guaranteed fairness (especially when only 7% will be chosen).

  6. I think the real problem with her letter is: How in the heck did it end up in the Wall Street Journal? I mean, I know that her brother apparently works for them, but still! I know I can’t be the only person in this world to write a tantrum-gram, and then not send it. The thing is that the “not sending” comes from the advice from a non-upset person, and this poor girl was told that her tantrum-gram was worthy of publishing in the WSJ. What she wrote wasn’t satire-it was someone lashing out because they were hurt, and the responsible adults should have recognized that and put a stop to the process. I’m not putting the onus of stopping it on the girl-she’s a kid, she was upset, and she had adults she trusted egging her on and pushing the process.

    1. I think it’s actually an older sister at the WSJ. I don’t know why they would otherwise run such a crappy article if it weren’t for a family connection. If she was going for satire, it was poorly written. And no, I don’t feel bad for her at all. You don’t always get what you want in life no matter how hard you work because–news flash!–the world is NOT fair. Just get back up off your ass and keep at it. She has other opportunities. I have no sympathy for her.

  7. She’s backing up so fast her ass should be beeping. She whined because being white, bright, and (presumably) well off didn’t buy her what she wanted, and now that she’s being called out on it she doesn’t like it.

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