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"[The stereotype is] that people here just smoke pot and talk about Buddhism, but I'm pretty positive I haven't had one conversation about Buddhism."
The Insider's Guide to the Colleges regarding the Evergreen State College

A school stereotype that permits assumptions about the type of student the school will attract. Knowing the character attends a particular school implies a set of characteristics.

The schools used for this fall into the following categories:


Schools that have a stereotype of a very left-wing education.

"Shameless" is simply not enough to describe this school. It's is filled with nudists, Granola Girls demanding you go vegan, Hollywood Atheists who get furious at the mere mention of something vaguely religious and won't hesitate to tell you you're a deluded fundie who believes in an Invisible Sky Wizard Fascist who Doesn't Believe In Rationality, stoners, Straw Nihilists, angry socialists/communists/anarchists/your choice of far-left radicals spending most of their time plotting to overthrow Western civilization if they're not fighting each other on how truly leftist they are, pissed-off black nationalists and/or similarly militant minorities who really hate white students and/or minorities not their own, angry radical feminists who see sexism everywhere and will fight you (and each other) over your role in enforcing gender norms (or even not enforcing gender norms), irritating, pretentious, elitist hipsters wearing risible fashions and sneering at "the mainstream" (anything not their art, really), radical postmodernist philosophers who claim everything up to basic logic itself is but a social construct and/or systemic oppression, angry marijuana-toking nihilist anarchosocialist-communist anti-white radfeminist hipster Nudist artists. The faculty will be all of the above — just with pieces of paper saying they're better educated. And they'll probably throw nudist parties with weed.

Every third storefront will be a coffeehouse or bar stuffed to the brim with atheist nihilists Wangsting about everything, or pretentious beatniks explaining how true their incomprehensible art is. The city council is packed with people who pass truly absurd ordinances, keep out big businesses that could improve the town, and harass anyone who disagrees with the left-wing politics of the city will into leaving, just after they finish decriminalizing weed.

Real schools used to invoke this one:

