Thursday, January 28, 2016

Forging a Whitmanic, Post-Traditional, Bisexual Identity by Kelsey Picciano

What does it mean to be? The term human “being” implies that within every person is an inherent feeling of presence or existence. Perhaps this is not the case for some; perhaps some feel their physical existence, but not their own unique existence, as an individual. They may lack a sense of identity. A body made up of complex bonds of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen contains a consciousness molded, not by its own whim, but by its environment and the other carbon-, hydrogen- and oxygen-bodied individuals around it. The constant pressure imposed by the many other conscious minds around it has left the body with an empty and superficial feeling of being to wander around the Earth unsure of the world or its standing within it. Indeed, this is what I experienced upon being thrown, head-first, into the vast and confusing world on my own. I found myself “being” who I thought others wanted me to be, fitting a predetermined mold that shifted as my environment did. It was in the realization of the emptiness of my being that I found the need to nourish my soul and develop a sense of identity. Readings of Plato, Alan Watts, Walt Whitman and Gloria Anzaldua gave me the medicine I needed to not only challenge and enlarge but also to resolve my conflicts with identity, allowing me to mold a true and unique idea of self. 

Kelsey Joann Picciano: my idea of self started with this name. Born into an Italian, Christian family, my collision with identity originated here. Christianity was never an aspect of my life that I was allowed to choose; rather I was forced into these beliefs. As an evolving and transcending individual I soon found a larger and larger separation between my developing ideologies and those of Christianity. This separation was shamed by my family leaving me to wonder where this opposing view on religion originated from. Upon my reading of The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan Watts, I found an explanation for this burning question. Watts states, “Christianity has become incredibly difficult to explain to a modern person,” and this singular statement gave way to a series of revelations within me (Watts, 10). Throughout time there is such an immense and growing disconnect between archaic religions and the ever evolving views of modern society that I find it difficult to connect with a religion that preaches ideologies so far removed from my modern moral standards. It is impossible for me to identify with a religion that still contains justification for the buying and selling of slaves in its holy scripture (Leviticus 25:44-46). On a more personal level, how can an openly bisexual female sit through the service of a religion that proclaims her sexuality to be an abomination (Leviticus 18:22)? Being born into a far more accepting and tolerant generation than that of my parents, many of my views do not align with theirs or those of the religion I was born into, but this does not make my views wrong. Watts helped me understand the origin of my lack of religious identity. I’ve become acutely aware of the fact that my ideologies may never align with those of my family, but I am of a modern generation that they may fail to understand, and I am at peace with that.

With such tight reigns bound by my heavily Christian mother, I led a very sheltered childhood. I lived in a small town resembling the ideal white suburbia; I went to public school; I attended church every Sunday. It is said that within the time spent in high school, an idea of self shall form; but how can one form an identity as part of a society she knows very little about? In this way I identify very closely with the prisoners in Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave.” Just as the prisoners knew little of the world around them with the exception of the shadows cast on the cave wall in front of them, I knew little of the world around me with the exception of the information presented before me in my average American schooling (Plato). I learned only that of the history the school chose for me to learn; I read only the literature of which the school wished for me to read; I knew only of the environment that the school wished for me to be in. Fast forward four years to graduation and the beginning of college: I moved from a small, mainly white town to Hofstra, a school often referred to as “the diversity university.” Coming to Hofstra, the equivalent of breaking free from the cave, led me to the same realization as the newly liberated prisoner. The previous “realities” which I had been presented were not real at all; the previous schooling which I participated in painted a picture of the world for me; my previous life was a picture of a place lacking diversity, lacking discrimination and lacking anything more meaningful than the superficial ideals of my small “utopian” town. 

