This last Monday, Case Western Reserve University received two tons of fully grown English ivy, which will be shipped and glued to the walls of numerous buildings across campus over the course of the next two weeks. The installation of the ivy is intended to increase the prestige of the university to potential students, and will come at a cost of about $2 million.
“We want Case to be the best; and when people think the best, they think Ivy League,” President Barbara Snyder said in an interview last Saturday. “And how can you be Ivy League without ivy?”
When asked about the decision to glue the ivy up, she said “It would be nice if the ivy would grow in naturally; but the kind of foliage that says ‘established’ doesn’t grow in overnight. We want big ivy, and we want it now.”
The ivy is only one part of a larger effort to make CWRU more closely resemble an ‘old-money’ East Coast school. Calling CWRU’s history as a merger of Case Technical and Western Reserve “confusing” and “not marketable,” Snyder says she hopes the school will adopt an alternate history.
“From now on, Case Western Reserve University has always been a single school,” she said. “It was founded in 1796, which would make it one of the first colleges in the United States, had it actually been within the United States’ boundaries at the time.”
Further efforts to increase CWRU’s prestige have included posthumously declaring seven presidents graduates, changing the name of Clark Tower to St. Alaistair of Devonshire-upon-Gilford-McGillighenhy, and eroding several stone and brick buildings with a seawater-filled power washer. CWRU is also spending $1.5 million to build a fully authentic 18th century building, and then another $1.2 million to immediately replace electricity with gaslights and to introduce asbestos into the walls.
Students have expressed favorable opinions of the effort. “Aside from the hiccup with the poison ivy, the installation is going well,” one of the workers said. “But we still haven’t figured out how to get the ivy to stick to Tinkham Veale.”