Adcom, would you accept this man? Or at least spare him a sloppy joe?
Editor’s Note: A couple weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal put a challenge to some university presidents: write a response to your school’s admissions essay prompt. Heartbreakingly, our own John DeGioia was not one of the respondents. Inspired by WSJ, though, Vox asked Georgetown Heckler Editor and noted DeGioia impressionist Jack Stuef to imagine what his response would have been like.
Georgetown’s Prompt: The Admissions Committee would like to know more about you in your own words. Please submit a brief essay, either personal or creative, which you feel best describes you.
I was sitting on a veranda sipping wine with Chinese Minister of Education Zhou Ji when he asked me a question similar to this prompt. He’d just told me a little bit of his own background.
“I would like to know more about you in words that are your own,” Ji said, finally out of earshot of his wife and concubine. “Submit, please, some words that best describe you.”
“Well, I don’t know, Ji,” I replied, staring off into the Beijing fog. “Does it have to be personal?”
He consulted with his advisors and phoned the Party official who governed the region and open-ended questions asked within it. “It can be personal or creative,” he said.
“Well then, Ji, I’m not much different from you,” I chuckled. “I sit in my office and hope nobody notices me until I have to make a call or go to an event, smile a lot, and babble some vaguely agreeable nothings to the crowd.”
“Yes, but who are you, Dr. DeGioia?” he asked. “It’s obvious from you being here in China that you are a very worldly and important person that any university, such as, say, Georgetown University, would be lucky to have as a student, but I want to know about the man inside your rodent-like exterior.”
I’ll tell you what I told Ji. It’s impossible to describe myself in things so rigid as words! To illustrate the nuanced nature of my personality, I’ll have to use numbers.
You should have found a page of circular stickers of different colors included with my application. If you haven’t already, pass those around the table and have everybody put on one of each color until you’re out of stickers. Put them on your arms or something so you can see them easily. (Unless you’ve got on long sleeves, of course, you sillyhead!)
Got the stickers on? Good. I bet this is turning out to be your most exciting application essay ever!
Now, stand up if you have a red sticker. Seven of you should be standing up, unless you decided to accept Todd Olson’s application instead and are sabotaging me. Okay everyone, look around you. These seven people represent the seven sloppy joes I eat every day. Think about that. Seven sloppy joes. Every day. Have you thought about that? Good. Please be seated.
Could everyone with a yellow sticker stand? Two of you are now standing. You represent the over two decades it took me to rise through the ranks from lowly hall director up to the top until I was the least controversial and least interesting lay candidate for the president job. Think about that. A life of unremitting blandness, avoiding saying or doing anything to which anyone could possibly object, just to reach the summit, where you have to be just as boring. And somehow picking up a doctorate along the way. I know you all probably want to follow my careful path of mediocrity to the presidency, so I’ll give you one tip: be Catholic! Okay, you can sit down, thanks.
Those with a green sticker, please stand up. Only one of you is standing, right? Now everyone go to McDonough Gymnasium. There yet? You’ll see my office has hired over 4,000 people to sit there waiting for you. See them? Good. The person with the sticker represents the one university in the U.S. that gets to have me as its president! Think about that. Isn’t that a good one? My psychotherapist gave me that one. She usually works with children, but I find her a little less threatening. Anyway, tell the people in the gym they can leave. And go find the basketball team out on the tennis courts and tell them they can have their court back. Then sit down.
Finally, stand if you have an orange sticker on you. Oh look, that’s all of you. Who do you represent? Yourselves! So, maybe you don’t accept me. I understand that. I could get into Georgetown 30 years ago, but probably not now. However, if you don’t send me an acceptance letter, I might lock myself in my office, go under my desk, and cry the day away. And then maybe one of my assistants will hear me bawling, put his key in the door, come to my desk, crouch down, and ask me what’s wrong. And maybe I’ll tell him nothing, it’s just… it’s just stupid. People are stupid. And he’ll be like, “C’mon, Dr. DeGioia, what happened?” And he’ll give me some tissues, go get me an emergency sloppy joe, and in between sniffles I’ll tell him you denied my application. And he’ll cheer me up by calling in some favors, calling in some blackmail, and suddenly, oh no, the Admissions Committee doesn’t have jobs! Think about that. Do you want to hurt my feelings, orange sticker people? Huh? You do? Oh… Hmm. Well, I’m very sorry. Sorry, everybody. Really sorry. Never said anything like that before. Sorry.
Umm. Diversity in action! Interreligious understanding. Cura personalis. Working group. You may be seated.