College did not paint any pictures for me; instead, it handed me a reality that I was then allowed to internalize. This permitted me to make an insurmountable amount of discoveries about myself. The reality I now knew was an expanded and fuller understanding of how I, as a single individual, fit into this whole big world. It is following this aspect of my experience in parallel to that of the prisoner that I found conflict. In terms of identifying as this newly freed prisoner, overwhelmed by new ideas and currently in the process of discovering how to know who I am, I do not find part of my identity to be as a teacher or leader in the transcendence of others. I find it difficult to believe that within my experience of intellectual growth and expansion into a new developed identity, I gained the purpose and responsibility to bring my new found ideologies to others. I identify now as more of an enlightened thinker due to my time spent “outside the cave,” but I do not identify as a guide for the unenlightened.

Miraculously while still “in the cave,” I was able to establish a large part of my identity as a bisexual female. Although Gloria Anzaldua’s “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” speaks of her identification as a Chicana in America, I found within it the ability to enlarge my sense of identity. Anzaldua discusses how the people around her shamed her for expressing who she was, a young girl who spoke Spanish and English or perhaps a dialect stuck somewhere in between. She writes about her struggle to find a true identity due to the constant shaming of how she spoke, how she acted, and who she was. At the end of this writing she comes to the realization and proclaims, “I am my language” (Anzaldua). When taken at face value, this essay is viewed as identity in terms of language and culture, but it is much more than that. Gloria enlarges my sense of identity through her acceptance of who she is despite being shamed for her self-expression. Revealing to my family that I am not the perfect daughter they had hoped for, being deeply Christian as previously mentioned, was not a feat so easily accomplished. I lived knowing the most important and influential people in my life were ashamed of a characteristic of my being that is beyond my control. Months of my life were spent internalizing the passive-aggressive, homophobic comments shared at the dinner table; months of my life were spent being unable to bring home the person I chose to be with in fear that she would also have to suffer the venomous hatred that spewed from the mouths of my family. Gloria’s unfaltering sense of pride in which she owns and displays her identity without the fear of judgment served as an inspiration to my sexual identity. Bisexuality used to be a part of my identity I tucked away from the eyes of the world with an inherent fear of judgement and disdain from those who opposed who I am. Bisexuality is now an aspect of my identity that will not be concealed but instead displayed proudly as a badge of merit. 

My sexual identity, religious identity and my intellectual identity are all parts that compose my individual identity as a whole. Preceding my readings of Whitman, that was the only self that I knew. Whitman presents an idea that both challenges and enlarges my identity as an individual all together. He suggests that there is in fact no self. The idea of existing as entities completely independent of one another is not the way of existence, “for every atom belonging to me as good as belongs to you” (Whitman, 1). The idea of a universal self has both enlightening and challenging aspects. It is difficult to believe or understand that the individual I am growing into and identity that I am developing is found in all those around me. There are aspects of myself others do not comprehend, let alone possess. Every human cannot relate to what it feels like to be bisexual in a family of strict Christians; every human cannot reach the level of consciousness achieved through the intellectual growth I have spent this time achieving. However, this idea that we are all of a universal consciousness and there is no separation between me and the person next to me also enlarges my identity. A white, college-aged female may not be capable of understanding the plight of a middle-aged African-American man, but there are aspects of the struggles we face that are universal. All humans originated from the same human condition. All humans are composed of the same biological and chemical components. All humans are formed from the same Earth-given nourishment. All humans are a part of the same genome. All humans are brought into this world bound to die at some point. Humans are almost all biologically identical, formed from the same Earth, living in the same universe. Aspects of the lives of diverse communities of humans will never be identical but there is an overlying connection that unites us all. The ability to look at the human beings neighboring us through a light that is not so focused around “me vs. them” opens the door to many aspects of a newly forming identity in which a small portion of all of humanity can be found.

A full eighteen years of my life I had spent wandering around the Earth lacking a true idea of who Kelsey Joann Picciano really was. Finally having enough of constantly molding to the social standards and views set by those around me, I turned to these various works as medicine to a damaged self-image. My readings of Watts, Plato and Anzaldua allowed me to solidify my newly forming identity as both an individual and also in accordance with the world around me. I no longer find myself with a void sitting inside of me; I no longer solely feel my physical being; I feel my existence as my own unique individual. Now returning to my previous statement, what does it mean to be? In my search for answers pertaining to my identity as a human being, I stumbled upon a quote that speaks volumes about the limitless nature of individuality and identity. "To be human? What is anything without a definition? To define is to measure. To measure is to limit” (Oliech).