  • The entire University of California gets this rap:
    • University of California, Berkeley, of course. Useful for radical-left political flavoring.note note 
    • UC Santa Cruz belongs to an already famously progressive town (the town denied permission to the Navy to operate there, and forbade the police to press drug charges against marijuana smokers — especially if smoking in public, and has the largest 420 gathering in Northern California).
    • UC Santa Barbara is infamous for the fiery destruction of a Bank of America building, after a peaceful protest against the company spiraled into an all-out riot. Since then, it's become better known for its party scene than its politics, but it has cropped up at the forefront of national issues, specifically mass shootings and the incel movement with the 2014 Isla Vista shooting near the campus,note  and the housing crisis with plans to build Munger Hallnote  for this campus.
    • Even the newer UCs aren't immune, as UC Irvine had an incident where the black students' club chained themselves together and marched into the student council meeting to protest a racist incident perpetrated by an Asian-American frat. That being said, UCLA has received praise for promoting free speech, averting a major part of the stereotype (especially since the source (FIRE) has more than a few right wing connections).
  • Wellesley College — This one is handy if you need a Straw Feminist overtone.
    • any of the Seven Sisters—Wellesley, Mount Holyoke, Smith, Bryn Mawr, Barnard, Radcliffe (assimilated by Harvard), and Vassar (now co-ed)—will suffice.
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor — Great for pegging the character as an activist. Actually active, that is, rather than just slinging the activist lingo. Good one for anti-animal testing shenanigans.
  • The University of Glasgow in Scotland fits the political part of this but not really the pretentiousness bit. That would be St Andrews or Edinburgh.
  • Reed College in Portland, Oregon — they only tell students their grades if specifically asked, the administration has an extremely lax drug-use policy even for hyper-progressive Portland, and about half of their traditions are weird hippie in-jokes. More infamously, a student group called Reedies Against Racism (RAR) protested and harassed humanities professors and guest speaker Kimberly Peirce, accusing them of promoting racism and bigotry.note 
  • The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington — does not assign grades to students at all in favor of "narrative evaluations,"note  many of the courses offered are political in nature, and there are no "departments" like you'd see at other schools — all classes are a form of "integrated studies" which approach a single issue from several different academic angles, with freshmen and seniors often in the same class. Professors are addressed by first name most of the time. The school operates an organic farm and a nonprofit vegetarian restaurant staffed and operated by unpaid volunteers who manage cooperatively.note  Briefly enjoyed national attention when a campus-wide protest over racial injustices prompted students to denounce certain faculty who opposed said protest (including then-biology professor Bret Weinsteinnote ), which devolved to the point that, reportedly, roving bands of armed students began searching the campus and surrounding area for dissenters. Pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie is among the college's alumni.
  • The University of Colorado Boulder — Much like UC-Berkeley. A progressive college in a progressive enclave in a comparatively moderate state, referred to as "nine square miles surrounded by reality". Ward Churchill (he of the infamous essay alleging that the 9/11 victims were "little Eichmanns") was a professor here, and like UC-Santa Cruz, it has a large pothead population, and endorses a Halloween nudist run where revellers will wear nothing but jack-o'-lanterns on their heads, which annoys the local police to no end. It is an oddity in the University of Colorado system, since its sister school, UC Colorado Springs, is more known for being a haven for nerdy STEM students and business majors, and UC Denver is known for a high percentage of art students.
  • Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos from Perú, The National University of Saint Mark; alongside with the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Pontifical Catholic University of Peru are amongst the most known examples in the aforementioned country. That said, the behaviour mentioned above is associated mostly with the arts and literature faculties of each university whilst the engineering and science departments go in the opposite direction.
  • Virginia Commonwealth University in the state's capital of Richmond, particularly its School of Arts, is known for its highly liberal use of drugs and high amount of hipsters.
  • George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia— Outside of their prestigious School of Economics, has enough dyed-hair feminists and such a diverse student body to be known as the Tumblr of Virginia schools. Being near the super progressive District of Columbia certainly helps.
  • Kent State University in Kent, Ohio — Popular for antiwar-style liberals, thanks to the 1970 National Guard shooting that killed four students.
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison — likewise a history of 1960s Vietnam-era activism, long called "Berkeley of the Midwest."
  • Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio has a reputation for "progressive activism" where students were known to adorn the interior hallways with left-wing graffiti. Or, as Aileen LeBlanc of NPR's All Things Considered put it, "The college stands proudly as a progressive place, with a reputation of breeding beatnik, toxic, hippie, gay, New Age, vegan weirdoes." And she was being sympathetic. The college was closed from June 2008 to October 2011 for "restructuring."
  • Although many religious colleges fit easily into the Jim Jonestown University mold described below, a few don't:
    • Augsburg University (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is quite left-wing (hell, its parent church is basically a In Name Only evangelical church). It has enough of a diverse student body to be termed as the Twitter of religious universities, and one of its campus organizations is a college branch of Amnesty International. Susan Allen, the first openly lesbian Native American to win election to a state legislature, was a student here.
    • Ashland University (Brethren Church) in Ashland, Wisconsin, is fairly left-wing. One of the largest majors offered there is in Toxicology/Environmental Sciences.
    • Bard College (Episcopal Church) in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York is fairly left-wing, and has contributed to social justice campaigns, including a prison education campaign. It tends to be more famous for its alumni, which includes Donald Fagen and Walter Becker of Steely Dan and Adam Yauch of The Beastie Boys.
    • Earlham College (Religious Society of Friends — i.e. the Quakers) in Richmond, Indiana, is so left-wing that everybody is addressed by their first name — calling an instructor 'Mister', 'Ms.', 'Professor' or 'Doctor' So-and-So is definitely frowned upon.note  Students are often at odds with the local and regional Yearly Meetings (the Quaker equivalent of a synod) over sexuality and drinking. (In case you're wondering, the Yearly Meetings are against both.)
    • Mexico has its Jesuit universities: the Iberoamerican Universities (Mexico City, León, Puebla and Torreón), the Pacific Loyola University in Acapulco, the ITESO in Guadalajara, and the Ayuuk Intercultural Higher Education Institute — the last one's name comes from the lectures and courses being literally taught in the local ayuuk language.
  • The University of the Philippines (or UP for short) in metropolitan Manila, Philippines has gained a reputation as a hotbed for activists and radicals spanning the entire political spectrum. Historically, it has been stereotyped as being both Communist and far-left, though with their ideological rivals very close behind.
    • It's worth noting that UP's reputation—rightly or wrongly—of harbouring radical left-leaning nationalism, up to and including Communist thought, is an almost complete inversion of its own image in The '50s and earlier, when the same university was held up as an example of rigorously conservative and pro-American ideological types. There were even powerful organisations allied with the Catholic hierarchy, and campus witch-hunts against left-leaning students and facultyjust like in the States! It Makes Sense in Context though, because UP was originally founded by the Americans themselves, in the early days of the Philippines as a formal U.S. colonial possession, and in The '50s, though a nominally "independent" nation, the Philippines was still far under the shadow of American influence that wanted an iron guarantee of its allies' loyalties—it was, after all, the Cold War.
  • The University of Texas at Austin is noted for this, as Austin is very famously a weird and progressive place. It's somewhat unclear whether the university is weird because it's in Austin or the city is weird because UT is in it. Either way it often gets contrasted with Texas A&M.
  • The University of Kansas. Its home city, Lawrence, has a long tradition of being a progressive bastion in deeply-conservative Kansas, going back to its abolitionist roots in the Civil War.
  • The University of Missouri: in 2015, protests erupted over a swastika drawn in feces on a bathroom wall. This eventually spiraled out of control; professor Melissa Click threatened a student journalist who was attempting to cover the demonstrations, and bogus rumors about the KKK appearing on campus began to circulate. This damaged Mizzou's reputation, as enrollment and donations saw a remarkable decline in the aftermath.
  • Sarah Lawrence College, in Yonkers, New York, is strongly left-wing, and has been attacked by many right-wing pundits for its focus on social justice.
  • Williams College in Massachusetts is often seen as this. A biology professor complained of many student protests against her curriculum, and the school newspaper declared its main mission to be social justice.

