The “Doodlemeister” comic by Jeff Whitman printed on Tuesday, March 6 was distasteful. Mr. Whitman might be hoping for a Pulitzer, but he is no Steve Breen (c/o ’92, notable alum, Highlander cartoonist, two-time Pulitzer). To say this comic stunk like a skunk would do a huge disservice…to skunks. As part of the staff team that has been directly responsible for most of the school spirit initiatives in the last five-plus years (including Tartan Soul, face paint, most spirit cheers and more UCR apparel campus-wide), we are devastated that not only would Mr. Whitman choose to pen this comic, but that the Highlander (a paper I wrote for many years ago) would choose to print it.

If Mr. Whitman himself chooses to be a self-hating Highlander, then he is welcome to that opinion. However, he should not subject the rest of us to his own resentment at being at one of the premiere institutions of higher education in the country. UCR is a campus of the UC system, and the UC is widely respected worldwide. The educational and co-curricular experiences and the benefit that a UC degree bestows upon the recipient are top-notch!

This comic was 1) not funny, 2) unnecessary, and 3) demoralizing. The 21,000+ students, staff and faculty that enjoy UC Riverside on a daily basis shouldn’t have to open their campus newspaper and be made to feel like they made a bad choice. They didn’t, but the Highlander did when it let that comic get published! Just because something is submitted to the Opinions section does not mean it needs to get printed. The Highlander has a community obligation not to print such garbage; besides nobody would ever read a paper called “The Mosquito.”

Mr. Whitman and the Highlander staff should think about this: of the 21,000+ active members of the Highlander family, there are countless individuals who serve as peer mentors, orientation leaders, RAs, tutors and SI leaders, students involved in campus activities, etc. who both absolutely love it here and work tirelessly to make sure that other students do too. Anytime someone from our own campus community says a disparaging remark about the campus as a whole, all of our morale is affected.

UCR students’ school pride has increased dramatically within the last five-plus years. Why? Is it the fight song/alma mater taught to students during Highlander Orientation? The face paint, temporary tattoos, kilt and other Tartan Wear and the overwhelming growth in UCR apparel worn campus-wide? The significant decline in other universities’ apparel worn here? The efforts of a lot of individuals committed to the success and reputation of UCR and the great experiences and lasting memories formed here by students can be completely and utterly derided by the bitter opinion of one student and an erroneous editorial decision.

So if you still don’t believe that UCR is awesome, here are some facts: We consistently have high numbers of professors elected to membership in the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS).  Also, UCR is becoming increasingly selective and is increasingly the university of choice for the majority of students enrolled here. UCOP records indicate that UCR had the 3rd highest percentage yield rate of students offered admission that actually SIR’d to UCR (behind only UCLA and Berkeley).  Furthermore, attendance at athletic events has increased (both average fans and total fans per game) for all sports completed so far this year, including a 100% increase in men’s soccer.  Campus event attendance is also skyrocketing, events are more appealing and many concerts, for example, draw crowds from all over California, in addition to record-breaking UCR student crowds as recently as the Bonfire-Homecoming 2012.

UCR has been ranked 6th in the nation in diversity (perpetually 1st among the UC campuses), 25th on the “Great Values, Great Prices” list, 44th among national public universities, 55th by “Best Undergraduate Business Programs,” 82nd by “Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs” and 97th overall among 262 national universities, public or private.

If Mr. Whitman wants to be a “Sucking Mosquito”, he should Google universities with that mascot and transfer. The UCR community has over 85,000 proud alumni and a ton of students that are incredibly excited/energetic/happy to be here, plus tens of thousands more just dying to be admitted every year.

The fact is, UCR does not suck, nor do its students, staff, faculty and alumni. What does suck is that we still have to fight off the haters. Here’s the deal: you’re here and UCR is incredibly awesome. All of you are too! You only get out of this experience what you put into it, so, “Go Big or Go Home.”

Proud to be Highlanders!

Scott C. Silverman, Ed.D. (UCR Alum: B.S. ’01 and M.S. ’04)
Associate Director, University Honors

Adam Ryen Daniels, M.A.
Student Organizations/Orientation Advisor, Student Life