Works Cited

Anzaldua, Gloria. "How to Tame a Wild Tongue." (n.d.): n. pag. Http:// Web.

Oliech, Daniel. "What It Means to Be Truly Human." Https:// N.p.,

Socrates. Plato THE ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE (n.d.): n. pag. Https:// Web.

Watts, Allan. "The Book: The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are." Http:// N.p.,

Whitman, Walt. "Section 1." Song of Myself. N.p.: n.p., n.d.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

George Wallace's Swimming through Water, poetry book & CD with David Amram: A Conversation

George Wallace

Swimming through Water, George Wallace, poetry, La Finestra, Trento, Italy, 406 pages, 2002; spoken word CD with musician David Amram in back cover sleeve



JONATHAN PENTON: I love the variety on this CD. It's one of those discs with a consistent, unifying set of themes, but huge deviances from track to track. There's a wide variety of instrumentation, and the flute on "When I Am Old," a track featuring George Wallace reading the poem of David Ignatow, is particularly haunting, striking the right balance between kind and creepy that's essential for such a theme. This track is in contrast, stylistically, to the jazziness of "Contest of the Electric Flowercars," but there's still a steady stream of sensibility and aesthetics that gives the disc a clear focus.


KIRPAL GORDON: One reason for the range is George Wallace's command of his craft. It's all there in his warm baritone voice, his musician's sense of time, his surrealist leaps and his emphatic understatements. Like Willie Nelson, you can hear the nicks and crannies of his whole life in his phrasing: he's not hiding anything. He's also quite adept at employing an opening phrase or line that repeats throughout the poem. Sure, that's a trope that many in the Whitman lineage use, but he "makes it new" and with startling results.


The other big reason it's steady and clear yet varied in instrumentation is David Amram on piano, tabla and various flutes. He's been around a few blocks as a player, conductor and composer, investigating and synthesizing musical traditions long before the term World Beat came into coinage. I've seen him play flutes from North Africa to Japan and there's no mood he can't evoke. Like so many jazz folks of his generation, he knows how not to get in the way of the words, whether sung or spoken. That's de rigueur for those old cats who came up in big bands that accommodated vocalists for part of the set. Amram started his career on French horn---a majestic, warm and round sound---so you know he knows when to hold and when to fold 'em. He's got that haunting Navajo-like flute in the poem you mentioned for David Ignatow: spooky, arresting, long-toned. Wallace’s last line---"I will ask for red roses, in remembrance of the first loss"---locates the balance you’re talking about between fear of aging and joy of celebrating. Once again, the poem really finds its home in the melody. It's much more moving than when simply read to oneself. Along this line, check out the sixth track, "The Wave," because Amram really plays inside this haunted beauty of a poem. It's only a minute and a half long, but it's magical proof of how music and lyric are one fabric, just like ol' Ez told us. Moreover, it's up to the task of revealing how "great wardrobes of light drape the ancients, dark mending waters after all."

David Amram

JONATHAN PENTON: It's real clear that Amram gets what Wallace is trying to do with the poetry. The poems and instrumentation are deeply integrated and highly complimentary; the themes and issues are congruent throughout. And what themes and issues! These are extremely original poems, tackling the quotidian from the most remarkable directions. Consider the opening lines of the second track: "God makes a note to himself / things to permit to occur without interruption." Or that track you mentioned, "The Wave," with its brilliant and moody imagery. What we've got here is a true affection for life in all its parameters, revealed by an absolutely expert pen, delighting in its own words and what those words signify. This is an extremely sophisticated and beautiful book, and Amram gives it additional power in a way that only someone who really "gets it" can.