St. Jim Jonestown Academy

Schools that have a stereotype of a very right-wing education.

A Boarding School of Horrors run by the harshest, most conservative Corrupt Church imaginable and their goons, bordering on fascism. Infested with Sinister Ministers and fundamentalists who constantly teach lies and intolerance in the classroom and will give the worst punishments to those who even think otherwise, and Moral Guardians blaming the downfall of America on the lack of Jesus and the presence of boobs on TV. The students are small-minded Bible thumpers that are scared of any technology more advanced than a radio. The teachers are ultra-capitalist economic professors who think anything vaguely leftist is "communist" and that poor people deserve to die. Most of the men are Jerk Jocks who won't pass up the opportunity to spew racist and homophobic slurs at every opportunity, and are more concerned with football/hockey/some kind of "real" sport than anything else (besides disgusting hazing rituals, physical escalations of the aforementioned slur-spewing bigotry, and getting protected by the local cops after ruining some local student's life). Most of the women are shrieking harpies who think anything above the knees is Satan's clothing and sneer at anyone who doesn't adhere to gender norms as "people playing out a fetish", accusing any vaguely liberal woman of being attention-seeking gender traitors, enabling the men to abuse women, and also running disgusting hazing rituals and terrorising people outside of their cliques like it's high school. The rest of the students are thinly-veiled neo-Nazis who blame everything on the Jews, Good Ol' Boys hoping to go into the government for tax breaks and kickbacks while further destroying social programs, hoping to destroy any "socialist" or "cultural marxist" threat to the Good Old Ways or to bomb them commies, and ignoramuses who think Islam is a race and every black person is from the ghetto. The faculty and students will often be incredibly racist, sexist, and/or homophobic, and anyone who doesn't fit into the herd gets beaten down — literally, in some cases. Contractual Purity is required of students and faculty alike, both on and off campus. For students, it may be literally a contractual requirement, depending on the school.

Anyone who has half a brain turns out to be a Stepford Smiler, Holier Than Thou, Ax-Crazy, or Holier-Than-Thou Ax Crazy Stepford Smilers. The city council will be packed with oppressive right-wingers who want to eject anyone who dares to suggest toning any of this down. Being a historic university, its founding charter frequently comes with a long and detailed list of complex bylaws and regulations which just seem tailor-made for the Dean to abuse our plucky heroes. Whatever police or deans are there will often cover up for anyone committing heinous deeds - especially if it's the (very male) college sports team.

Schools in this continuum:

