All Native American students get into college easily and for free, right? Hardly. But it’s a common misconception among the uneducated populace, many of whom also think all Indians are wealthy from casino money.
Case in point: On Saturday, March 29, the Wall Street Journal posted a letter titled “To (All) the Colleges That Rejected Me,” in which Taylor Allderdice High School senior Suzy Lee Weiss, who by her own admission offers “about as much diversity as a saltine cracker,” complains about not getting accepted into her dream college.
She blames this on colleges advising applicants to “Just be yourself.”
“That is great advice, as long as yourself has nine extracurriculars, six leadership positions, three varsity sports, killer SAT scores and two moms,” Weiss says.
She also points to her lack of diversity as a factor in her not being accepted.
“Had I known two years ago what I know now, I would have gladly worn a headdress to school. Show me to any closet, and I would've happily come out of it,” Weiss says. “I would've been any of the diversities: Navajo, Pacific Islander, anything. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, I salute you and your 1/32 Cherokee heritage.”
Besides egregiously insulting sacred spiritual regalia, Weiss’s comments belie the experience of Native college students, who work just as hard to get into college as their “saltine” counterparts.
Just ask Dwanna L. Robertson, a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, who detailed her experience in “Shame the Scholarship System, Not Native Students” in September 2012.
“Either my standardized test scores were too low, or I didn't do enough community service,” she says about trying to apply for scholarships to help pay for college. “I worked my way through two master’s degrees. Now, as a doctoral student, everyone thinks my tribe pays for everything! My wonderful Nation is not rich, and I've received no money from them.”
Does Weiss even have to be concerned with applying for scholarships? Her parents’ $700,000, four-bedroom Pittsburgh home was featured in a 2011 Wall Street Journal article about luxury real estate—hardly a red flag for fiscal neediness.
Maybe she could share her good fortune instead of watching “The Real Housewives,” but she seems to despise doing charity work as much as all the hobbies she also rejected.
“I've never sat down at a piano, never plucked a violin. Karate lasted about a week and the swim team didn’t last past the first lap,” she says. “I should’ve done what I knew was best—go to Africa, scoop up some suffering child, take a few pictures, and write my essays about how spending that afternoon with Kinto changed my life. Because everyone knows that if you don’t have anything difficult going on in your own life, you should just hop on a plane so you’re able to talk about what other people have to deal with.”
Despite not getting into her dream college, Weiss was accepted into a “Big 10” school.
“I guess I was just disappointed because I had the prerequisites to get into these name brand schools and I was just a rat in the rat race and I guess I was just the slowest rat of them all, so I didn’t make it,” she told WSJ Live. The program’s reporter was supportive, saying she hoped Weiss would be getting calls from schools wanting to reconsider their rejections.
“Her foul comments are illogical. Were it that easy for a Native American to get into college you’d have more educated Natives, now wouldn’t you?” said Simon Moya-Smith, a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation, a graduate student at Columbia Journalism School and correspondent for ICTMN. “Sadly, she’s the next generation of white ignorance.”
While a number of reader comments on the Wall Street Journal site were supportive of Weiss’s letter, people weren’t so nice when it was picked apart on Gawker. Many called her racist, homophobic and lazy—though there was nary a mention of her misperceptions regarding Native heritage.