KIRPAL GORDON: You've nailed it and this is the toughest thing of all, that the whole is larger than the sum of its parts. No question, that second track is a gem and truly written in heaven. Here are some typical lines and notice how smartly he spaces his syllables while Amram plays a thoughtful, spacious chord progression on piano underneath: "a bird in flight a child in prayer oceanspray windsong/ the progress of the sun through day" or "old men shaking hands with each other / death cheated vengeance denied / hope luck second chances / good advice freely offered / headlights on an empty road / the reappearance of fireflies in july" and that killer last line that would make a James Wright fan smile: "any soldier who desires to lay down his weapon / and turn his face in the direction of home." By the way, did you know that Wallace, a former reporter for The Long Islander, a newspaper founded by Walt Whitman in 1839, is also a former poet laureate of Suffolk County? So that last line really packs a political punch which, to my ear is as inseparable as the music of Amram to the poetry.


For a favorite track, I vote for the title piece, the first track on the CD, "Swimming Through Water," which, by the way, is also the title of Wallace's poetry collection, published by La Finestra Press of Italy, in English and with Italian translations by Anny Ballardini who also interviews Wallace at the back of the book. Amram has great reach on the piano and in this song he reminds me of Edgar Meyer-Yo Yo Ma-Mark O'Connor's collaborative evocation of Appalachia. Amram blends these pianistic kernels of Kentucky and the Mississippi River a la the Gershwin of "Porgy and Bess" and mixes in a quiet, Impressionist reach of "Rhapsody in Blue." He sprinkles these clusters to great effect in and around Wallace's well timed and repeating phrase, "some folks." The piano water-dances through rain pools, and if you check the track against the printed version you will see how much improvising with the text Wallace is doing as well. It hangs so smartly together and it's got lyrical wings!

Geroge Wallace at the Huntington Barn

This conversation originally appeared in a slightly different form in Unlikely Stories.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Mikhail Horowitz's The Blues of the Birth reviewed by Kirpal Gordon

The Blues of the Birth, Mikhail Horowitz with special guests, 9 tracks, Euphoria Jazz at, produced by Artie Traum & Bob Irwin;
The Opus of Everything in Nothing Flat, Mikhail Horowitz, Red Hill/CVS Outloud Books, ISBN 10: 1879969025 / ISBN 13: 9781879969025


Mikhail Horowitz celebrates many traditions musical, literary & theatrical to give voice to a new synthesis on the CD The Blues of the Birth. Right out of the gate, he’s blowing badass madcap internally rhymed bebop lines a capella accompanied by the chomp chomp sounds he utters in “Swingin’ Cicadas.” It’s nutball madhouse & hysterical histrionics, a Lord Buckley tribute of the hip-trippiest order, & through the filter of a Brooklyn-voiced story teller with uncanny skills at dialect, it becomes a Taoist parable about knowing when “it’s time to climb.” Performed live, the audience’s various outbursts of laughter become part of the tale, even more so on the title track.

Opening with a quote of “Round Midnight,” Joe Giardullo’s tenor sax wails bluesy & Horowitz jumps in & establishes a pliant lyrical form: “This is the gorgeous primordial moan of T-Bone Sphinx, a daddy who thinks he’s older than the ringed enigma of the universal magilla,” & we’re off on a ten minute ride way wilder than what came before. After six choruses, Giardullo comes back in wobbling & screeching, & Horowitz flips into a repeating blues form measure that Giardullo punctuates with riffs & squawks. Here are the first two of his thirty-six He-blew choruses: “He blew the yin-yang wormhole whole shebang Big Bang scatter this matter elsewhere blues. He blew the bored head Lord said Let there be light & get outta my sight before I smite thee a boo-boo blues.”