  • Horrifically Truth in Television in Victorian Britain. Boarding schools were not a Victorian innovation, but the institution was embraced as a means of counteracting the softening, emasculating influence of mothers and preparing young men for the harsh rigors of the world of business and Empire. The move to purposefully harsh institutions as a solution to parental mollycoddling took place in the context of the early-mid Victorian love of childhood and doting parenthood, which it was later feared would render the new generation of the better sort of people — i.e. the middle and upper classes — too soft to maintain Anglo supremacy. Thus, boarding schools were intended to break the attendants and thus prevent them from becoming 'soft' and/or homosexual. More specifically they would instill discipline and self-discipline, deference to authority, strict morals, a vague sense of the Christian religion, and teamwork. This was of course in addition to all the usual things one expects a public school (a school open to the paying public as opposed to a private school, which was more exclusive) to do. To make a long story short, the architects of of this system were great admirers of Sparta — enough said.
  • Religious schools that primarily turn out pastors and missionaries (Bob Jones, Regent, Oral Roberts, Brigham Young, etc.).
    • All of these schools (except BYU) are rather infamous for their morality codes which threaten summary expulsion for the heinous crimes of fraternizing with the opposite sex (or indeed the same sex, which is infinitely worse), dressing in immodest clothing, drinking alcohol, listening to contemporary music or getting an unconventional haircut. BYU has a morality code, but it's more concerned with things that go against Mormon beliefs, mainly alcohol, tobacco, and especially sex outside marriage. As for the other schools mentioned, Regent tends to be a tiny bit more laid-back than the others, mostly because a large proportion of the school is graduate students in secular fields such as law, government, communications, and business.note 
    • Liberty University used to merit inclusion on this list, but in the new millennium and particularly since the passing of founder Jerry Falwell it has become a lot more laid-back on issues like clothing, tattoos and piercings, and other personal style choices. Drinking, drugs, sex outside marriage and NC-17 or X-rated movies are still off-limits, though. By the mid-to-late-2010s, virtually all of these schools have scaled back their dress code. It's still stricter than at non-religious universities, and it is still enforces right-wing politics to a great extent, to the point of firing its social media managers for supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement.
  • Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (Pontifical Catholic University of Peru) is a private university that has this characteristic with granola girls in the mix.
    • Worth noting though that PUCP has such politically left-wing tendencies note  that it's been disciplined and (allegedly) stripped of its titles by The Church (though with Pope Francis, reconciliation is on the way). PUCP is both types of Strawman U at once!
  • Deep South schools big and small can get this treatment (Washington and Lee, Tennessee, South Carolina, Ole Miss).
  • Texas A&Mnote  gets a big (not exactly unwarranted) reputation for this, especially compared to its more progressive and diverse neighbor/rival, The University of Texas at Austin. Until 1960, it was closed to women and minorities (then again, 'liberal' colleges such as Harvard were closed to women as well) and required all students to train as reserve officers in the Army (ROTC, basically). Even after the end of that requirement, A&M's Corps of Cadets is far larger than the average and A&M remains one of the most conservative schools in the country.
  • Mexico has the Pan-American University, where law students are never once taught about divorce procedure, you're required to show up to your exams wearing a three-piece suit, you must always behave like a distinguished member of the elite in and outside of campus, you must always go to church every single Sunday and confess yourself regularly. They view Jesuit colleges as full of unruly potheads.
    • Monterrey Tech (ITESM), the National Polytechnical Institute (IPN) and the Autonomous University of Guadalajara are conservative too, albeit in a more filthy-rich-right-wing way.
  • Historically, many famous universities were of this variety to different degrees. Many once had requirements much like those of private American Christian universities today, if not more-faculty and students had to make strict statements of faith, dissenting views were not tolerated. Even what are now stereotypically progressive universities like Harvard started this way - it was founded by a Puritan, who denounced secular education in general. Oxford University forbade Isaac Newton joining the faculty because of his heterodox beliefs (denying the Trinity) - in fact it required faculty to be Anglican priests, which he wasn't. Newton joined only after being granted special dispensation. Trinity College Dublin was founded by Elizabeth I, permitting Anglicans only for centuries (when Ireland was - as it remains - majority Catholic). In response to the university removing the restriction on Catholics, the Catholic bishops banned them from enrolling in the university without special dispensation. "The Ban", as it was known, was only repealed in 1970.
Note that the two former examples are generic higher education institutions which give academic education but do not prepare for any profession. There may be a third example of an academy, which would prepare for academic professions, especially engineering:

Sokal Institute of Rock-Hard Sciences and Technology

If you want to Take a Third Option by combining the left-wing and right-wing flavors under one roof.

A shamelessly intellectually elitist Ivy League for Everyone which is just as shamelessly Hard on Soft Science. This academy concentrates on hard natural sciences as well as engineering and industrial management, with possible faculties of economy, business and law. Expect a lot of tech-savvy nerds and Geeks, including sizable Asian (from both East and South Asia) and Jewish contingents. These guys certainly won't think Everybody Hates Mathematics or Science Is Useless. Expect a lot of Hollywood Atheist and Straw Nihilist types, often overlapping with Mad Scientist. If the academy has a faculty for law, the Amoral Attorney is omnipresent. The teaching staff will include the Absent-Minded Professor with Einstein Hair, Mad Scientist professors aiming for Nobel prizes, Engineers who absolutely despise anyone not them (and show their displeasure by pulling complicated MIT-style pranks on their less-than-enlightened fellows, either non-hard science majors or unfortunate students from Berserkeley and Jim Jonestown) and the occasional Omnidisciplinary Scientist. Everyone will wear a Labcoat of Science and Medicine. Libertarian right-wing politics will predominate, but not religion, as everyone will claim to have Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions and assert that Belief Makes You Stupid. If the university has a faculty of Economics, expect it to be horribly elitist and ultra-industrialist right wing.

The alumni will look frowningly downwards both the Berserkeley and St. Jim Jonestown Academy, considering themselves both morally and intellectually superior to them. Needless to say, the Berserkeley will loathe them as elitist techbro pricks destroying the environment and lower-class and St. Jim Jonestown as amoral Commie Nazi Progressive nerds. Especially the Berserkeley alumni will consider anyone graduating here having a Morally Ambiguous Doctorate. Expect many of the alumni being Corrupt Corporate Executive and Amoral Attorney types.

Life outside studies consists of getting intoxicated and performing hacks and pranks. And, of course, MacGyvering things. Every other dorm looks like a complex maze of adjoined Hacker Caves built over miles upon miles of underground steam tunnels to play D&D in. Expect a lot of science, astronomy and chemistry geeks, Playful Hackers, otaku and LARP fanatics. Everyone will be single (save perhaps for the occasional Tech Bro the rest of them worship as a hero) and male.

