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J. Crew U

Ditch it or deal with it?

For The Miami Stu

Published: Thursday, April 29, 2010

Updated: Friday, May 21, 2010 12:05

j crew u ditch it or deal with it

HANNAH MILLER | The Miami Student


A pair of crisply pressed jeans, a pink Oxford shirt and a pair of tan Sperry Top-Siders.

Nike workout shorts, a half-zip monogrammed with Greek letters and a pair of blue Sperry Top-Siders.

 

Khaki slacks, a white polo shirt, a pair of tan Sperry Top-Siders.

Sit anywhere on campus and observe a rainbow of Sperry Top-Siders, Polo's, button up shirts and Greek letters. In the wintertime, one can't walk five feet without spotting a pair of UGG boots or a North Face jacket.

These Miami staples are part of the reason our school has earned the nickname "J. Crew U."

College Prowler, an online college review site, says the J. Crew U nickname "aptly describes the unofficial dress code of the school. Even when girls go to class in T-shirts and sweatpants, they somehow pull it off with style. Miami students take their wardrobe very seriously."

In a student-conducted survey, 85 percent of Miami students admitted getting e-mails from J. Crew.

First-year Grace Herbert said she was frustrated with the J. Crew U stereotype.

"It's not fair that we are all labeled as stuck-up rich white kids because in reality, not all of us are," Herbert said.

Students are used to battling this image on a day-to-day basis.

"As you spend more time as a student at Miami, J. Crew U is just something that you deal with," first-year Jenny Besman said.

"Miami University is highly recognized for its preppy nature and overall ‘attractive' student body … Some people say the guys and girls at Miami can have a snobby streak brought on by their good looks, nice clothes and high family incomes," College Prowler said.

First-year Julia Marvel, a Boston native, said the J. Crew U stereotype was not something she was familiar with before arriving on campus.

"I could see that the school was really preppy," Marvel said. "The majority of the students were dressed up, whether they were going to class or just hanging out."

Students agreed that while some obviously fit the seeming stereotype, there are plenty of students who do not.

"There are a lot of students who fit the ‘mold' and there are a lot that don't," senior Matt Hoffman said.

Alumni said the stereotype existed, but not all Miami students applied.

"There was always the stereotype of Miami students being preppy while I was there," said Sumita Lindsey, a 1978 graduate.

Dennis Matejka, a 1980 graduate, disagreed. Matejka said he thought it was unfair to place that stereotype on a student body that had nothing to do with the stereotype's birth.

"There was some of every type of person," Matejka said. "You know, there were hippie types and preppy types and the jocks, the athletes…so there was a good mix."

Another part of Miami culture often associated with this lingering stereotype is Greek life.

"When they ask about Greek community, I say, ‘Yeah, a third of our campus is Greek but I'm not Greek and I have friends and I have a lot of fun here,'" Hoffman said. "I try to qualify a lot of what I have to say with my own stories."

Oxford's Greek community gift shop, Alpha House, is home to many employees affiliated with the Greek community.

Junior Selena DeGirolamo, Alpha House employee and member of Delta Zeta sorority, said the Greek community is home to a powerful microcosm of the stereotypical image.

"There's always the typical sorority girl," DeGirolamo said. "Miami does have that reputation, but I feel like it's played up way more than what it really is. People are a lot more diverse than what Miami gets credit for I think."

Miami has recently hired a re-branding crew to fix Miami's misunderstood image.

Target X is a college recruitment company that works with universities to target the next generation: incoming freshman, according to the website. Target X has attempted to begin the Miami stereotype facelift by changing tour guide protocol.

Hoffman said the company hopes to stop the stereotype in its tracks by advising tour guides to tell their own stories as opposed to rattling off facts and statistics.

Before Target X, tour guides were given some "off-limits" topics like preppy fashion, drinking and snobby attitudes associated with Miami.

"We didn't have to lie, but we used to have to skirt around certain topics," Hoffman said.

Hoffman has worked as a Miami tour guide for three years.

Tour guides are encouraged to be very honest, making the campus as real to the prospective students as possible. Hoffman said relaying his own experiences while highlighting the positive beauty of Miami is the way to go.

Miami carries another detrimental stereotype; middle to upper class and mostly white population. Miami's admissions website said 91.2 percent of 2009-2010 students classify themselves as Caucasian.

In 2008, The Princeton Review ranked Miami as the fourth most homogeneous university.

First-year John Malloy didn't categorize diversity as purely racial, though.

"Although Miami may not be as racially diverse as one would hope, I do still believe Miami is diverse, just in other ways," Malloy said.

In another student survey, the majority of students agreed Miami University is more diverse than their respective high schools.

"No matter where you went to high school, this university is more diverse than that in different ways" said first-year Michael Cole.

Students acknowledge there is a stereotype, but argue Miami students are diverse and separate from the J. Crew mindset. Miami's effort in creating an image that expunges the name of J. Crew U is currently in progress.

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