DC's Ivy League

I am proud to announce that my alma mater, American University, has equaled the accomplishments of Harvard, Brown, and Columbia in one important regard. Our endowment? Heavens-to-Betsy, no. Harvard's endowment is, like, equal to Sweden's gross domestic product. Is it the quality of our faculty? The average SAT scores of accepted students? Perhaps a similar ranking from US News and World Report? No, no, and of course not.

American University has equaled those three Ivy League schools in one thing and one thing only: The number of subpoenas issued by the state of New York for taking kickbacks from study abroad programs.

Arrangements between providers and universities are often undisclosed and could limit student options and increase prices, according to The New York Times. The kickbacks could include rebates, free and subsidized travel, unpaid seats on advisory boards, help with back-office services, marketing stipends and other benefits.

Ripping off students is right up AU's alley. This comes as no shock. My years there (2001-2005) were filled with corruption and screwing over the student population in every conceivable way. A good example and personal favorite was the school charging $9+ for a $5 meal at Chick-Fil-A on its meal plan. I'm sure AU students and alumni have plenty of other examples to share in the comments.

I did, however, take glee in this:

The university has not received any explanation of why it was chosen...

Anyone who is familiar with American's demographics know exactly why the university was chosen. The high concentration of New Yorkers at America is so ridiculous that I'm surprised Rudy hasn't campaigned there yet.


  1. Well if they're onto American, GW can't be far behind. I daresay we're better than AU at everything, but especially corruption and ripping off students.

    (I kid, all in the spirit of friendly rivalry.)

  2. Not buying back incredibly expensive textbooks at the end of the semester was a specialty of AU when I was there. Inevitably, the $10 book got bought back, but the $150 books - no dice. I only did the meal plan for 1 semester. Most unhealthy food I have ever seen.

    But - they have a Chik-Fil-A now????? All we had was Armand's and the generic/no-name fast food joint in Mary Graydon (did I just date myself?)

  3. When I was there, AU wanted to be Harvard on the Potomac. At least they've matched the Ivy League schools in terms of corruption. It's a start!

  4. I went one semester, then ran out of money. The food service was operated by Marriott back then. (My roommate used to say "I've gotta go take a marriott."

    The college had a reputation as an expensive school for dumb rich kids from New Jersey, Westchester and Long Island. It was the first place I heard the term "JAP."

    The esteemed president was a nice guy, very intelligent, would show up on Nightline once in awhile, and then...was caught soliciting teenage girls with obscene phone calls.

    Oh well. And yes, very expensive and culturally dominated by obscenely ambitious College Republicans ready to serve in the Reagan Revolution Army of khaki pants and blue blazers marching toward Capitol Hill. (Now I'm dating myself, aren't I?)

  5. Here we go again!

    However, I am thinking that the kickbacks from this latest ordeal won't even be as scandalous as the ones a certain Mr. Ben Ladner received during my time at AU.

    So yeah, paying $9 a meal for
    Chick-fil-A or at TDR....BAD

    Shelling out $300 dollars for books a semester, only to be told that just one is being bought back at the end of the semester...TERRIBLE

    But getting stiffed with a $500,000expense bill from Pres. Ladner and his "First Lady"... wait, make that over 3.5 million when you include the serverance pay we patted him on the back with as we held the door for him to exit graciously, well that's just PRICELESS!

    I think we've not only matched the Ivy League schools in corruption and ability to rip off students, we might just have to be called the best at it!

  6. As an alumna, I agree. I was miserable every moment that I spent there being ignored by SIS graduate professors who had no time to see any point of view but their very own narrow one.

  7. $300 a semester for books? WHAT?! Who got by so cheaply? 2002-2006/7 there for graduate studies and I spent easily $1,000+ per semester. Never any less.

    As a poor kid from eastern Kentucky it literally took a letter from a democratic senator's office to get me in. They wouldn't allow a dumb hick in on scholarship straight out of high school. On scholarship. Far surpassing all requirements. Etc.

    My time there was quite possibly the most embarrassing and difficult experience in life so far. Would never go back for grad (or undergrad) if given the opportunity to do it over.

  8. For a university that ran almost everything on the cheap when I was there (grad studies, 2004-06), it's amazing to hear that AU is somehow mentioned in the same breath as the Ivies.

    Especially considering the times I spent in some of the worst classrooms I have ever seen, and some of the most godawful food ever served up anywhere (anybody wonder what was in the "pizza" they served up?). And Ben Ladner had a French chef at $88K, paid by the school (ie the students' fees)...what joy!!!

  9. I wonder if they got kickbacks for the "professional development" trips the Ladner's personal chef took to Rome, Paris and London.

  10. I did my undergrad at AU and my grad work at GW, and I have to say that GW definitely has AU beat in the petty, nickle and diming department. Everything costs something at GW--transcripts, graduation was 5xs as much, even alumni library access is $10! And their class rooms were WAY worse. Of course at AU I was in SPA and at GW I wasn't in the Eliot School...

  11. @Liz:

    Can't say about GW. But did you ever see the basement classrooms at SIS? Pretty freakin' grim, in my opinion.

  12. Howard University is the best college EVEN BETTER THAN HARVARD