7/10/07

Academic Snobbery

Since everyone has been weighing in on the new Middlebury logo all day, I'll throw in my two cents' worth. Personally, I think the reaction is silly. I checked Midd's home page out of idle curiosity when I saw a reference to the new logo on Facebook, and I can't say I'm a big fan, but I didn't think about it again until it started cropping up on people's blogs. I laughed out loud when I got an invite to a Facebook group protesting the new logo. Of all the "causes" you could devote your time and energy to, why pick one protesting a mere logo that isn't negatively affecting anyone in any material way?

I understand that a school's logo is in some sense its face to the outside world, but I really think people are overestimating its importance. There are two or three schools whose logos I could immediately identify (UT's Hook'Em and A&M's Gig'Em spring to mind), but they're all within a close radius of my home and are inextricably linked with sports. The academic reputations of schools are linked to their names, not the pictures that appear on their t-shirts. I got piles of mail from colleges when I was applying and I don't remember a single logo, even from the schools that I ultimately visited. My point is, for a college at least, a logo is a fairly meaningless graphic that happens to appear on a lot of college material. It may attract some loyalty in its immediate environs or among its sports fans, but it would take a heck of a campaign to for a college to embed its logo in the national consciousness the way, say, Apple or Nike have. A college and its reputation are identified by the name. If all someone can associate with a college is a picture, what have we gained? To have a high opinion of Midd's academic standing, there are already thoughts involved that have to be expressed in words.

Even allowing a logo to have slightly more importance than I've made out, a change in logos in no way warrants the sort of vociferous reaction it has received. I reiterate: find a new cause. If you have that much hate to spare, take it out on world hunger, disease, war, politics, anything that actually matters outside the Midd bubble. I think we MiddKids are so used to having our opinions matter that we rush to have an opinion on everything and make mountains out of molehills in our self-important opinionatedness. Some things just aren't worth having this violent an opinion about.