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Founded in 1870, Syracuse University, in Syracuse, New York is currently home to 11,000 undergraduate and 4,000 graduate students in 13 colleges. The university features strong programs in public communications, architecture, the visual arts, engineering, law, and business. I am involved in none of that, but rather the English and Textual Studies department in the College of Arts and Sciences, which affords the perspective of standing outside in the rain and looking in on a fun party. Friends in other departments tell me they feel the same.

The university is best known for its Division I men's Orangemen Football, Basketball, and Lacrosse teams; the latter is consistently among the top three in the nation. Famous alumni the administration is fond of touting include Dick Clark, Lt. Col. Eileen Collins, Bob Costas, Betsey Johnson, Ted Koppel, Joyce Carol Oates, Lou Reed, and nongraduates Stephen Crane and William Safire.

The current student body is characterized by racial tensions, moderately left libertarian politics, inter-fraternity violence (roughly 20% of undergraduate students are in fraternities and sororities), and crushing indifference to the world outside the university. For students interested in getting more out of their $35,000 tuition there are over 300 clubs, intramural sports, preprofessional organizations, and media outlets (two radio stations, two or three university sponsored newspapers, an independent daily, The Daily Orange, and a television station) that happily welcome new members.

S.U. boasts several architecturally distinguished buildings, including the Romanesque Crouse College of Fine Arts, the pseudo-Renaissance Hall of Languages, and the I.M. Pei designed Newhouse Communications Center. The $13.8 million Bird Library is notable for being designed to house seven levels of material without taking into account the weight of those holdings. The building is currently sinking into the ground at a rate of about 1/16" per four years.

Located in the University Hill neighborhood and characterized by a sometimes gentle, sometimes violent slope, nearby points of interest include Oakwood Cemetery, a classical rural cemetery on the National Register of Historic Places, the college bars and t-shirt shops of Marshall Street, and a focal point of the political and social left, the Westcott neighborhood. Downtown Syracuse is a ten minute drive, the upscale Carousel mall is fifteen.

The school's current mission is to "become the nation's leading student-centered research university." To that end a great deal of money has been spent on renovating classrooms for multimedia presentations, aggressively pursuing research in the natural and social sciences, and discouraging opposition to university administrivia from politically oriented undergrads and career oriented grad students. The vast numbers of black squirrels and stray cats fit somewhere in this plan, I'm sure.

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