WASHINGTON, D.C. Responding to criticism from elite institutions of higher learning, U.S. News & World Report today announced that it would include female leg and armpit hair as a factor in its annual ranking of the best American colleges.
“We have been rightfully chastised for focusing on trivial measures such as the number of books in a school’s library and student-faculty ratio,” said Robert Flanigan, managing editor of the newsweekly that has turned its ratings of colleges into a profitable sideline. “You should probably know what the word ‘chastise’ means if you want to get into a good school,” he added.
The decision placated faculty at several colleges that had refused to participate in the survey because of its focus on raw data over subjective indicators. “There is no more accurate sign of a school’s academic rigor than the unwillingness of its female students to shave their legs and armpits,” said JoEllen Murada, First Deputy Assistant Vice Provost-Elect of Stanford University. “After all, what does ‘placate’ mean?” she asked rhetorically; “(a) to soothe or mollify, (b) to remove scales from an object, such as a fish, or (c) an almond-flavored custard.”
“Anita, there’s either a mouse in your dress shield or you forgot to shave your pits.”
Mary Ellen Robinson, head of the American Association of University Women, said she was bemused by the magazine’s decision. “Why isn’t there a comparable index for male students?” she asked, adding “‘bemused’ means I’m confused, not laughing.”
Flanigan responded that U.S. News would welcome input from female faculty and administrators but that standards applicable to one sex did not necessarily produce useful information when applied to the other. “Poor hygiene in males appears to be independent of I.Q.,” he noted. “If that’s one of your criteria, Harvard would be full of Bruins fans.”
Rush committee, I Felta Thi sorority
Schools where sororities are a prominent feature of campus life were caught off guard by the decision, and student leaders vowed to assist in the recruitment of women who could boost their colleges’ academic standing. “I’m going to go out and beat the bushes to find some groaty girls to bring our average up,” said Cyndi Lynn Anthony, a Chi Omega at the University of Missouri. “Just as soon as I finish plucking my eyebrows.”