Schools in this continuum:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), for all places. It's in the name that this is a college focused on science, math, and tech. It's a dream school for future scientists. However, it also has a strong creative writing program, oddly enough. And it is one of the few colleges in America that still has a mandatory Phy-Ed requirement, in the vein of traditional liberal arts ideals.
  • California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Along with MIT, this is one of the classic tech schools.
  • Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is another leading engineering and tech school, well-known for their focus on practical and industry-oriented education above all else. Interestingly, they're also home to a prominent College of Art and Design, and collaboration among students of different disciplines is highly encouraged, which makes for a rather unique atmosphere as far as tech schools go.
  • California Lutheran University (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) in Thousand Oaks, California. Like Augsburg, it is fairly left wing, but with a more big tent flavor (to the point it's hosted several conservative speakers in the past). Outside of that, it has a reputation for its history with American football, being called the West Coast's "Cradle of Coaches" as nearly 1 in 4 of football coach Bob Shoup's players would go on to coach at some level.
  • École Polytechnique (France)
  • Universities of Cambridge, Strathclyde and Napier (UK)
  • Kungliga Techniska Högskolan (Sweden)
  • Aalto University (Finland)
  • Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, yet again. The Science faculties of the PUCP (those being: Physics, Engineering, Economy,...) fit mostly in the criteria mentioned above (with the exception that religion is not frowned upon by the alumni) and tend to have a rivalry with the left-leaning Letters faculties, often times taking shots at their payless careers, with the latter calling them out for being uncultured or too rigid on their beliefs.
  • Stanford University (Palo Alto, California). While Stanford is a well-rounded school overall, it still has a reputation for being a tech school, probably at least partially because of its proximity to Silicon Valley, as well as a right-leaning economics department.

Oxbridge University of St. Old Geezer the Posh

When you want to ridicule the elitism of academia without going particularly far to either end of political spectrum.

Like Sokal, a shamelessly elitist Ivy League for Everyone, but unlike Sokal without the shameless focus on hard science. It does, however, has a shameless focus on social elitism; how intellectual it actually is, is less important. In fact, what it does matters less than what it is: a stately, centuries-old school that will never let you forget the weight of its history. Ever. The buildings and interiors are all of well-worn stone and polished hard wood, possibly built in some sort of Gothic Revival architecture (or simply Medieval Gothic), there might be marble statues standing around, and the school might actually put the "tower" back in "ivory tower". Expect everyone on the premises to be some flavour of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (or its local equivalent), with just enough minority figures to fend off accusations of overt favouritism, and predominantly male. Jewish and Nerdy is just enough on the posh side to register as minority while not looking too out of place. If a specific faculty is mentioned, it's probably going to be Literature, History, Classical Studies or some other discipline that carries the connotations of "old" and "posh" — Law, Medicine and Mathematics being among the more practical to still check out — and there might actually be a Theology faculty as a leftover of the school's ancient past. The teaching staff will include many an Absent-Minded Professor, who unlike in Sokal, will probably spend more time eating lavish dinners with other members of the faculty than doing science, supplemented with a Dean Bitterman enforcing the school's centuries-old rules in the name of Tradition, a Scary Librarian standing guard over the school's spooky old library, and an occasional Robin Williams lookalike encouraging his students to read old literature. The most outright hostility you'll encounter, aside from the stuffy deans not allowing fun, is probably the bizarrely angry film/art/literary critic who may be as much of a contrarian as the protagonists and is either angering the faculty or the protagonists by claiming some well-lauded work is, in fact, total rubbish. Traditional gowns and headgear might actually be used as everyday clothing.

If there are politics involved, it's likely they won't go beyond a vague sense of conservative elitism.

Expect a grand hallway in the main building with oil painting portraits of notable alumni and statues of Nobel laureates who have graduated there. If the university is European, it will have a centuries long history, likely stretching back to the Middle Ages. There will be Latin and/or Greek inscriptions everywhere, and the university itself will have a Pretentious Latin Motto. There may be marble tables listing the alumni who have died in the nation's wars. The university takes exceptional pride on being ranked among the top 50 universities in the world note .

The typical student will be a scion of an established and wealthy family, most likely white, male, and somewhat intimidated by his parents' expectations, but also less obnoxious and hostile than an alumnus of Jim Jones (because otherwise he'd just enroll there); the bad apples tend to be Upper Class Twits and Spoiled Brats. Many come there directly from some posh Boarding School. Big Man on Campus either doubles as Uncle Pennybags, or is a Blithe Spirit who somehow managed to enroll without the benefit of access to old money or a legacy admission. Expect to see a lot of bright upper middle class youth who have gained a scholarship there. Oxbridge alumni might look condescendingly at the alumni of other schools as too gauche, while in turn being seen as a bunch of clueless rich folks.

Life outside studies will probably involve belonging to an assorted Brotherhood of Funny Hats (actual secret societies and worship of owl effigies optional), triple-Greek-letter societies, reading, enjoying posh activities such as tennis or golf, or preparing to one-up the competing, equally-old and established school in a traditional annual sport event. Expect an excellent sports team (swimming, rowing, rugby, footy or similar traditional sports). If Wacky Fratboy Hijinx occur, think improvisational poetry slams rather than simple boozing. Hazing might happen in form of subjecting the freshmen to weird in-jokes and traditions. If there are drugs on campus, opium is posher than ganja. If the university is located in Germany, expect a secret duelling society.

