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Gangelin, Paul; Hanson, Earl; Gregory, Horace (ed.) / The Wisconsin literary magazine
Volume XXI, Number 6 (March 1922)

What do you think of Wisconsin?,   p. 139


Page 139

WISCONSIN LITERARY MAGAZINE
What Do You Think of Wisconsin?
EDITOR'S NOTE.-The foreigners at Wisconsin play
very little part in our lives; we neg-
lect them utterly as we scurry about on our own affairs.
We are more English than the English in our cool lack
of interest in people who are not of us. We do not
even think about them, about what opinions they hold
of us and the University. Students who have come
here from other countries, on the other hand, have not,
as the very expressive slang phrase has it, "gone dumb
on the world." They still react to their environment
-they criticize us and our manners; they see weak-
nesses which we cannot discern because we have eaten
of the American lotus.
To give these people who see us with a stranger's
eyes an opportunity to express their reactions and opin-
ions, the LIT has secured a series of short papers from
men and women ranging from Latvia to the Philippine
Islands. We are presenting them in the following
pages, and we regret only that time did not allow ex-
tending the series further.
THE COMPLEXITY OF WISCONSIN.
ISMAEL MALLARI, Philippine Islands.
I should have written my Wisconsin impressions
during the first semester of my freshman year, when
the novelty and glamor of the place and of the people
had not yet worn off, when the mere mention of the
Class Rush and the Varsity Welcome set my whole
being a-tingle. Then the mental picture suggested
to me by the word "Wisconsin" was vivid, color-
ful, almost hectic.  Now a coat of gray has been
brushed over it. Then, with an intense sincerity in
my heart, I could glorify the wonderful college spirit
and the democratic principles which guide the young
people of the university.
I still believe in the college spirit. Its physical
manifestations, at least, are evident.  But where can
we find democracy? According to what I have ob-
served and what people have told me, class lines are
infinitely better defined here than even in my own
country where classes are said to exist. In the univer-
sity, of course, members of different classes meet and
sit on the same bleachers in the stadium; but at home
we talk to servants, too. I cannot criticize class dis-
tinction.  Different individuals have different abilities,
and the "social ladder" is a phenomenon which may
be expected in any big society.  But why refer to an
ideal as if it were a reality?
What is the position of foreigners in this intricate
social system?  I am talking particularly of those be-
longing to "inferior races." Why, they do not belong
to it at all. They form a class by themselves. A
foreigner is more or less a curiosity, and people exam-
ine him as anyone would examine a painting or an
oriental rug. His social position is not questioned,
but his ignorance of western civilization-the acme,
of course  is taken for granted until the contrary is
proved.  In a few instances he will be befriended, but
as a general rule he is merely a peculiar species of
humanity with dark skin, glossy hair, the ability to
dance and quote Shakespeare, and money enough to
come to school.
In all cases, of course, the foreigner is the gainer.
He meets all kinds of people,-the fastidious, the
careless, the diplomatic, the frank, the idealists and
the materialists. He meets people whose pride is in
their money, people whose pride is in their looks, peo-
ple whose pride is in their honorary keys, people whose
pride is in their genealogical connection to the fabled
"Mayflower."
This contact with people is, perhaps, the greatest
thing that the university can offer; I call it the "course
of the humanities."  It is a very exciting course, and
March, 1922
139


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