This is the all out/blues-of-the-birth shout, the wild bore/cry-for-more, full tilt/can’t wilt, certifiable Bug City boogie woogie of a Borscht Belt Papa Legba: flingin’ down the ludicrous with stingin’ motherwit, slingin’ Yiddishlekeit parody spoof with mouthful spews of hilarious hoo-doo, wingin’ double masked truth with double meaning mimicry goof & kingin’ a buffoon & an oracle wisdom in one. Peter Schickele writes, “He does with language what Jim Carrey does with his face. His stuff is not only funny, it’s bracingly pungent, surprising, ear-opening & is guaranteed to cleanse your mind of cobwebs.”

Mikhail Horowitz & Gilles Malkine

However, in the third track, “Litany of the Dead,” Horowitz takes us beyond the laughter. With his longtime partner-in-musical-time (check their two CDs: Live, Jive, & Over 45; Poor, On Tour, & Over 54) Gilles Malkine playing quarter notes on the bass, Horowitz opens, his voice pitched between song & spoken lament: “There ain’t no squeeze for Vito Genovese; ain’t no luscious number for Patrice Lumbumba.” For all his elegaic roll call on woe, the mood never goes morbid; rather, like his far-flung, outrageous but inevitable rhymes, he hits the note of death's certainty with flair & savoir-faire.

Sandwiched between two sweet one-minute solo shots (“Art” & “Death”) is “Bird Lives.” It opens like an Impressionist rapture of Spring with Horowitz on sopranino recorder dueting with Jim Finn on flute. As in track three, he turns & returns to the metaphor of jazz as multi-specied & pre-historic: “Yeah, this was back in the Mesozoic, the Mezz Mezzrow-zoic, to be specific. In those days the cats were not cats; they were dinosaurs: black, brown, beige and albino dino.” Comparing their chops with the abundant volcanos (“all of those dinos could blow & what they blew was antique bebop on a spikey array of archaic cornets, ancient basses, antideluvian tubas, proto-trombones and pre-lapsarian saxophones”), Horowitz narrates, interspersed with Finn’s gorgeous flute solos, the allegory of Archie “Bird” Archaeopteryx, a dying dino whose music lives on in all the twittering birds around us.

“Subway” features Joe Giardullo on talking drum dueting with Horowitz; together they create the eerie sensation of riding an uptown express. Although it’s a relatively short track at three and half minutes, it is one of the strongest; beat for syllable, drum & word really do wed into a unity. “CIA,” on the other hand, suggests yet another of his literary roots: the sunnier side of dada & surrealism. “Constantly incognito, almost certainly igniting a covert ion-activating cancer….”

The last track, “Apocalypse Wow,” the most musical & the longest at fifteen minutes, has the whole band blowing: David Arner on piano, Giardullo on bass clarinet & Finn on tenor. “It was 3 a.m. at the CafĂ© Afterlife,” Horowitz begins & weaves a theory about time's simultaneity before revealing that “this is the final send-off of T-Bone Sphinx.” Sax & bass clarinet begin to “answer back” & soon he & the horns are trading eights. A funeral parade ensues, Horowitz narrates over the horns, the piano comps, then the band suddenly lays out as he announces Mocha Java Man & a line-up of players that go all the way back to ancient Egypt & forward to Einstein with the band’s inspired interludes of Sun Ra & New Orleans second line before “the universe blipped & turned itself inside out & bopside down & old solitary T-Bone with meditative delicacy began to improvise once more from a blank score.”

Three of the tracks---“Litany of the Dead,” “Blues of the Birth,” “Apocalypse Wow”---are poems taken from The Opus of Everything in Nothing Flat published by Red Hill/CVS Outloud Books. By comparing the text to the recorded performance, one can better understand the CD’s stunning achievement for Horowitz brings all his gifts of wit, nuance & double entendre as well as what Jud Cost calls “the Gatling-gun word association free fall of Lord Buckley, Lenny Bruce, Jack Kerouac, Ken Nordine, Bob Dylan, Jean Shepherd or Allen Ginsberg.”