Schools in this continuum:

  • Oxford and Cambridge, with Oxford winning by a hair-breadth in terms of brand recognition. Both are pretty much synonymous with traditional old academia, regardless of them actually carrying out world-class research.
  • Ivy League schools, in the United States. Research conducted on former students of American universities indicates there are other, less recognized schools that provide education just as good as the Ivy League — but they don't provide you with a recognizable brand.
  • Universities of Bologna in Italy, Sorbonne in Paris, France and Salamanca in Spain.
  • The University of Southern California is often stereotyped as this (but with American football instead of rugby): alumni of their rival UCLA joke that "you can work your way into UCLA, or buy your way into USC". This got less funny after Operation Varsity Blues: of all the families accused by the FBI of bribing their children into college, more than half bribed USC, and the university's image is still recovering. (Funnily enough, USC is located right next to the infamous South Central, while UCLA is located close to super-rich Beverly Hills)
  • St Andrews University is the Scottish version, generally associated with the upper classes, and quick to tell you it's 170 years older than the University of Edinburgh (which has elements of this as well).

Any of these may overlap with a Wizarding School, Boarding School of Horrors or an occult-filled Miskatonic University. Will undoubtedly overlap with Politically Motivated Teacher.

Not to be confused with an upcoming Wii U title about scarecrows, or a chatspeak version of saying that a strawman is you.


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    Films — Live-Action 
  • PCU, in the film of that name, somehow manages to be both. The campus is, shall we say, polarized. This trope was basically the entire point of the movie.
  • Faber College from National Lampoon's Animal House is a Jim Jonestown University. Politics and religion don't come into play, thank God, but it's definitely a stuffy and stodgy place without Delta House's Wacky Fratboy Hijinx. Toward the end of the movie, the Deltas also go on a road trip and pick up some women at a 'socially activist' women's college that is hinted at being a 1950s/early '60s version of Berserkeley. The movie takes place in 1962, two years before the free-speech movement, when Berserkeley was still an Unbuilt Trope.
  • Not a college, but American Eagle Christian High School from the film Saved! qualifies as a Jim Jonestown High School.
  • In John Singleton's college drama Higher Learning, Columbus University is obviously supposed to be a stand-in for one of the University of California campuses — but the faculty, as represented by Professor Phipps, are actually quite reasonable folks who aren't angry at the world. A disproportionate number of the students, however, appear to be unhinged militants in full-blown Berserkeley mode, screaming everything from "White power!" (even the neo-Nazis come off as lefties in this movie, thanks to their constant rants about reverse discrimination) to "Dead men don't rape!" and calling the school's namesake "nothing but a thief and a murderer." Even the 'good guys' are misguided: one student, dismayed at the gang violence, organizes a school-wide "Peace Fest". It doesn't end well.
  • In Iron Man, Tony Stark asks the annoying (but not evil) liberal journalist if she graduated from Berkeley (she actually went to Brown).
  • In the Van Wilder prequel, Coolidge College is portrayed as a Jim Jonestown University. Van is able to turn things upside down by the end of the film, of course.
  • The Trope Namer for Berzerkeley is actually name checked in the opening narration of Princess Diaries 2Lilly naturally is going to college there (though we don't see her there).
  • God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness: Hadleigh University, as with the first film. Of course, it's the same one which employed Professor Radisson. Apparently tons of students are opposed to the very existence of a church on its grounds.
  • Referenced in Zombieland: Double Tap with a hippie who goes by Berkeley. The very name causes the hippie-hating Tallahassee to fly into a rage.
  • Freshman Year: Professor Thomas exists solely to make negative comments about Christianity and act in a hostile manner to Christian protagonist CJ. Bonus points for saying an evolution textbook serves as the class' "Bible" (not that this makes sense in a social studies class). Most of the other students seem interested in sex and drinking more than anything else (though that is somewhat realistic), with CJ falling into the temptations as well.
  • The Social Network plays up the contrast between Zuckerberg (who thinks he's on the Sokal) and his classmates (who realize it's really more of an Oxbridge). While he codes, the others engage in business circles networking or take part in various odd rituals and traditions.

