The Social Ivy. We’ve all heard the phrase, whether during the tours we took of Penn as high school juniors or from our own mouths as we explain to non-Quakers why they should be impressed with our credentials. True or not, the latter is the ultimate branding strategy; the only thing better than demanding elite status is to do it while simultaneously implying that our love of all that is social precludes us from being labeled obnoxious or snobbish.
The coup de grace is that such marketing brilliance only affirms Penn’s Ivy claim. Whammy!
Yet beyond its utility, the question remains: what does "Social Ivy" actually mean? For me, Penn as Social Ivy is grounded in the fact that there are two places on campus that are acceptable to cite as where you spent most of your night: Smoke’s (of course!) and Rosengarten.
Yes, Huntsman is open all night too. But having the (unfortunate) privilege of passing long nights in both study centers, I can safely say that they are not comparable. Huntsman has an isolationist culture; Rosengarten was founded with the intent of creating a collective where students could sit with other students suffering through the same late-night struggle (check the etching on the glass exit if you don’t believe me).
Studying as a shared — as a social — activity: this is why in my mind Rosengarten embodies what makes us the Social Ivy. It’s once again the best of both worlds. Forget cake: we want our study space and the a-okay to chat with a friend too.
It makes sense. After all, it is Rosengarten — everyone you know is there.
Because the thing is, Smoke’s and Rosengarten aren’t so different. This week’s feature (see page 10) delves into what makes our beloved watering hole more intrinsic to Penn’s fabric than many landmark buildings (I’m looking at you, DRL), and the truth is only a bar and backpacks separate one from the other. It’s mostly the same people, they’re both too small for the population they serve and spending a night in either one is a rite of passage.
Agree or disagree, I think we can compromise on one important distinction: Smoke’s is a helluva lot more fun than the library.
Here’s to you,