Finally, there’s his delivery. His inflection wails wacko wonders a la the great vocalese singers & scatters: Eddie Jefferson, Jon Hendrix, Betty Carter, Mark Murphy, Babs Gonzalez, Ella Fitzgerald. He’s the unforgotten American radio sound in the background, sober as the voice of Carl Sagan but haunted with the ghost of vaudeville. He’s scary nutty like Jonathan Winters or George Carlin & psychedelic like the Firesign Theatre. He treats poetry as recitation, a schtick, a combination of what the jailhouse calls a toast (a rhyming, rolling yarn & tribute) with the multi-voiced impact of a Robin Williams routine. He’s the great-great-great grandson of Walt Whitman & he’s representing the hipster code as deeply dug in compassion & expressive of a sense of wonder, but most primarily, as Jack DeJohnette writes, “His poetry struts, swings, sings, laughs and cries the improvisational harmolodic multidimensional spirit we call jazz.” He brings us ancient to the future, backward-forward to a time most timeless when lyric & note aren’t separate & laughter & insight run together in one continuum of recognition.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Crawling Like a Snail by Yunfei Feng


In the TV series, “The Good Wife,” Alicia Florrick, the main actress, said she needed to deposit a large amount of money in her account, probably $750,000, because her two kids were going to college. A famous lawyer in that series, Alicia won the state’s attorney election in the latest episode and she said the salary of state’s attorney cannot cover her children’s college tuition. Although these words are just the actor’s lines, I believe they reflect the serious challenge that college students and their families are facing.


With the sky-rocketing increase in tuition and dormitory fees nowadays, college graduates routinely begin their working lives deep in debt. They are burdened by these overwhelming debts from the beginning of college life, having no time to take a rest. A survey shows that the total amount for a student without scholarship in college is $60,000 per year, even higher than the average salary of a male who has an undergraduate diploma in America. There is no denying that the tuition is a devastating debt for a middle class family. Furthermore, American families usually have more than one child. Despite more and more females choosing to work in order to enrich their lives and fulfill their dreams, there is a large portion of women who become housewives when they have a baby or get pregnant. If the whole family is only supported financially by the male parent, it is obviously not enough when their children go to college.


Here is a description in the article “The Price of Admission” written by Thomas Frank:

In March 2012, when the Republican front-runner, Mitt Romney, was taking questions at a town-hall meeting in Mahoning Valley, Ohio, a high school senior rose to explain that he was on his way to college, but that he worried about the cost. In response, Romney gave one of his patented lessons in managerial smugness. The solution was to “recognize that college is expensive” but that competition “works.” No “government money” would be forthcoming under his regime. And so it was up to the student-consumer himself to “shop around,” compare the goods offered up in the freewheeling marketplace of educational choice, and make the best decision he could.


When I read this paragraph, I felt angry. The government’s attitude should be changed. The aim of government is to provide benefits and services for its residents. Education should be the basic right for a child. Everyone deserves the opportunity to be educated and absorb various types of knowledge. If a government cannot provide these chances for its citizens, it is not a competent one. When a student is faced with the choice of which university he wants to apply for, he should not focus on money, at least not as the priority. He should choose a place where he can get help to achieve his dream and broaden his horizon. He should choose a place where he can grow up and become a better man. He should choose a place where he learns how to hold the world in his heart and pursue the truth instead of studying hard in order to repay loans.


University life is a period for transformation. Students learn professional knowledge and identify the direction they want their careers to run. They arm themselves with all the information they can get and experiment constantly with new ways to pursue their dreams. They are just like the sun at 8 or 9 o’clock in the morning, warm and lively. They gather strength and prepare everything they will need for future success in college. Being deeply in arrears is not a position which stimulates their will to fight. On the contrary, it is the snail’s shell which can drive students crazy. College students carry heavy debt in the exact same way that snails carry heavy shells and crawl slowly. They will be afraid of the amount of the capital which needs to be invested into their project and deny their original thoughts in order to save some money. They will be timid to dream something big because they cannot afford it. They may give up their favorite major and choose another one because they need to find a well-paid job to repay the debt after graduation. They struggle helplessly in a hard life.