  • This is a common joke about Universities in Scotland: How many students does it take to change a lightbulb? The answer (or at least a variation thereof) depends on the school:
    Glasgow University: 96
    One to change the lightbulb, fifty to protest the light bulb's right not to change, twenty to hold a counter-protest, and another twenty-five to produce a pamphlet saying that we would have solar-powered LEDs that never need changing but for big business and U.S. foreign policy.note 

    Dundee: 10
    One to buy and fit the bulb and nine to petition for the electrification of Dundee.note 

    Caledonian: 7
    One to change the lightbulb and six to throw a party because he didn't screw it in upside down this time.note 

    Strathclyde: 5
    One to design a nuclear-powered bulb that never needs changing, one to figure out how to power the rest of Scotland using that nuked lightbulb, two to install it and one to write the computer programme that controls the switch.note 

    St Andrews: 5
    One to arrange the party, two to coordinate the press, one to call the electrician and one to get Daddy to pay for it all.note 

    Heriot Watt: 3
    One to change it and two to figure out how to get high off the old one.note 

    Aberdeen: 2
    One to change the light bulb and one to crack under the pressure.note 

    Napier: 1
    He gets ten course credits for it.note 

    Edinburgh: 1
    He holds the bulb and the world revolves around him.note 

    Stirling: 0
    Stirling looks better in the dark.note 
  • Students across the pond have a variation for Virginia schools:
    Christopher Newport University students: 360
    One to change the bulb and 359 upperclassmen to bitch about how they got screwed over by housing.note 

    Eastern Mennonite University students: 2
    One to hold the candle, and the other to strike the flint.note 

    George Mason students: 3
    If they get lucky and one of them has taken the course at NOVA.note 

    Hampden-Sydney students: 5
    One to actually change the light bulb, and four to figure out how this could get some Longwood girls to come over.note 

    Hollins College students: 0
    That's what maids are for.note 

    James Madison students: 0
    Harrisonburg doesn't have electricity yet.note 

    Liberty University students: 0
    God said "let there be light" and all was good, and no one questions Falwell.note 

    Longwood students: 0
    The Farmville Super Walmart has fluorescent lighting.note 

    Mary Baldwin students: 4
    One to change the light bulb, and three to figure out how it will help them meet their future husband.note 

    Mary Washington students: The Whole Student Body
    There’s nothing better to do on the weekends.note 

    Old Dominion students: 4
    Two to change the bulb, and two to figure out how to get high off the old one.note 

    Radford students: 1
    But it takes six years.note 

    Randolph–Macon students: 0
    They’ll just drink in the dark.note 

    Sweet Briar students: 4
    One to change the bulb, and three to call up daddy and cry and complain about how awful the whole experience was.note 

    University of Richmond students: 2
    One to mix the martinis and one to call the electrician.note 

    UVA students: 1
    He just holds the bulb and lets the world revolve around him.note 

    VCU students: 0
    Downtown Richmond looks better in the dark.note 

    VMI students: 4
    One Rat to actually change the bulb, one upperclassman to yell at him for not doing it fast enough, one to yell at him for not using the proper wattage, and one to send him up to the Rat Disciplinary Committee for letting the bulb burn out in the first place.note 

    Virginia Tech students : 3
    One to change the bulb, and two to discuss how they did it just as well as a UVA student.note 

    Washington and Lee students: 4
    One to change the bulb, three to write up a complaint to the board of directors stating that they could have gone to a better school if they had wanted to.note 

    William and Mary students: 3
    One to change the bulb, and two to crack under the pressure.note 
  • A similar thing holds true for American schools outside of Virginia:
    Columbia students: 76
    One to change the lightbulb, fifty to protest the lightbulb's right to not change, and twenty-five to hold a counter-protest.note 

    Duke students: A Whole Frat
    But only one of them is sober enough to get the bulb out of the socket.note 

    Harvard students: 1
    He holds the bulb and the world revolves around him.note 

    MIT students: 5
    One to design a nuclear-powered one that never needs changing, one to figure out how to power the rest of Boston using that nuked lightbulb, two to install it, and one to write the computer program that controls the wall switch.note 

    Kenyon students: 0
    Couldn't find the campus.note 

  • The titular school in Neal Stephenson novel The Big U manages to avoid either extreme version of Strawman U, but the SUB and the unionized professors would fit in well at a Berserkeley, and the administration and Temple of Unlimited Godhead (a fundamentalist Mormon offshoot) are close to a Jim Jonestown.
  • Taken past the point of parody by Victoria where several colleges compete to out-liberal each other by, among other things, holding classes on Lesbian contributions to 18th Century tactics and female oppression throughout history, building a temple to Artemis and forcing male students to prostrate before it, holding gay orgies, and having white male students confess to racism, sexism, homophobia etc. and wearing humiliating signs. Ultimately, the problem is solved by killing all the Marxist college professors and instituting one true, righteous university of the Western Canon.
  • In The Silver Chair, C. S. Lewis gives us a proto-Berserkeley in the form of Experiment House, where the kid heroes Eustace and Jill go. The faculty, fancying themselves modern and progressive, allow bullies to run wild, creating a hellish environment for other students. Earlier on, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe hints that either Experiment House or another Boarding School of Horrors contributed to Edmund's spiteful behavior as after his Heel–Face Turn, his sister Lucy observes that he looks better than he has "since his first term at that horrid school which was where he had begun to go wrong."
  • In the Jessica Christ series, Texas State University is portrayed as a combination of both. The bulk of the student body seems to be half obnoxious, self-righteous Christians who scream about persecution any time their religion is implied to not be 100% right about everything, and half obnoxious, self-righteous atheists who scream about persecution any time they have to hear anyone so much as mention religion. Jessica, being the once-begotten daughter of God, naturally ends up on the wrong side of both crowds.
  • Trigger Warning follows a big, manly, conservative military veteran going to a college filled with sissy liberals of every variety: manbun-wearing hipsters, scrawny Antifa thugs, hypocritical feminists, professors who are clueless about the real world, and so forth. Needless to say, our bad ass hero beats some sense into these wimps when he's not saving their lives from terrorists.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Durmstrang Institute appears to be a fantastical Uberwaldian Jim Jonestown, with a former Death Eater for a headmaster, a discriminatory policy excluding Muggle-born students, and a curriculum that teaches The Dark Arts (while Hogwarts only teaches Defence Against the Dark Arts). Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows reveals that Predecessor Villain Gellert Grindelwald, the most dreaded Evil Sorcerer before Voldemort, went here until he got expelled for delving a bit too far into Black Magic. On the other hand some of the students are decent people, including beloved athlete Viktor Krum, who visits Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire along with Durmstrang's other candidates for the Triwizard Tournament.
    • The other delegation at the tournament comes from a French Wizarding School called Beauxbatons that seems more in the St. Old Geezer the Posh mold, as evidenced by Fleur Delacour's snooty disparagement of Hogwarts, itself a thousand-year-old British Boarding School located in a literal castle!
    • Within Hogwarts, which is an Absurdly Divided School due to the house system, Slytherin is treated as the Jim Jonestown house. Okay, on paper Slytherin is associated with ambition and strategy, but in practice Slytherin is seen as the home of bullying, elitist villains. (To be fair the other houses have their share of bad eggs too, and later in the series we meet some decent Slytherins.) Meanwhile, Ravenclaw House has more of a Sokal reputation, given that Ravenclaw students are selected for intelligence, though this can also take the form of eccentric outside-the-box thinkers like Luna Lovegood (and the occasional deluded egomaniac like Gilderoy Lockhart, who merely presents himself as talented). The other two houses are less associated with specific Strawman U tropes: Gryffindor is the badass house, while Hufflepuff is theoretically associated with loyalty and diligence but in practice is stereotyped (both In-Universe and among much of the fandom, despite giving us some decidedly cool characters like Cedric Diggory and Nymphadora Tonks) as the miscellaneous Straw Loser house.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Mentioned in an episode of Dharma & Greg to show the grandparents' personalities. The biological mother of the title couple's adopted son wants him back, and the grandparents (a pair of WASPs and a pair of hippies) have this discussion:
    Kitty: We'll tie her up in court. By the time she gets Daniel back he'll be graduating from Stanford.
    Edward: Notre Dame.note 
    Larry: Berkeley.
    Abby: Oberlin.
  • Faking It has a Strawman High in Hester High School, a school that's so progressive, the outcasts are the in crowd, the coolest kid in school is gay, and the girl who would be the Alpha Bitch at most schools is at the bottom of the social ladder. And the principal? Went to Berkeley. Also, the school's in Austin.
  • On Awkward., Jenna visits a university that she expects to be like the "Berserkley" stereotype but is more of a generic state school (though not to the level of Jim Jonestown).
  • Chicago Justice: The university in "Comma" is portrayed as having serious aspects of this. A group of conservative students advocating the right to carry concealed handguns on campus (for protection against school shootings) clashes with a left-wing professor and his followers. This turns out to have caused a murder. Granted, a professor ranting in class and students getting in trouble for passing out copies of the US Constitution is based on real incidents.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In the early years of Doonesbury, Walden College was a Berserkley variety.

  • If you think this is just a modern phenomenon, you're wrong. In Aristophanes' The Clouds, Socrates is running an ancient Greek Berserkeley and we see a debate with a straw conservative from another school.
  • Extreme Jim Jonestown example: The 'University' in Sarah Kane's play Cleansed is really a concentration camp, run by the evil Tinker, where there are peepholes in the showers that lead to Tinker's private viewing room, for his pleasure, and students are tortured by Tinker and his goons.

    Video Games 
  • Fallen London has both — Benthic College is Berserkeley (to the point of having a few devils on its roster) while Summerset College is a Jim Jonestown University.

  • Sam from Questionable Content attends a school which is some sort of pre-Berserkley Hipster Central; as Faye describes Sam’s apparent freedom to attend or not as she sees fit, “that’s the most Pioneer Valley thing I ever heard”
  • Dumbing of Age includes Anderson U in its background detail, a minor fundamentalist Christian college briefly attended by at least one of the Joyce/Becky circle.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Berzerkely, Jim Jones University, Berzerkeley, I Cant Believe Its Not Berkeley