Money isn’t everything. However, it is indeed the key to all doors. Without money, you can do nothing. When all your savings are dispossessed by the “crazy” tuition, you have no wings for dreams. Although there are many favorable policies related to student loans, they cannot solve the basic problem. The tuition has grown too rapidly in recent years. Student loans only delay the problem from erupting for a while. It cannot solve the problem ultimately. If the tuition keeps growing, the problem will be fuelled and is going to be worse.

In my opinion, government should be responsible for the “horrible” tuition. Universities are not merchandise put on the shelves waiting to be bought in the market. Governors should not request students to choose their universities from the position of being consumers. I don’t agree with what Mr. Romney said in the meeting: “Consumers shop around, they compare and contrast, and they get the best deal they can, reassured all the while by their awareness that competition works. Just don’t come whining to the government for help” (Frank). Applying to universities is one of the most important decisions in a student’s life. It is just like the process of choosing a spouse. The “personality” and “ability” should be considered first, not the costs. That is the reason why we need a government---to protect its citizens and guarantee their basic human rights. Relevant policy should be legislated to control the growing cost of tuition according to the inflation and the economy. Combined with the GDP and the average income in each state, government should recommend corresponding tuition for each university and stipulate that the floating between the actual tuition and the recommend one cannot excess a certain range.


Besides, the Departments of Education and Treasury should cooperate and supervise the flow of funds in each university. Colleges should report their expenditure at the end of each year to these departments and make a detailed budget at the beginning of next year. If there is something unreasonable, government can take measures to rectify the situation. Schools should control expenditure and publish important decisions and donations regularly to the students and parents. If a college wants to make a pivotal assessment like building a stadium or other infrastructure which will cost a lot of money, they should convene the students’ representatives, analyze the advantages and disadvantages for them, ask for their opinions, let them be a part of the decision committee and vote for the proposal. Students should be informed where their money is going and become part of the decision-making process.


Frank also notes that twenty years ago, the Department of Justice charged the Ivy League universities and MIT with conspiring to restrict financial-aid awards, and thus to fix prices. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh even called the schools a “collegiate cartel.” The Ivies settled immediately after the suit was filed in 1991, signing a consent decree that forbade them to collude over tuition, salary, or financial-aid awards, but I should mention that the decree expired in 2001. Looking back from twenty years on, it’s clear that the Ivy League schools did little to keep their promise. Some believe it may have driven costs even higher. All these famous universities regard their prestige as a selling point based on the common sense that we live in a “knowledge economy” and the diploma from prestigious school is the credential towards a successful career and happy life. As rational people, we should realize that the college degree and the brand of world-famous universities is not the conclusive element of our lives. What really matter is who we are. The abilities and qualities we own are the genuine gems, not the degree. The diploma cannot represent anything and is only a souvenir of the most beautiful days in our lives. It isn’t a pledge which will win success. You need to win your success by yourself. From this point, there is no reason for us to pay so much for the prestige. The training system and the teachers in these famous schools may be one of the keys to cultivate the best students, leaders and millionaires, but the most critical factor is your intelligence, hard-working manner and creativity. If we can change our mind and pay more attention on the improvement of our own abilities instead of pursuing the prestige of school in order to satisfy our vanity, the tendency of tuition increasing may be slowed down even restrained.


The unreasonable tuition is a nightmare for many students and their families, and it should be controlled immediately. Only in this way, can more young people get the chance to be educated and allow the country to become better and wealthier.


Works Cited

Frank, Thomas. “The Price of Admission” Harper's Magazine. June 2012. Web.


Yunfei Feng is now a senior student in China. Upon receiving her bachelor's degree in July, 2016, she will work as a junior data analytics specialist in Shanghai for Opera Solutions Corporation. Two years later, she hopes to apply for a master’s program in the USA.